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Reinstatement to Active F-1 Status

F-1 visa students that violate the conditions of their visa by not complying with the Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations are considered out-of-status. A student who is out-of-status is no longer eligible for F-1 visa status benefits such as on-campus employment, CPT, and OPT.

Out-of-status students who wish to continue studying as an F-1 student at (or transfer to) Texas State University must regain valid status. To regain F-1 status, a student may apply for reinstatement in cases where the violation was outside of the student’s control and the student continues to attend, or plans to attend, a program of study. Alternatively, you may request a new SEVIS record with a new I-20, depart the US and re-enter under a new I-20 with new SEVIS ID, a valid visa, and valid passport.


Important Notes:

  • Traveling out and re-entering the US to re-establish F-1 status will affect practical training eligibility. Student must re-accumulate one academic year as full-time enrollment to qualify for either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Working without authorization is a violation of your status that CANNOT be corrected through reinstatement. You can only regain status by departing and re-entering the US.

Reasons Why Students Fall Out-of-Status:

  • Failure to maintain full-time status throughout the academic semester (i.e. dropping a course in the middle of the semester or enrolling less than full-time without an approved Reduced Course Load)
  • Failure to maintain full-time status while concurrently enrolled
  • Working off-campus without authorization or working beyond the conditions allowed for on-campus employment
  • Failure to extend I-20 before the I-20 Program End Date deadline
  • Failure to enroll by the start of the semester

Eligibility for Reinstatement:

Under federal regulation, an F-1 student is only eligible for reinstatement if all of the following conditions apply:

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates 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 promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
  • Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of the Service regulations;
  • Currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;
  • Has not engage in unauthorized employment;
  • Not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
  • Establishes to the satisfaction of USCIS, by a detailed showing, either that:
  1. The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement; or
  2. The violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.

Final Consideration:

  • See USCIS Form I-539 processing times: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/.
  • Students must maintain full-time enrollment while the reinstatement application is pending.
  • Pending reinstatement students are not eligible for any F-1 student benefits unless and until reinstatement is approved.
  • Travel outside of the US is not recommended while the reinstatement application is pending may be considered an abandonment of the application.
  • If approved, you are one again eligible for F-1 student benefits. Contact ISSS for a new I-20.
  • If denied, you must depart the US otherwise you will begin to accrue unlawfully presence in the US. A denial cannot be appealed, although a motion to reopen or reconsider may be filed if warranted. Your Denial Notice will inform you of your options. The effect of a denial is very serious, and you should schedule an appointment with the DSO.

Applying for Reinstatement

Step 1 – Schedule an appointment with a DSO

Call or schedule an appointment online with a DSO to assess your eligibility for reinstatement or discuss next steps for being out-of-status. Prior to the appointment, please review and complete Legal Advice and ISSS Advising Statement of Understanding (see page 3 of the Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status Handout). 

Step 2 – Submit the following documents for reinstatement application:

