F-1 | Reinstatement
In certain circumstances, you can apply for reinstatement when you violate the term of your legal status. Reinstatement is a process in which you apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have mistakes cleared away and your legal student immigration status restored. Reinstatement is not something to be undertaken lightly, as not all students who apply for reinstatement are successful in obtaining it.
To apply for reinstatement, the student:
- Cannot have been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing reinstatement
- Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations
- Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future
- Has not engaged in unauthorized employment
- Is not deportable on any other grounds; and establishes to the satisfaction of USCIS by a detailed explanation showing either that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control OR the violation relates to a reduction in course load that would have been in the international student advisor's power to authorize, and failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.
How to Apply
For detailed instructions please review the reinstatement handout.
Alternative to Reinstatement: Travel and Re-entry
Students who are not eligible, or who are poor candidates for reinstatement do have an alternative method to regain their student status. The student can obtain a new I-20 marked "Initial Attendance" and use that new I-20 to travel outside and reenter the U.S. This is not the same as reinstatement and does not correct, or wipe out previous mistakes, but does allow a student to regain lawful student status. By this method students are effectively making a new entry to the United States. By making a new entry, they are in effect starting their student status clock all over again. This has implications, in that it means that one has to maintain status for a period of one full academic year after the new entry, before one can regain any eligibility for practical training or other off-campus work authorization.
The travel alternative may also be the best method for students when the speed of the travel option outweighs applying for conventional reinstatement.
Which Approach to Take?
It depends on the individual circumstances as to which approach to follow. Some of the factors to keep in mind:
- How close is your date of completion?
- Do you need to be in F-1 status right away for an assistantship or on-campus employment or because you are an athlete?
- How strong is your case for reinstatement - in other words was the situation somehow outside of your control, or something you could not have foreseen?
To discuss your situation more fully please schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor.