Reinstatement

If you have fallen out of status, you might be able to apply for reinstatement so that you can regain your legal status from within the US.

F-1 students

Eligibility

You can apply for reinstatement if:

  • You were out of status for less than 5 months (keep in mind that the earlier you take action, the more favorable the US government will look upon your application);
  • You will enroll in a full course of study;
  • Your violation was caused by circumstances beyond your control, such as serious injury or illness, natural disaster, or closure of the university; AND
  • You can provide evidence showing that if you don't get reinstated, it would cause extreme hardship.

You aren't eligible if you have a history of repeated violations, started working without employment authorization, or you've committed other serious violations.


How to apply

Schedule an appointment with your ISSS advisor, and bring these documents with you:

  1. Financial documentation showing funds for 1 year of tuition, fees, and living expenses equal to the financial certificate for your school. These certificates are updated each year, so if you need the latest version, please email ISSS.
  2. Copy of your passport ID page and any extension pages
  3. Copy of your most recent F-1 visa
  4. Copies of all I-20 forms issued to you (pages 1 and 3)
  5. Print-out of your I-94
  6. Official transcript from the registrar's office
  7. Completed Form I-539. In Part 2, item 1, check C.
  8. Letter explaining why you fell out of status. This letter should:
    1. Request reinstatement to F-1 student status
    2. Confirm that you intend to pursue a full course of study
    3. List your violation and the reasons for it
    4. Describe the negative consequences of not getting reinstatement for your specific circumstances
  9. Check or money order made out to the Department of Homeland Security

Your ISSS advisor will review your document, and if you're eligible, they will create a new I-20 for you within 5 business days. We will email you when it's ready for you to sign. Then, we'll mail the whole application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Alternatives

You can leave the US and re-enter with a new I-20 instead of applying for reinstatement. This is your best option if you don't qualify for reinstatement or if you have international travel plans in the near future. 

Your ISSS advisor will create a new SEVIS record with a new ID number for you, and you'll be considered a new F-1 student. This means you'll have to pay the SEVIS fee again and get a new F-1 visa. You'll also need to spend another year in F-1 status before you can apply for employment authorization or practical training.

J-1 students

Eligibility

You should schedule an appointment with your advisor as soon as you can to determine your eligibility for reinstatement, as the Department of State will view your case more favorably if you take action early. The J-1 reinstatement process is a difficult one, and there is no guarantee that your application will be successful.

The State Department won't reinstate you after any of these violations:

  • Not maintaining mandatory health insurance at all times while you're the US
  • Engaging in unauthorized employment
  • Suspension or termination from your program
  • Not paying the SEVIS fee
  • Not maintaining a full course load without getting prior approval from ISSS for a reduced course load
  • Being out of status for more than 270 days


How to apply

  1. Pay the State Department's J-1 exchange visitor program reinstatement fee on Pay.govInstructions >>

  2. Schedule an appointment with your ISSS advisor, and bring these documents with you:

    1. Copies of all previous DS-2019s

    2. SEVIS I-901 receipt

    3. Print-out of Pay.gov payment confirmation page

    4. If you have been out of status for more than 120 days (but less than 270 days), you must also show that it was a result of circumstances beyond your control, or that you will experience unusual hardship if you don't get reinstated. Unusual hardship is something that would not normally happen because of failure to get reinstatement, so needing to buy a return plane ticket would not be considered unusual hardship.

  3. Your advisor will send these documents to the State Department, which usually acts within 45 days.

If your reinstatement is approved, your advisor will email you when your new DS-2019 is ready for you to pick up.

If your reinstatement is denied, your advisor will notify you, and you'll have to leave the US immediately.

You can stay in the US until a decision is made.