Leave of Absence
International students must notify ISS of their plans prior to taking a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the College. Depending on the type of leave, the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) may require ISS to terminate a student's F-1 status.
Types of Leaves
1. Academic Withdrawal Leave
2. Medical Leave
3. Military Leave
4. Personal Leave
5. Study Abroad
If you are taking a study abroad LOA, you can most likely continue to maintain your current F-1 status, provided that your LOA has been approved by the Director of Study Away and that you have received approval from ISS prior to departure from Bennington.
If you will be outside of the United States for a period longer than five months, there is a possibility that ISS could terminate your F-1 status. Please continue to stay in contact with an International Student Advisor to ensure the proper maintenance of your immigration status.
Please visit Study Abroad for more information.
LOA Effects on OPT
SEVP mandates that ISS terminate a student's F-1 status if they are on a non-study abroad LOA. If your F-1 is terminated, you must return to Bennington for two consecutive semesters in full-time status in order to be eligible for Post Completion Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training.
Returning to Bennington
When you are ready to return to Bennington after a LOA, please notify ISS at least 3 months prior to your intended return to request a new I-20 visa document. An International Student Advisor (ISA) will assist you with this process.
If your plans for program completion change and you drop below a full course of study, you must meet with an ISA. Should you take a leave of absence, withdraw voluntarily, or become suspended, you are required to change your non-immigrant status, transfer to another school, or leave the United States. If you are suspended or required to withdraw from the college, you must leave the U.S. immediately. The only exception to remain in F-1 status and in the U.S. is through a valid Medical Withdrawal. This option must be discussed with an ISA prior to filing for withdrawal.
Out of Status
If you have fallen out of status while pursuing your education at Bennington, you must complete the application Form I-539 through USCIS. If you have been out of status for more than five months, you are not eligible for reinstatement, and it is recommended you meet with an ISA.