The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permit students who have violated their F-1 student status to apply for reinstatement. The decision to reinstate a student is based on the information provided by the applicant to USCIS during the reinstatement process. The process may take a few weeks to several months depending on the how complicated the case is. There is no guarantee that your application for reinstatement will be approved.

Reinstatement can be processed by traveling outside the United States with a new I-20 and attempting re-entry or by applying for reinstatement within the U.S. through USCIS. Both options have some level of risk involved and none guarantees approval.

Reinstatement Options

A student may depart the U.S., apply for a new visa and attempt re-entry with a new Form I-20. Consular officers may ask questions about prior time in the U.S. and can deny a new visa.

Eligibility Requirements:
You must:

  • not have been out of status for more than 5 months unless you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances.
  • be pursuing, or will in the next available term be pursing, a full course of study.
  • not have engaged in unauthorized employment.
  • be able to demonstrate that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control.

Submit paperwork to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS):

  • Legible copies of:
    • passport ID pages
    • latest Admission Stamp (red stamp inside passport)
    • latest Visa
    • front page and signature page of all previous I-20s from all schools
    • any previously-issued Employment Authorization Documents
  • I-94
  • Form I-539 and Form I-539A (mark at the top in red block letters: "REINSTATEMENT").
  • $370 Filing Fee and $85 biometric services fee: check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security
  • Affidavit of Support
  • Letter of Explanation stating:
    • why you are out of status (specify the violation)
    • the reason for the status violation
    • the effect on you if the reinstatement is denied
    • a statement that you are pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study
    • a specific request that the USCIS reinstate you to F-1 student status
    • The letter should establish convincingly that the violation resulted from circumstances beyond your control.
  • Any other documentation in support of your application
    • Transcripts from all schools attended.
  • Letter from the DSO recommending reinstatement
  • Proof of SEVIS Fee payment (for those applying for reinstatement after being out of status for more than 5 months)

Please submit your documents to the Front Desk in the CIE for processing.
You will be contacted within 2 weeks for a signature on your new I-20. A copy of new I-20 will be submitted as part of your application for reinstatement to USCIS

Note: During the processing time you are ineligible for any F-1 benefits such as work authorization, transfer, or travel outside the U.S. It is recommended that you maintain a full course of study.

Reinstatement Approved
If your application for reinstatement is approved, you will be eligible for F-1 benefits.

Reinstatement Denied
If your application for reinstatement is denied:

  • Your F-1 student visa is automatically cancelled.
  • You are required to leave the U.S. within 15 days unless you wish to work with an attorney to file a motion to re-open your case by presenting new and different information (within 30 days).
  • You will begin accumulating days of "unlawful presence". If you remain in the U.S. after the denial for over 180 days. You will be barred from returning to the U.S. for 3 years; if you remain for one year or more, you will be barred for 10 years.
  • There is an official record of the violation of status in DHS files, which can have future impact on eligibility for immigration benefits