When a foreign student is granted M-1 status, he/she is expected to fully 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 any of the benefits provided to those in valid M-1 status.
However, if a foreign student is out of status for a certain period of time, he/she may be eligible to apply for a reinstatement of status. Moreover, in order to be considered eligible to file a reinstatement of status application, the student must first be able to satisfy the qualifications outlined under U.S. immigration law. According to Federal regulations, the request for reinstatement may only be considered if the student:
Has not been out-of-status for more than 5 months at the time he/she files the request for reinstatement. (This requirement may be waived only if the student is able to explicitly demonstrate 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 soon as possible with respect to the exceptional circumstances);
Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations;
Is currently pursuing, or intends to pursue, a full course of study at the school which issued the SEVIS Form I-20;
Has not engaged in unlawful employment;
Is not deportable on any ground, other than being out of status; and
Successfully illustrates to the USCIS that:
The violation of status is the result of circumstances not within the student’s control, such as: serious injury or illness, closure of the institution the student was enrolled in, natural disasters, inadvertence, or oversight or neglect on the part of the designated school official; or
The violation is a result of a reduction in the student’s course load and failure to approve the reinstatement would result in extreme hardship.
If the student is able to satisfy the requirements listed above, then he/she will be eligible to file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status with the USCIS service center that has jurisdiction over the student’s school (proper filing location information can be found in the instructions of Form I-539). Coupled with Form I-539, the student will also need to submit a properly completed SEVIS Form I-20, indicating the designated school official’s recommendation for the student’s reinstatement.
If the student’s status is reinstated, the M-1 visa will remain valid. However, if the reinstatement application is denied, then the visa will be considered invalid. In the case of a denied application, the student is not barred from seeking another visa, but it should be noted that the consular officer will review the circumstances related to why the student lost his/her initial status.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 8 CFR § 214.2(m)(16)
For more information about M-1 visas, please click on one of the following links: