Points to Consider

  • If you have been out of status for more than five months, you will need to pay the I-901 (SEVIS) Fee before filing an application for reinstatement.
  • Unlike the application procedure for Optional Practical Training, the USCIS does not send out a Notice of Action to indicate that your application for reinstatement is being processed. The only response that you will receive from the USCIS is the adjudication, which generally takes six to 12 months to receive.
  • While waiting for adjudication, you can continue to study and work on-campus, if you are already working.
  • You cannot begin working on-campus while waiting for adjudication.
  • While waiting for adjudication, you can travel using your old form I-20.
  • Time periods that you were out of status do not count toward the time required to be eligible for the various benefits of F-1 status, such as OPT.
  • If CIS denies you a Reinstatement, and your violation of status was less than full-time enrollment, you are subject to the penalties of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996, which means that you can be barred from entering the United States. Please see the coordinator for international student services/DSO for further details.
  • If the CIS adjudicating officer feels that additional information is needed in order to complete the review of your application, you will be sent a Request for Evidence (RFE), commonly referred to as a “Blue Sheet” since they are on blue paper.

    • Please note that the only circumstance in which CIS is required to issue an RFE is when initial evidence (evidence that is specifically indicated in the regulations, on the application or petition, or on accompanying instructions) is missing from the application. Issuance of an RFE is discretionary. This means that if your application is complete, but the evidence provided is insufficient to support your application, it can be denied without an RFE being issued beforehand.
  • Effective October 30, 2006, applications for Reinstatement are being processed and adjudicated at the CIS Vermont Service Center (VSC), instead of the CIS District Office in Latham, New York. In order to make certain that your application for Reinstatement is properly routed once it arrives at the VSC, it is necessary to note “STUDENT REINSTATEMENT” on the envelope.

In the event that an F-1 student violates his/her status, he/she is required by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for a reinstatement.

Definition: If it is determined that a violation of status has occurred, the USCIS will adjudicate (judge) whether or not to issue a reinstatement to lawful F-1 status (a judgment to forgive the violation of status or not to).

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for a reinstatement, the student must establish (through evidence) to the satisfaction of the USCIS that either:

  • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control, or
  • Failure to receive reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.

Application Procedure

Before applying for a reinstatement, it is important to determine if it is necessary.  Violations of status can occur in a number of ways, many of which are obvious, others that may not be.

Step 1 - Make an appointment with the coordinator for international student services/DSO to discuss applying for a reinstatement. Please bring with you the documentation listed below:

The coordinator for international student services/DSO will discuss your situation with you and determine if it is necessary to apply for a reinstatement. If it is determined that application for reinstatement is necessary, you will be advised as to what type of evidence you should submit with your application.

Step 2 - An application packet for Reinstatement is sent to CIS. The application packet should include the following materials:

  • Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
    • It is recommended that you sign the Form I-539 in blue ink. This will show the adjudicating officer that the signature is original and not photocopied.
  • Attachment to Form I-539
  • Evidence to support application
  • New Form I-20
  • Photocopies of all previously issued Form I-20s and/or Form I-20IDs
  • Photocopy of your passport (optional but recommended)
  • I-94 (Original)
  • Photocopies of financial documents
  • Letter from the DSO
  • If filing a paper application, Personal Check/Money Order for the required $400 application fee made payable to CIS.
    • A personal check is recommended, since the application receipt number will be printed on the canceled check, but is acceptable only if your name and address are preprinted on the front.
    • Dates on personal checks should be written in mm-dd-yy format (i.e., November 14, 2020 would be written as 11-14-20).
  • Mail your application to:
    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266

Step 3 - The USCIS issues adjudication regarding the student's application for reinstatement. The two possible results are:

  • The USCIS issues a reinstatement and you are returned to "Lawful F-1 Status."
  • The USCIS denies a reinstatement and the student needs to leave the United States.*
*If there is evidence that has just been found or that you feel has been overlooked or that the judgment was "unfair," you are advised to consult an immigration attorney. Please see the coordinator for international student services/DSO for further information.