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Leave of Absence

Requesting A Leave of Absence

Steps to Follow When Taking A Leave of Absence

  1. Contact Dean Elizabeth Derickson Taking Time Off
  2. Contact the ISC through the ISC portal to request a leave of absence

Please note: If an F-1 or J-1 student will pursue leave of absence, the student may not remain in the United States during the leave period. Please confirm your leave with Jennifer Marks-Gold. Your current SEVIS record will be terminated and the student must leave the United States within 15 days of the termination. When the student wishes to return to the academic program at Swarthmore, Jennifer Marks- Gold will create a new record on SEVIS. 

The current I-20/DS-2019 will be invalid after being outside of the U.S. for more than five months. Students who will be outside the U.S. for longer than five months for an LOA must obtain a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number in order to re-enter the U.S. and return to Swarthmore College. Students will need to use the new I-20/DS-2019 to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new F-1/J-1 visa.


Returning From A Leave of Absence

Steps to follow

  1. 90-120 days before requesting a new I-20, contact Jennifer Marks-Gold to inform that you are planning on returning to Swarthmore through the ISC portal. Ask for access to the portal if needed. 
  2. 90-120 days before you return, contact the Dean Derickson to tell her you plan to return. (
  3. To access to myswarthmore(registration, email, and billing ) please re set your password: : This step is only needed if you have been logged out of myswarthmore. If the date of your return gets closer and you are not able to access myswarthmore, please contact the help desk.
  4. 90-120 days before applying for the visa, contact the OSE office to inform them of your plans to return and for what semester/year.  
  5. 90-120 days before requesting your new I-20, contact the Registrar to confirm your exact (Date/Month/Year) graduation date.  (
  6. 90-120 days before before you return you will need to provide financial documentation. This documentation includes bank statements and a Certificate of Finance (COF). Tuition increases each year, please check the current tuition amount before preparing your documents.  Please provide the ISC with your current address, email, foreign and US phone numbers.
  7. 90-120 days before your return, please complete your annual mandatory insurance enrollment form. For further insurance questions please contact Mary Jane Palma at or 610-328-8062.

Please Note: To be eligible for CPT or OPT you must be enrolled for an academic year or two consecutive terms.

Visa questions you may have below:

Once you have your I-20 you may need to organize your visa application. If so, make sure that all information on the form is correct and sign your name and date the bottom of the form. You should read the third page of your form so you understand the rights and regulations of the F-1 visa holder

  1. All students on F-1 and J-1 visas are tracked using an online database called SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). You must pay a SEVIS fee (since you are getting a new SEVIS #). There are various payment options including online with a credit card at Don’t forget to obtain a receipt!
  2. Applicants for the F visa must book an interview appointment at their nearest consulate/embassy. Embassies and consulates can get very busy, so plan ahead. Students can apply up to 120 days before the program start date on your I-20 and can enter the United States up to 30 days prior to your program start date. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to make an appointment for your visa interview and to obtain full instructions on how to apply for an F-1. You can also check on visa wait times at for your specific embassy/consulate and
  3. When you go for your interview, you’ll need a valid passport (valid for at least six more months), passport photos, visa application fees and additional documentation, as outlined by the consular section of the embassy/consulate. Please have your re-admit approval e-mail that Dean Elizabeth Derickson provided you when you asked to return to Swarthmore.
  4. Has your visa expired or is it still valid? If your visa is valid:  The ISC recommends that you check with your nearest embassy to confirm that a new visa is not needed. 

As an F-1 visa applicant you must be able to prove 1) that you will be in the US solely to be a student, 2) you have the financial means to study and live in the US and 3) you intend to return to your country after you have completed your studies. Visa applicants should bring documentation that proves all three of the above. Documentation should be original; the Consular Office may take copies of your documents for verification. Four types of documentation will be necessary:

A valid I-20. Check your I-20 to make sure that 1) your name, date and place of birth, and country of citizenship are correct and the same as they appear on your passport; 2) all spaces are filled in, including reporting dates and financial data; and 3) the Designated School Officials, Jennifer Marks-Gold or Kathryn Melvin has signed it. If there are any errors or omissions on the I-20, it is not valid and cannot be used to apply for a visa.

Academic Documents.  You must provide evidence that you are a bona fide student; that your sole purpose for traveling to the US is to study and that you are not likely to drop out of school for academic or personal reasons. You may be asked about your commitment to education, your reasons for wanting to return to the US and your career plans.

You should bring your academic records, and any other academic documentation pertinent to your case. You can request a transcript on this page


Students who are dismissed may lose their lawful F-1 or J-1 status. During any semester on probation, students must see someone in the ISC to establish a back-up plan to avoid immigration problems. Students who are dismissed and remain in the U.S. will begin accruing days of Unlawful Presence (link is external), which may lead to future inadmissability to the U.S.