Reinstatement is the process for students who have failed to maintain F-1 status to be reinstated to lawful F-1 status. Reinstatement is only granted under the limited conditions specified at 8 CFR § 214.2(f) (16) and the discretion of USCIS.
Falling out of F-1 status is a very serious violation of responsibility as an international student. It can have long-term consequences on a student's immigration benefits in the United States (U.S.). A student who is out of status is no longer eligible for benefits such as practical training, on-campus employment, and travel signatures to re-enter the US If you are out of status and fail to rectify your status through reinstatement, you risk being deported and/or being unable to secure visas to enter the U.S. in the future.
- Reinstatement: Apply for reinstatement by applying to USCIS within the U.S. You will need to provide documentation that you fell out of status due to circumstances beyond your control, and an immigration officer will decide whether or not to reinstate you based on the information provided in the application. You must continue to take and pay for classes while the reinstatement request is pending. You are not allowed to be employed. If an application is denied, you must exit the country immediately.
- Travel and re-entry: You must exit the US and return on a new I-20 issued to you by a DSO. To obtain a new I-20, you will need to provide the same kind of financial documentation you showed when you were first admitted to ECC. If you currently have a valid F-1 visa, you can travel to a different country and show your new I-20 when you re-enter the U.S. If you do not have a valid F-1 visa, you will need to make a visa appointment in your home country, obtain the visa, and then return to the U.S. using your new I-20. If you decide to pursue option number two, please note that you will have to wait two academic semesters before you are eligible for practical training (CPT and OPT).
USCIS may consider reinstating you to F-1 status if you can prove the following:
- You have not been out of status for more than five months before filing for reinstatement (unless you can show that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented you from filing during the 5 months).
- You do not have a record of repeated violations.
- You are pursuing, or will in the next available term be pursuing, a full course of study.
- You have not engaged in unauthorized employment.
- You are not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which reinstatement is being requested.
- The status violation resulted from either:
- Circumstances beyond your 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 you would experience extreme hardship if the application were not approved.
Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. ECC reserves the right to refuse to support any reinstatement application. Students filing for reinstatement more than five months from the date of the status violation will be considered by ECCC, but any support for a reinstatement application in these instances must be accompanied by the reinstatement application being facilitated by a US licensed attorney. ECC will require proof that an attorney will support the student's application before issuing an I-20 requesting reinstatement. All fees related to the expense of an attorney are the responsibility of the student. Students who have been out of status for more than five months will also have to pay a new SEVIS I-901 fee [8 CFR 214.13(d)(7)] and include proof of payment with their recertification application.
Expect to wait two to four months for a reply from USCIS. If your application is approved, USCIS will send you your I-20 and Form I-797A (reinstatement approval notice). You may also receive your original I-94 card back (if you mailed in your original), or you may receive a new I-94 card located at the bottom of Form I-797A. Please call the Center for International Education and Programs at +1-847-214-7809 to arrange a meeting with a DSO after you receive these documents. Please bring these documents with you, along with a copy, to your appointment with the DSO.
If your request for reinstatement is denied, you must depart the US immediately; denial of the application for reinstatement cannot be appealed, although a motion to reopen or reconsider may be filed by you or your attorney if warranted [8CFR214.2f16ii].