Reinstatement to F-1 Status

Reinstatement to student status is necessary when you have lost F-1 status due to a rule violation.  For example, you have been a part-time student without permission, you failed to transfer from a previous school in a timely manner, or you have not been attending school at all for a period of time (excluding summer vacation). Reinstatement requires submission of an application and fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Students who have engaged in unauthorized employment are not eligible for reinstatement.  Instead of reinstatement, some students may choose to regain F-1 status by travel abroad.

Regaining Status by Reinstatement Application

  • Why: Student falls out of status for minor offense
  • When: Best within 5 months of falling out of status
  • Within 5 months of losing status – no new SEVIS fee.
  • Student’s Reinstatement I-20 has old SEVIS number.
  • Student does not need to or plan to travel abroad. Student should avoid travel while reinstatement is pending
  • Application: Form I-539 processing fee:
  • Process is slow. Student may study while application pending
  • Student who is reinstated is immediately eligible for all continuing student F-1 benefits (F-1 “clock” continues)

Regaining Status by Travel

  • Why: Student falls out of status for an offense
  • When: See advisor to discuss timing issues
  • More than 5 months after lost status – pay SEVIS fee. Student is issued new I-20 with NEW SEVIS number.
  • Student plans to travel abroad or must travel abroad due to length of time out of status, or due to unauthorized employment
  • Student does not file I-539 but may need to submit application for new F-1 visa. Additional cost=travel $
  • Process is generally fast. Generally student travels to his/her own country and visits US Consul.
  • Student who regains status by travel must be F-1 for 2 full semesters before regaining eligibility to work off campus in CPT or OPT (F-1 clock restarts).

Reinstatement by submitting an application to USCIS:

  1. Complete FORM G-1145:
  2. Complete FORM I-539 and attach check payable to Department of Homeland Security:
    1. In Part 2, question 1, check #3
  3. Copies of all previously-issued I-20s.
  4. Attach verification of finances (support affidavit, bank statement, etc.).
  5. Print out of your I-94:
  6. Attach copies of your F-1 visa page and your passport biography page
  7. Write a cover letter indicating why you want the USCIS to reinstate you to F-1 status (see sample below).  Be sure to carefully include how and why you violated status and how the violation was beyond your control, as well as your intention to maintain your status in the future.  Also address what hardship you would face if your request is denied and you are forced to leave the U.S.
  8. You can make an appointment to have ISS advisor help review your documents.  If the advisor is satisfied with your application, a notation of support will be provided.
  9. Obtain new original I-20 form requesting reinstatement from ISS. Allow 3-5 business days.
  10. Sign and date in item # 11 on page 1 of new original I-20.
  11. Make and keep a copy of everything you are sending to USCIS for your personal record.
  12. Mail your application. Refer to I-539 instructions for mailing address and processing fee. If mailing by US Postal Service, it is suggested that you use "Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested."
  13. If submitting more than 5 months since losing status, you must also attach receipt for payment of SEVIS fee. SEVIS fee payment can be made on-line here.  Complete form I-901 and print the SEVIS on-line fee receipt.

If your application is approved you will be sent an approval notice and your I-94 will be returned with a notation of status on the reverse side.  Approval may take 2 to 4 months.

Please remember to provide to ISS a copy of your approval or denial notice from USCIS when it  is received.

Sample Letter to USCIS

Dear USCIS Officer:

I am currently in the U.S. holding an F-1 Student Visa and have failed to maintain my status.
My violation was ___________________________________________________________________ .
The situation was beyond my control because _______________________________________________ .
If  I cannot be reinstated I will face the hardship of ___________________________________________ .
I would like to reinstate.  I intend to study full time until I complete my degree.

Please find my application, I-20, I-94, and supporting materials.
My permanent address abroad is: _______________________________________________________.
My address in Hawaii is:_____________________________________________________.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.



[Typed Name as it appears on passport/I-20]