How to Reinstate Your F-1 Student Status
What is "Reinstatement?"
Reinstatement is a procedure that allows you to explain the circumstances that caused you to violate the terms of your F-1 student status by filing an application with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS recognizes that students experience problems while pursuing their education in the U.S. You must be able to convince Immigration either that your violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control, or that it relates to a reduction in course load that your international student advisor would have been able to authorize due to qualifying academic or medical reasons. Review our guidelines for applying for a reinstatement of your F-1 student status.
What are the rules for getting reinstated?
- You may not have been in violation of your F-1 status for more than five months. If you have, you are considered to be ineligible for reinstatement unless you can prove that your failure to file a timely reinstatement application was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you have filed as promptly as possible considering them.
- You may not have a record of repeated or willful violations of F-1 status.
- You must be enrolled in school now
- You cannot have worked without authorization.
- You are not in removal proceedings from the U.S.
- You must complete an application and write a convincing explanation of what happened and why the violation was not your fault, or demonstrate that you would have qualified for an authorized reduced course load due to a qualifying academic or medical reason had you applied in time. Saying that you did not know that you were violating your status will not convince the Immigration officer. You are responsible for knowing the rules for maintaining your status and obeying them.
- Evidence is crucial to a successful reinstatement. If you can think of any kind of evidence such as a letter from your academic advisor, former designated school official, newspaper clippings about conditions at home, or an affidavit from someone who is familiar with the circumstances that caused the violation, it would be very helpful to your application.
- A new Form I-20 is required for your reinstatement application. If your I-20 was issued a year ago or if your violation of status had anything to do with finances, you will need to complete a new application for a Form I-20 and present new evidence of your financial ability to support the costs of studying and living in the U.S. for each year of study remaining in your program.
- If your violation of status occurred more than five months ago, you are required to pay the SEVIS Fee even if you paid it previously and provide evidence of its payment with your reinstatement application.
The Travel Option
Students sometimes prefer to travel outside the U.S. and reenter to return to F-1 status rather than file an application. There are serious "pros" and "cons" to travel as an option that must be carefully discussed with your international student advisor before making any travel plans.
How does a violation of status affect you?
- Your F-1 status has been terminated in Immigration's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and you need to take action to regain lawful status. You may continue your full-time studies as usual while your application is being processed by Immigration.
- Your privileges and benefits as an F-1 student are terminated until you are reinstated including employment.
- It may take up to four months for Immigration to answer your application. You may continue your studies while you are waiting.