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Regaining Legal F-1 Status

In certain circumstances, you can apply for reinstatement if you have violated the terms 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.

What should you do first?

Meet with an ISS advisor! 

Depending on your circumstances, your violation may or may not be corrected through reinstatement.  An ISS advisor can help determine your eligibility for reinstatement (although the final approval is made by USCIS), or whether traveling outside the U.S. and re-entering with an Initial Attendance I-20 to regain your status may be a better option.  You may consult with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising hours or by calling the ISS office to make an appointment.


Eligibility for Reinstatement (while remaining in the US)

To apply for reinstatement, the student:

  1. cannot have been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing reinstatement;
  2. does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations;
  3. is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future;
  4. has not engaged in unauthorized employment;
  5. is not deportable on any other grounds;
  6. 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 Reinstatement

For detailed instructions please review the reinstatement (pdf) handout.


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