Questions from Designated School Officials: How do F-1 students take medical leave?
Questions from Designated School Officials is a blog series on Study in the States for designated school officials (DSOs). Each month, we will answer a question that will help you advise your F and/or M students. If you are a DSO and would like to submit a question, you can email us or ask us via social media, your Field Representative or the SEVP Response Center. We may edit questions for clarity and consistency and may not feature all submissions on Study in the States.
Question: How do F-1 students take medical leave?
Answer: If F-1 students experience a medical emergency or event and need a break from their studies, they should work with their DSO to request a reduced course load (RCL) for medical conditions. The DSO may authorize an RCL (or, if necessary, no course load) due to a student’s temporary illness or medical condition for up to 12 months during the course of study at that program level.
The student must provide the DSO with medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor or clinical psychologist. The DSO must reauthorize medical RCL for the student at the beginning of each term.
If RCL for medical conditions is not adequate for meeting the needs of the student, the DSO may instead authorize a temporary absence. The DSO would terminate the student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record for authorized early withdrawal and the student would need to depart the United States within 15 days. When the student is ready to return to their program of study, the DSO would submit a correction request in SEVIS to return the student’s record to Active. The student’s absence should not exceed five months.
The student must always talk to their DSO before they stop attending classes, otherwise the student risks having their SEVIS record terminated by the DSO for unauthorized withdrawal and must depart the United States immediately.