Reinstatement of F-1 Status

A foreign student in F-1 status is expected to comply with immigration regulations. If the student fails to comply with these regulations, he/she will be considered “out of status.” When the student is out of status, he/she will no longer be eligible for on-campus employment, practical training, recertification of an I-20 for re-entry into the U.S., nor any other benefits provided to those in valid F-1 status.

However, if a foreign student is out of F-1 status for a certain period of time and is in the US, he/she may apply for reinstatement of F-1 status by submitting the following documents:

  1. Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status; and

  2. A properly completed SEVIS Form I-20 indicating the designated school official’s (DSO) recommendation for reinstatement.

The immigration officer may consider granting the request if the student:

  1. Is in the United States;

  2. Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);

  3. Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of the immigration regulations;

  4. Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;

  5. Has not engaged in unauthorized employment;

  6. Is not deportable on any ground other than being out of status; and

  7. Satisfactorily establishes that:

    1. The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for
      reinstatement; or

    2. The violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.

If the USCIS reinstates the student, the Service shall endorse the student's copy of Form I-20 to indicate the student has been reinstated and return the form to the student. If the Form I-20 is from a non-SEVIS school, the school copy will be forwarded to the school. If the Form I-20 is from a SEVIS school, the adjudicating officer will update SEVIS to reflect the Service's decision. In either case, if the USCIS does not reinstate the student, the student may NOT appeal that decision. Also, if the USCIS does not reinstate the student is not barred from applying for another visa, but the consular officer will consider why the student ceased full-time study and lost status in the first place, including any actual status violation.


Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(16)

(Updated 10/12/2012 by AD)

For more information about F-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: