Reinstatement for F-1 Students

Click HERE for further instructions and forms.


What is Reinstatement?

F-1 students who have failed to maintain their immigration status may request reinstatement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS has the discretion to reinstate F-1 students to lawful immigration status.


Normally, the USCIS will reinstate a student to lawful F-1 student status if the following criteria are proven to the satisfaction of the USCIS:

  • The violation of status was due to circumstances beyond the student’s control OR failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship to the student AND
  • The student is currently pursuing a full-time course of study AND
  • The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment AND
  • The student has not been out-of-status for more than 5 months.


Who should apply for Reinstatement?

An F-1 student should apply for Reinstatement in the following situations:

  • The student failed to maintain a full-time course of study during one semester.
  • The student did not have Designated School Official (DSO) approval for a Reduced Course Load during one semester.
  • The student failed to apply for an I-20 extension prior to the expected completion date in section 5 of the I-20.
  • The student failed to complete a SEVIS transfer from one school to another in a timely manner.


How do I apply for Reinstatement?

First, you will need a new I-20 for your application for Reinstatement. To obtain a new I-20, submit the following to GPO, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226:

  • A cover letter from you addressed to the USCIS requesting Reinstatement to Student Status and explaining your circumstances. Be sure to address the above criteria as they pertain to your situation and include any other relevant information. Address your letter as follows:


Attn: I-539

2501 S. State Highway 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067

  • International Student Data Form
  • Completed Form I-539
  • Copies of all previous I-20s
  • Financial documentation for new I-20
  • Form I—901 (proof that you paid the SEVIS fee). Note: Only for students who were out-of-status for more than five months.
  • Original I-94 card
  • Check in the amount of $290 payable to “USCIS”
  • Photocopy of your passport biographical page
  • Photocopy of your visa stamp


What happens after I submit my application to GPO?

An International Student Advisor will review your application for Reinstatement and advise you if additional documentation, explanation, or revisions are needed.


Who will send the application to the USCIS?

When your application for Reinstatement is complete, you will send your application to the USCIS via a mailing service with tracking such as FedEx or UPS.


How long is the Reinstatement process?

The estimated processing time is two months. You should continue to attend school while your application is pending, but you may not engage in any on-campus or off-campus employment until you are reinstated to F-1 status. If you travel outside the United States while your Reinstatement application is pending, USCIS will consider that you have abandoned your application.


After your application has been reviewed by the USCIS, they will inform GPO of their decision. GPO will then notify you by e-mail.


How does Reinstatement affect my dependents?

If your form I-20 has expired or you fail to complete a transfer to another school in a timely manner, your SEVIS record will become inactive. If your SEVIS record is inactive, your dependents’ records will also be inactive and we will not be able to issue I-20s for your dependents. Therefore, neither you nor your dependents should travel outside the U.S. until you have been reinstated to F-1 status.


 Click HERE for further instructions and forms.


Reprinted with the permission of IETS.

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