What happens if I fail to maintain legal status?
Students holding an F-1 visa are required to maintain legal status at all times. This is done by the following: enrolling on full-time basis; keeping a valid passport at all times while in the United States; avoiding unauthorized employment; and making normal academic progress toward their degree/certificate.
Students who fail to maintain their F-1 status may be able apply for reinstatement of their status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Office of Immigration Services will evaluate the circumstances in which the student fell out of status; only those who are able to prove that the circumstances were beyond the student's control will be considered for the reinstatement process. Students who have been out of status for more than five (5) months will not be eligible for reinstatement.
What is required for a reinstatement application?
The Office of Immigration Services will require the following for all reinstatement applications:
- A statement of purpose essay, addressed to the Immigration Services staff, explaining why the student should be considered for reinstatement and how the student’s circumstances and intent have changed
- This essay should be at least 250 words and be in a clear format.
- The essay should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Subject Line: Reinstatement Application)
Please Note: Allow at least 5 business days for processing. Once a decision has been made on behalf of the Office of Immigration Services, the student will be emailed with instructions on proceeding.
What documents should I bring to a reinstatement meeting with the Office of Immigration Services?
All students are required to schedule and attend an appointment with the Office of Immigration Services before a Reinstatement I-20 will be issued.
Documents to be reviewed by the ISSO and to be sent to USCIS:
- Form I-539
- Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status (form I-539)
- The phrase "Reinstatement to F-1 status" should be written in Part 2, Item 1. The student should complete the entire form, and sign it.
- Form I-539 fee, made payable to "US Department of Homeland Security"
- Copies of all I-20s previously issued to the student
- A new, original Form I-20, issued for Reinstatement (If approved, this will be issued by the Office of Immigration Services at the time of appointment)
- A letter from the student addressed to USCIS explaining the situation and requesting reinstatement
- This letter should establish that the violation resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control.
- A letter from the Office of Immigration Services recommending reinstatement and providing corroboration of the situation.
- This is required only when the violation of status resulted from an error on the part of the Office of Immigration Services.
- Copy of the new financial support documents in order to support the issuance of a new I-20 for reinstatement
- Original form I-94 Record
- Copy of identity pages from the student's passport and visa
- Any other documentation that might help establish the nature of the violation to document that the violation occurred less than 5 months ago and to show that the student is pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study
- Transcripts from all the schools the student has attended in the United States
- If you have any dependents in the United States, you must also include them in the application since a violation of your F-1 status affects your dependent family members as well