Leave of Absence, Suspension, Dismissal & More
There are immigration implications for students in F-1 or J-1 status who leave Carnegie Mellon before completing their program of study.
It is important that students discuss their specific situation with both their academic advisor and their OIE advisor. Interrupting your studies impacts how long you can remain in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status as well as your eligiblity for work authorization.
Leave of Absence or Withdrawal
Leave of Absence
Students who may need to temporarily interrupt their studies must formally request a Leave of Absence from the University before following the process documented on The HUB website.
Since student status requires full-time enrollment, students cannot lawfully remain in the U.S. in F-1 or J-1 status during an approved leave of absence. OIE will report the Leave of Absence in SEVIS.
Per regulations, F-1 students are advised to depart the U.S. within 15 days of requesting the Leave of Absense.
J-1 students taking a Leave of Absence will have their DS-2019 end date adjusted to reflect the Leave of Absence.
Early communication is essential to determine a student's specific immigration implications. We recommend that F-1 and J-1 students schedule an appointment with their OIE advisor to talk about their Leave of Absence plans.
Withdrawal from Academic Program
Students who decide to leave the University with no intention to return must request a withdrawal by following the process documented on The HUB website.
Since student status requires full-time enrollment, students cannot lawfully remain in the U.S in F-1 or J-1 status after withdrawing from the University. OIE will report the withdrawal in SEVIS. Per regulations, students are advised to depart the U.S. within 15 days of requesting the withdrawal.
Academic Probation does not require any adjustment to a student’s immigration record. However, if an academic probation leads to a suspension or dismissal this will impact a student’s immigration status.
It is important for students to coordinate closely with their academic department to take necessary action to successfully resolve their academic probation.
Suspension and Dismissal
University Suspension is a forced, temporary leave from the university. Students on suspension are not able to register and therefore cannot maintain F-1 or J-1 status. OIE will report the suspension in SEVIS. Per regulations, students are advised to depart the U.S. immediately upon being suspended.
University Dismissal is a forced withdrawal from the university. Dismissed students are not able to register or return to the University, and therefore cannot maintain F-1 or J-1 status. OIE will report the dismissal in SEVIS. Per regulations, students are advised to depart the U.S. immediately upon being dismissed.
At times a student may choose or be required to leave a program. Notifying OIE in advance of the student's departure from the program may preserve options for the student.
Some academic departments can award students a Master's degree even though they will not complete their Ph.D. program. In this case, for F-1 students, if the appropriate changes are made by the department in SIO, OIE can amend the I-20 for the Master's program and can recommend Optional Practical Training (OPT) based on the Master's degree, provided that the OPT request is made by the student within 60 days of masters-level completion. OPT eligibility is only possible if the student has never received Master’s level OPT for a prior degree.
F-1 and J-1 students should schedule an appointment with their OIE advisor to discuss their specific situation.
Returning from a Leave or Suspension
Students may be able to return to CMU in the future. Consult with your academic department and review the information on The HUB website.
International students must obtain a new I-20 or DS-2019 from OIE to legally re-enter the U.S. after a leave of absence.
F-1 and J-1 students must carry a full course load the semester they return. Returning in the summer term is only possible if there are enough courses to enroll in 36 units. Students must complete the immigration check-in with OIE.
Implications for off-campus work permission: To be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after returning from a leave of absence on a new immigration document, an F-1 student must be in valid status for at least 2 consecutive semesters. Students returning from a leave of absence with only one semester remaining to complete their program will not be eligible for OPT or CPT.
Instructions for obtaining the new I-20/DS-2019:
Students returning from a leave of absence are required to follow the instructions below. Be proactive with all these steps, as nothing is automatic in this process.
- Submit the Return from Leave of Absence (pdf) form found on The HUB website. This form should not be sent to OIE.
- After completing the above step, you must complete and submit the "New Student Initial Document Request E-Form" under "Pre-Arrival" in the MyOIE portal.
- International students must pay a new SEVIS (I-901 fee) associated with the new I-20/DS-2019 and may need to apply for a new U.S. visa stamp from a U.S. embassy or consulate. See OIE’s travel FAQ’s to determine if a new visa is necessary.
All students who are returning from a leave of absence are required to complete an immigration check-in. This is required by the Department of Homeland Security to register your arrival at Carnegie Mellon. Follow instructions in the email you will receive from OIE to complete the mandatory check-in process.