There are two options when it comes to the reinstatement process:
Option 1: Reinstatement
When requesting reinstatement, you must establish to the satisfaction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you:
- Have not been out of status more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed for reinstatement as soon as possible under these circumstances).
- Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations.
- Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20.
- Have not engaged in unauthorized employment.
- Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status.
You must also establish that:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of your ISS adviser, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement.
- The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within the international student adviser's authority to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.
If USCIS approves the reinstatement request, the adjudicating officer will endorse your I-20 to indicate that you have been reinstated and will return the I-20 to you. If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request, you may not appeal the decision and need to prepare to leave the U.S. immediately.
Reinstatement Application Procedure
Prepare the following documents and submit them to the International Student and Scholar Services office for review. You can hand in the documents to the office directly during office hours or scan and submit the documents for review by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Form I-539
- 2 checks or money orders made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security". One for the application fee in the amount of $370 and one for the Biometric Services fee in the amount of $85
- Photocopies of all previously-issued I-20s
- Original I-94 (the white card stapled inside your passport) or I-94 printout
- Photocopy of new reinstatement I-20 signed by ISS adviser
- Evidence of source and amount of financial support
- A letter requesting reinstatement to F-1 student status which explains your situation and truthfully states that failure to maintain status was due to any or all of the reasons listed above
- Supporting documentation (for example, a letter of support from a faculty adviser familiar with the circumstances of your case)
- Current transcript and transcripts from other U.S. schools previously attended
- Photocopy of passport identification and visa pages; do not send your passport
The ISSS Advisor will create a new I-20. When the I-20 is ready, you will be contacted. You will mail the application, after it is reviewed by ISSS, to the USCIS.
Please be aware, USCIS can take 6 months to 1 year to process the reinstatement application.
Option 2: Travel and Reentry
In some cases it may be advisable to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20, rather than applying for reinstatement. You may do this by obtaining a new I-20 from the ISSS, then departing the U.S., paying a new SEVIS fee, applying for a new F-1 visa if the F-1 visa stamp in your passport has expired, and returning to the U.S.
Note that students who violated status are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation. A re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by Immigration as "initial attendance" in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training.
To request a new I-20 for travel and reentry complete the online application for a new I-20.
You must discuss your case with an ISSS adviser prior to a new I-20 being issued. Please find information on how to schedule an appointment with an ISSS adviser if you cannot come during walk-in hours here.