Requesting & Returning from Voluntary Leave

Preparing for Voluntary Leave/Withdrawal

If you are taking a leave or are withdrawing from the college without a medical letter of support, your leave is considered a voluntary leave of absence. F-1 and J-1 students taking a voluntary leave of absence must have their F-1/J-1 immigration records closed for the duration of the leave. Please follow the below steps if you are taking a voluntary leave of absence:

  1. Contact your Class Dean and/or Scott Howard in Case Management to discuss the process of requesting a leave from the college or informing the college of a withdrawal. The Office of Immigration Services (OIS) will not close a student’s immigration record until the college has formally approved and confirmed the voluntary leave of absence or withdrawal.
  2. Please visit us during advising hours or email us right away to discuss your leave, the timeline of your departure from the US, and the closure of your immigration record. Once the voluntary leave of absence or withdrawal is approved by the college, the OIS must close your immigration record and you will have to depart the US. 

Note: After returning from a voluntary leave of absence, you must be enrolled in the US/have an active F-1 record for two full semesters before you are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training.

Returning from a Voluntary Leave of Absence

If and when you decide to return to Amherst College, you must take the following steps in advance of your return. It is best to complete these steps at least 8 weeks before the semester begins, particularly if you need to obtain a new F-1 or J-1 visa.

  1. Contact Scott Howard  in Case Management with any questions about readmission to the college, and see the Readmission page for more information. You must be formally readmitted to the college before the OIS can issue you a new immigration document.
  2. Please submit a request for a new I-20 or DS-2019. Once the new immigration document has been issued, the OIS will email you.
  3. Receive your new I-20 or DS-2019, and pay the SEVIS fee with your new SEVIS number.
  4. If your F-1 or J-1 visa has expired, or if your leave of absence will have kept you outside of the country for longer than five months at your time of return to the US, you will need to obtain a new visa before returning to the US. 
  5. Return to the US in F-1 or J-1 status. You may enter the US up to 30 days before the start-date on your new I-20 or DS-2019. See our Travel Checklist to review the documents you are recommended to carry upon return to the US.
  6. Once back in Amherst, submit the OIS check-in form so that we can review your immigration documents and activate your new F-1/J-1 record. 
    1. F-1 students: You will be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) after two semesters of studying in the US/with an active F-1 record.