  1. Immigration documents for you and any dependents:
  • All I-20s (from previous institution(s) and Texas State showing continuous valid status)
  • Color copy of unexpired passport
  • Color copy of F-1 visa or I-797 Change of Status Approval Letter
  • Most recent I-94
  1. Complete and sign Form I-539, Application to Extend Status/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • Indicate in Part 2 that the application is for reinstatement to student status (checkbox item 3)
  • Write "REINSTATEMENT" at the top of the form to further distinguish it from other uses of Form I-539
  1. Complete and sign Form I-539A - required for every co-applicant included on Form I-539. Parents may sign for children under age 14. 
    • Important Update for Reinstatement requests: Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A. Parents may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign. Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions. Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539. USCIS will reject any revised Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.
  2. A detailed, typed letter of explanation addressed to USCIS explaining why you fell out of status. The letter should establish convincingly that the violation resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control or relates to a reduction in course load that would have been within the DSO's power to authorize. If related to a failure to obtain a reduced course load authorization, the letter will also have to establish the nature of the extreme hardship the student would face if reinstatement were not granted.
  • Describe your violation. You must state the reason for the status violation:
    • how your violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control or that failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship,
    • the effect of failure to receive reinstatement,
    • you are currently pursuing or intend to pursue a full course of study at Texas State University,
    • specifically request that USCIS reinstate your F-1 student status.
  1. Evidence of financial support demonstrating ability to pay tuition and fees, and living expenses in the US for you and your dependents (if applicable). Must cover the cost of attendance for at least one academic year.
  • Academic assistance: assistantship, scholarships, fellowships, other awards; submit official award letter or email
  • Personal funds: bank statement or a letter on bank letterhead not older than 3 months
  • Governmental or home country scholarship: A letter from your university or sponsoring agency.
  1. Academic transcript from all academic institutions attended in the US. Transcript should show current or next session full-time enrollment in courses. A class schedule can be helpful to demonstrate enrollment.
  2. Personal checks or money orders payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for:
    1. $370.00, Form I-539 filing fee and
    2. $85.00, biometrics service fee for every applicant and co-applicant (your dependents)
  3. New Reinstatement I-20 - Request using the request button below
  4. Any other documentation that helps establish the nature of the violation, to document that the violation occurred less than 5 months ago, or to justify why it should be accepted even if the violation occurred more than 5 months ago (i.e. medical documentation, or DSO letter if due to DSO’s error)
  5. Proof of payment of the SEVIS I-901 fee
  • Students out of status for less than 5 months do not have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee. Submit a copy of your original I-901 SEVIS Fee payment receipt. Ask the DSO to print your SEVIS profile page showing proof of I-901 fee payment.
  • Students out of status for more than 5 months have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee [8 CFR 214.13(d)(7)], and include proof of payment with their reinstatement application.

Step 3 – Mailing Documents

Once you receive your new Reinstatement I-20, mail your reinstatement application with all required documents to the appropriate USCIS Service Center.

Find the direct filing address on the USCIS Form I-539 website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-539-addresses.


Review Reinstatement to F-1 Student Status Handouts Note: Reinstatement I-20 process will take approximately 5 - 8 business days.

Helpful Information:

Expand or Collapse all.
  • 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16)

    (16) Reinstatement to student status. -

    • (i) General. The district director may consider reinstating a student who makes a request for reinstatement on Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, accompanied by a properly completed SEVIS Form I-20 indicating the DSO's recommendation for reinstatement... The district director may consider granting the request if the student:
      • (A) Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates 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 promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
      • (B) Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations;
      • (C) Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;
      • (D) Has not engaged in unauthorized employment;
      • (E) Is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act [ed. note: overstaying or failing to maintain status]; and
      • (F) Establishes to the satisfaction of the Service, by a detailed showing, either that:
        • (1) The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement; or
        • (2) The violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.
      • (ii) Decision. If the Service reinstates the student, the Service shall endorse the student's copy of Form I-20 to indicate the student has been reinstated and return the form to the student. If the Form I-20 is from a non-SEVIS school, the school copy will be forwarded to the school. If the Form I-20 is from a SEVIS school, the adjudicating officer will update SEVIS to reflect the Service's decision. In either case, if the Service does not reinstate the student, the student may not appeal that decision.
  • A February 6, 2020 permanent injunction now blocks DHS from applying its August 8, 2018 policy guidance on unlawful presence for F, M, and J nonimmigrants. Until further notice, USCIS's prior policy on unlawful presence will apply to F, M, and J nonimmigrants. See:

    • USCIS Memo: Consolidation of Guidance Concerning Unlawful Presence for Purposes of Sections 212(a)(9)(B)(i) and 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(I)," Neufeld, D.; Scialabba, L.; Chang, P. (May 6, 2009)
    • AFM 40.9.2 - USCIS guidance on unlawful presence

    Under the prior policy currently in effect, for F and J nonimmigrants admitted for duration of status (D/S), unlawful presence is not counted until the day after a USCIS officer (when adjudicating a request for benefits such as reinstatement) or an immigration judge makes a formal finding of a status violation.

