Leave of Absence

F-1 international students who wish to take a semester off during the academic year (fall and spring semesters) and not enroll in any courses must receive authorization for a Leave of Absence (LOA) from both the Global Education Office (GEO) and their academic department.

Students considering an LOA must review these requirements:

  • Student must be in good academic standing when requesting an LOA from GEO
  • Student must live outside of the United States during the LOA 
  • If student is pursuing degree programs or majors, an LOA will not be granted from one degree program or major at Dominican in order to pursue another 
  • The GEO LOA form must be approved by both GEO and the student’s academic department adviser. After students meet with Vaolele Stawiarski, Designated School Official, it is the responsibility of the students to meet with their academic adviser and complete the LOA process for their department. Students also need to confirm with their department their eligibility to return to their academic program after the LOA.

Medical Leave of Absence

F-1 students are eligible to take an LOA due to medical reasons. Students have the option to return to their home country or remain in the United States to receive medical treatment.

International students who wish to remain in the United States must obtain a doctor’s letter recommending the LOA for medical reasons. Students who remain in the United States without obtaining advance approval for medical LOA from GEO will be considered out of status.

Requirements and Limitations of Medical LOA:

  • Student must have a letter from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist recommending leave for a specific semester
  • Student must have prior approval from the Global Education Office (GEO) and the academic department in question before withdrawing from courses 
  • No more than 12 months of total leave are allowed per degree level

Students considering a Leave of Absence due to medical reasons must meet with the DSO.

Leave of Absence Exceeding 5 Months

Students who are planning on being outside the United States for longer than 5 months for an LOA must obtain a new Dominican I-20 form with a new SEVIS ID number in order to re-enter the United States and return to Dominican. The current I-20 will be invalid after being outside of the United States for more than 5 months.

It is the student’s responsibility to contact the GEO at least two months prior to returning to Dominican to request the new I-20.

Students will need to use the new I-20 to pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new F-1, even though they may possess an unexpired visa associated with their previous I-20 SEVIS ID number.

Leave of Absence and Employment Benefits Eligibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that an F-1 international student must be in status for a full academic year (9 months) in order to be eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.

This regulation is especially important to note for students who are considering a Leave of Absence of over 5 months in the final year of studies at Dominican University of California.

Returning to Full-Time Enrollment After a Leave of Absence

All students returning from a Leave of Absence must validate their return to Dominican by reporting to GEO within 21 days of the start of the new semester. Students must meet with the Dominican DSO, Vaolele Stawiarski.

Students must bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • Copy of stamped I-20
  • Copy of F-1 visa in passport



Vaolele Stawiarski, DSO—ContactI'm Vaolele Stawiarski, Associate Director of International  Student Services at Dominican.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding your leave of absence, your medical LOA and your re-enrollment at Dominican.