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Leave of Absence

A leave of absence, (LOA), which some students refer to as a “gap year,” is managed by the Registrar’s Office and details can be found on their website. There is a leave of absence eForm to complete, which is signed electronically by various offices after the student submits it. The student will get notified automatically after the Registrar’s office approves the form. This can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. 

Taking a leave of absence has extra components for international students to consider.


To file the form: File the form before the first day of class. Otherwise, you will incur a penalty fee if you drop classes after the first day of school regardless if you paid the bill or not. If you did not pay the bill, you will still incur a penalty fee and you may get a Bursar Hold. That means you cannot return to Pratt or get a transcript of grades if there is a Bursar Hold. 

To leave the US: International students have 15 days to leave the US after filling out the eForm.

Medical Reasons

If your leave of absence is due to medical reasons, you will need to speak with Martha Cedarholm, Senior Student Advocate and Care Coordinator ( for her to approve the form first.

If you are taking a leave for medical reasons and it is beyond the tuition refund date, ask for the tuition refund claim form, which is applicable if you paid for the tuition insurance. If you waived your tuition insurance, you cannot file a claim. Claims must be made within 30 days of taking the leave.

Medical LOA’s (MLOA) are valid for one semester at a time. The process to obtain approval for a MLOA must be repeated each semester.

An international F-1 student can be on a Medical LOA and remain in the US for up to 12 months total. In order to be approved for an MLOA and remain in the US, an F-1 student must submit a doctor’s note and Exception to Full Course of Study form to OIA. Email OIA at for additional information, and be sure to include your Pratt ID.

Academic Advisement

  • Undergraduate students should discuss their leave with their academic advisor.
  • Graduate students should discuss their leave with their department.

Make sure it is clear what classes you need when you return and which semester you should return to. You may request one or two semesters for your Leave of absence. Please discuss this with your academic advisor (Undergraduates), or department (Graduates), as the sequencing of your classes may affect when you can return.

I-20 and Visa

Case 1- You have an I-20, but never used it to enter the US. It is in INITIAL status. You need an updated one with a new program start date. It will have the same SEVIS number. 

Case 2- Your active I-20 was TERMINATED when you took a leave of absence and left the US. You need to apply for a new I-20. It will have a new SEVIS number.

Initial I-20’s – Case 1

If you received an I-20 from Pratt electronically, and have never used it to enter the US, it is still in INITIAL status. In that case, when you take a leave of absence, the start date will be changed to the semester in which you request to return from your leave of absence. The I-20 will not be terminated. Instead of applying for a whole new I-20 when you want to return, you will just need to send us new financial statements. Email to ask for details.

It is important to understand that your F-1 status “clock” starts when you are admitted to the US in F-1 status. Keep in mind that it is required to be registered full-time for one academic year (2 semesters) and be in F-1 status to receive off-campus work authorization for OPT or CPT. 

If you have two semesters remaining when your F-1 status starts, you would not be eligible for CPT, however, you would be eligible for OPT. 

If you only have one semester remaining when you arrive in the US, then you would no longer be eligible for OPT or CPT.

Active I-20’s Case – 2

You are in F-1 status when you are admitted into the US and present your F-1 visa and I-20 at the port of entry. Then your I-20 changes from INITIAL status to ACTIVE status after the OIA registers your SEVIS record. When you take a leave of absence, your I-20 will be terminated in SEVIS and it is no longer ACTIVE. You will need to apply for a new I-20 and pay the SEVIS fee in order to return to Pratt in person. 

It is very important to understand that the F-1 status “clock” resets when you enter the US with the new I-20.  This affects your off-campus work eligibility. After you return from your leave, you have to be full-time for one academic year (2 semesters) in order to receive OPT or CPT

That means if you only have one semester remaining when you return, then you would no longer be eligible for OPT/CPT. If you have two semesters remaining, you would be eligible for OPT, but would not be eligible for CPT. (see chart below)

Chart showing how many semesters remain for studying in person after returning to the US after a leave and how it affects eligibility to work off-campus.

Semesters remainingEligible for CPTEligible for OPT 
3 or moreYESYES
Returning less than 5 Months after Departing the US

If the time between the last day you were in class and the start date of the semester in which you want to return is less than five (5) months, the OIA can request your SEVIS I-20 record to be reactivated with the SEVP Response Center (SRC).

F-1 Visa

You may use your old visa to return if it will still be valid regardless if you have been out of the country for more than five (5) months, or if the SEVIS number is different. If it will be expired, then you will need to apply for a new one.


  • Undergraduate students retain their international merit scholarship with a GPA of at least 2.5. 
  • Graduate students retain their scholarship with a GPA of at least 3.0. 
  • For questions or confirmation, please email Student Financial Services

Duration of Leave

You can request a leave of absence for one or two semesters. Review details here.

Students leaving for military service are generally granted more than one year. If there is any question about the maximum duration, please contact the Registrar at

How to request a Leave of Absence
(International Students)

  1. Consult with an advisor from OIA, (  For a LOA for “medical” or “personal” reasons, you will also need to consult with Martha Cedarholm, Senior Student Advocate and Care Coordinator (
  2. Fill out the eForm
    Please complete the Leave of Absence/Withdrawal eForm.
    After you submit the eForm, you can email it to yourself for your records.
    It will be “sent around” campus electronically for the various offices to approve it.
    The eForm automatically says “return date (if applicable).” It is not applicable to international students, so please ignore it. You will get an email sent to your Pratt email address when the process is complete.
  3. Exit Form
    Please complete the fillable Exit Form and send it to

Please email OIA at with any questions.