    If USCIS denies a student's reinstatement application, the student:

    • May also have to contend with the possibility that USCIS could serve a Notice to Appear (NTA) on the applicant, and commence removal (deportation) proceedings.
    • Will be subject to the INA § 222(g) overstay provision. See 11.E.2 Overstay under INA 222(g).
    • Will begin to accrue unlawful presence under INA 212(a)(9)(B); see:
      • 11.E Overstay and Unlawful Presence
      • 3.H.3.2 Reinstatement and unlawful presence

    This can seriously interrupt a student's studies and future eligibility for immigration benefits. Because of the serious consequences of reinstatement denial, students should be encouraged to seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer to inform their decision on restoring their status. Enrolled students may consult with Attorney for Students.

  • If a student decides to depart the country and re-enter with a new I-20, rather than applying for reinstatement:

    • A new SEVIS record (with a new SEVIS ID#) must be created
    • The student needs to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again
    • The "full academic year clock" will start over for purposes of practical training and off-campus employment authorization purposes
    • The student must assess (ideally with legal counsel) whether a departure from the United States would trigger a 3 or 10-year reentry bar; see 11.E.3.2.1 Unlawful presence for F and J nonimmigrants admitted for Duration of Status)
    • The student must assess (ideally with legal counsel) whether the underlying status violation triggered the automatic cancellation of his or her F-1 visa under INA 222(g), for purposes of determining whether a new F-1 visa would also be required
  • DHS regulations establish a higher burden of proof for students who file for reinstatement more than 5 months after a status violation. If a student files a reinstatement application more than 5 months from the date of the status violation, in addition to every other reinstatement condition discussed at 3.H.3.4 Conditions for approval of reinstatement, he or she must also prove:

    • That there were exceptional circumstances that prevented filing within the 5-month period, and
    • That he or she filed the request for reinstatement as soon as possible given those exceptional circumstances,
  • INA § 222(g) (overstay and visa cancellation) and § 212(a)(9)(B) (unlawful presence) are two penalty provisions that can be activated if a request for reinstatement is denied. Since reinstatement by definition consists of a finding by USCIS that there has been a status violation, the denial of a reinstatement application would in all likelihood be considered a "formal finding of a status violation... resulting in the termination of the period of stay authorized by the Attorney General." Under the most recent guidance on the applicability of INA 222(g) and § 212(a)(9)(B), the reinstatement denial would have the following effects, as of the date of the denial:

    • The visa that the student used to enter the United States may be automatically cancelled;
    • The student may be permanently limited to applying for nonimmigrant visas in the future only in his or her country of citizenship or permanent residence;
    • The student will begin (or resume) accumulating days of "unlawful presence."
      • If the student departs the United States after accumulating more than 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence (i.e. 181-364 days), he or she will be barred from returning to the United States for three years;
      • If the student departs the United States after accumulating one year or more of unlawful presence (i.e., 365 days or more), he or she will be barred from returning to the United States for ten years.
  • A student who is not in valid F-1 status is not eligible for F-1 employment benefits.

    For off-campus student employment, the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(A) state that off-campus "employment authorization is automatically terminated whenever the student fails to maintain status."

    SEVP’s guidance states:

    "While a request for reinstatement is pending with USCIS, the student:

    • Can and should continue a full-time program of study at the school where they are enrolled
    • Must comply with all the requirements for maintaining student status
    • Should not travel outside the United States, as doing so will be considered an abandonment of the pending reinstatement application. If the student decides to do so, he or she will have to reenter on a new, initial attendance Form I-20 as well as pay the SEVIS fee
    • Cannot work on or off campus

    Out-of-status students are not eligible to apply for any student-related benefits while the reinstatement is pending."