Interruptions to your Program, Employment, or Affiliation

International students and scholars must take care to continuously maintain the status for which they were approved. If you need to interrupt your academic program or employment for any reason, including (but not limited to) a family or medical issue, study or research abroad, suspension, or visa delays, you should contact the ISSO to discuss how the interruption will affect your immigration status.


Authorization for Medical Leave of Absence

In the event you are suffering from an illness or other medical condition that requires you to interrupt your studies, you can request authorization for a medical leave of absence from the ISSO. The medical leave of absence authorization will enable you to maintain your immigration status during the time you are not enrolled.

If you only need to reduce your courseload below full time for medical reasons, there may be an option to request a reduced courseload rather than take a leave of absence.

Non-Medical Interruptions to Your Program

Interruptions to your program that are not based on an illness or medical condition require advanced planning with your ISSO advisor. Possible options that will be considered for non-medical leave of absence requests:

  • Enroll for full-time study at another US college or university that can issue you an immigration document to transfer your status to that school. Note that you must enroll at the new school if you intend to return to your degree program at BU.
  • File an application to change to an immigration status, where eligible, that will allow you to remain in the US while you are not studying (e.g., B-2 visitor status, or a dependent status such as F-2 or H-4).
  • Depart the US in a timely manner.

Resuming Your Studies at BU

When you are ready to resume your studies, you must contact the ISSO in advance so that we can issue you a new I-20/DS-2019 document, if necessary.


You may continue to conduct your research or teaching at BU based on your current immigration status/document until you complete your activities or until the end date indicated on your current immigration document. If your program at BU will be interrupted for any reason (i.e., medical issues, research/sabbatical at another institution in the U.S. or abroad, visa delays, other personal issues, etc.), this will affect your current immigration status and your eligibility to remain in the US. Therefore it is important to discuss such plans with the ISSO in advance whenever possible.

Possible options that may be considered for an interruption in your program include:

  • Obtain sponsorship through another university or organization.
  • File a change of status to another immigration status which will allow you to remain in the U.S. while you are not working/affiliated with BU (i.e., B-2 visitor status, or a dependent status such as J-2 or H-4).
  • Depart the U.S. in a timely manner.

Your ability to resume research at BU will depend on your eligibility for the appropriate immigration status at the time of your return. Please review the information about bars associated with the J-1 program and/or bars from eligibility for H-1B temporary work classification. When appropriate, ISSO may be able to leave your J-1 SEVIS record active for extended periods of time so long as you will retain your BU appointment/affiliation during the time you will be outside the U.S.