Reinstatement of I-20

A student who has failed to maintain F-1 status may apply to USCIS to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status. Reinstatement is only granted under the limited conditions and in the discretion of USCIS.

USCIS may consider reinstating a student to F-1 status if the student can prove the following:

  • The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement (unless he or she can show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented the student from filing during the 5-month period)
  • The student does not have a record of repeated violations
  • The student is pursuing, or will in the next available term be pursuing, a full course of study
  • The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • The student is not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which reinstatement is being requested
  • The status violation resulted from either:
    • Circumstances beyond the student's control; or
    • Failure to apply in a timely fashion for a reduced course load authorization from the DSO, but only if the violation relates to something that would have been within the DSO's authority to have approved, if it had been timely done, and that the student would experience extreme hardship if the application were not approved.


Reinstatement Application Procedures

Reinstatement Biographical Application (PDF)

The student should first discuss his or her situation in detail with a DSO, who will assess the case, and the student's viability of reinstatement. If the DSO recommends that the student apply for reinstatement, the student should do the following, and submit the documentation to the DSO:

  • Provide the DSO with all the documents necessary to issue a new Form I-20 including (if necessary) updated financial support documents and proof of viablity to enroll.
  • Write a letter of explanation addressed to USCIS, stating the following: why he or she is out of status (specify the violation); the reason for the status violation; the effect on the student of failure to receive reinstatement; a statement that he or she is currently pursuing or is intending to pursue a full course of study; and specifically request that USCIS reinstate him or her to F-1 student status.
  • Complete and sign Form I-539 (Application to Extend Status/Change Nonimmigrant Status), indicating in Part 2 that the application is for reinstatement to student status. Part 2 of the most recent version of Form I-539 has a "Reinstatement to student status" checkbox at item 1 for this purpose.
  • Write a check in the amount of the fee for Form I-539. See the USCIS Forms site for current fee and form information.
  • Students who have been out of status for more than 5 months will also have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee, and include proof of payment with their recertification application. Students who have been out of status for less than 5 months do not have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee.

After Submission of I-539

Students who apply to have their F-1 status reinstated should expect to follow the rules and regulations expected of lawful-status students, even while the application for reinstatement is being adjudicated (decided upon) by USCIS. At any time, USCIS may directly request more information or evidence from you to prove your eligibility for reinstatement. You should expect to respond to these notices in a timely and professional manner.

It is USCIS' final decision on whether your lawful F-1 status may be reinstated. If a positive decision is issued, then you must continue to follow the F-1 status rules and regulations as was expected. If your reinstatement request is denied, you must follow USCIS' instructions in the denial notice, and you may be expected to immediately depart the US.

If your reinstatement application is denied or not viable for any reason, an alternative is for you to leave the US with a new I-20 and SEVIS ID number. In these cases, your request for the F-1 status would be similar to starting the entire visa stamp interview and request process again.