A student who has violated their immigration status and whose status was terminated as a result of that violation may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of USCIS. USCIS may consider reinstating an F-1 student who makes a request for reinstatement on Form I-539 accompanied by a properly completed Form I-20 indicating the Designated School Official (DSO)’s recommendation for reinstatement.
F-1 students are required to maintain status by following the rules of their non-immigrant status. To learn more about the F1 student visa requirements please visit this page, Maintaining F1 Status
If you have violated your F-1 status it is in your best interest to request a reinstatement of your F-1 status as soon as possible.
How to Return to Status
There are two methods for correcting a terminated F-1 record. You may also want to consult with an immigration attorney to see which of these are the best option for your situation:
- Apply for reinstatement within the United States through USCIS.
- Departing the U.S. to Regain F1 Status
Option 1: Applying for Reinstatement
To apply for reinstatement, students need to:
- Request a reinstatement I-20
- Gather application documents
- Schedule an appointment with the International Student Services Office to review your application
- Mail the reinstatement application package to USCIS*
- Continue to maintain your status
*USCIS MUST receive your reinstatement application package within 30 days of the reinstatement I-20 creation.
Apply to Get a New I-20
You will need a new I-20 for the purposes of reinstatement. You must send a copy of this I-20 with your reinstatement application. To request an I-20, you will need to complete the Reinstatement Request form with supporting documents.
Documents to submit with this request:
Mailing your Application
It is recommended that you write “ I-539 Reinstatement Application” on the outside of the envelope and make a copy of this application for your own record. You might want to consider sending your application by express mail.
Applying for reinstatement is a lengthy process and this accumulation of time is something students need to consider when deciding if reinstatement is right for their situation. Please see the section below about unlawful presence.
Students who have filed for reinstatement should:
- Follow the rules for maintaining status, such as continued enrollment
- NOT travel outside the U.S.
- NOT be employed on or off campus while the reinstatement application is being processed.
Option 2: Departing the U.S. to Regain F1 Status
You can reinstate your F-1 status by departing the U.S. with a new initial I-20 and applying for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate. This can be a risky option, but in some cases this may be the more appropriate option for students. It is advised to consult an immigration attorney prior to taking this option.
Apply to get a New I-20
- To receive a new I-20 you will need to submit a new admissions application for the semester you wish you return to SAU.
Regaining Status through Travel Process
Because this is a new status you must be enrolled for two long semesters before becoming eligible for off-campus employment, even if you already met this requirement prior to the violation.
What is Unlawful Presence & How It is Determined
Unlawful presence for an F1 student is the time spent after committing an act that violates their status. Effective August 9, 2018, USCIS changed its policy on how an immigration status violation might lead an F student being subject to the 3- or 10-year reentry bar.
Under the new policy, USCIS will start counting days of unlawful presence the day after an F status violation occurs, unless the student is covered by an exception to the unlawful presence counting rules.
Consequences of Unlawful Presence
The amount of unlawful presence F1 students have accumulated will determine the length of time they may be barred from reenter the US:
- 3 years, if you depart the United States after having accumulated more than 180 days but less than 1 year of unlawful presence during a single stay and before the start of removal proceedings
- 10 years, if you depart the United States after having accumulated one year or more of unlawful presence during a single stay, regardless of whether you leave before, during, or after removal proceedings; or
- Permanently, if you reenter or try to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled after having accumulated more than one year of unlawful presence in addition to one or more stays in the United States.