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F-1 Students: What is the Difference Between an Annual Vacation and a School Break?

As an F-1 international student, you must follow the rules and maintain your student status during your annual vacation or while on a school break.

Whether you are taking your annual vacation or it is a school break, if you would like to travel outside the United States, your first step should always be to talk with your designated school official (DSO). However, the other rules for annual vacation and school breaks are different.

Annual Vacation

You are eligible to take an annual vacation after completing an academic year at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school, and once every year after that. Many students take annual vacation during the summer, and it usually lasts about as long as a semester or term of your school year.

You must be enrolled in a full course of study during all the terms of the school year other than your annual vacation. Talk to your DSO to learn when you are eligible for your annual vacation.

If you want to continue taking classes during the summer during your annual vacation, you do not need to enroll in a full course of study.

School Breaks

School breaks occur when your school closes for a short period of time, normally during a U.S. holiday or break from classes, such as spring or winter break. Typically, the time you spend not attending classes during a school break will not count as your annual vacation.

If you are traveling abroad during your annual vacation or a school break, your DSO will be able to verify that you are in “Active” status and help make sure you have the proper documentation before you leave the United States.

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