International Student Services

Reinstatement to F-1 Status

An F-1 student who is in violation of their immigration status can regain status in one of two ways:

  • Reinspection: Also known as Travel and Re-entry, requires leaving the U.S. and reentering in initial F-1 status, or
  • Reinstatement: Application submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while in the U.S.

Reinstatement to F-1 status is a process that allows F-1 students to regain their lawful immigration status if they have fallen out of status due to certain violations or failures to comply with the regulations without having to exit the U.S. Reinstatement should be pursued as soon as possible after the violation or status violation discovery.

Reasons for Reinstatement
The following situations necessitate an application for reinstatement:

  • Failure to enroll full-time during a required term. Fall/spring for undergraduate students. Fall/winter/spring for Graduate students
  • Failure to obtain authorization for reduced course load during a required term
  • Failure to apply for extension of I-20 in a timely manner
  • Failure to enroll in the required minimum of in-person courses
  • Failure to complete the SEVIS record transfer process within 15 days of your program start date
  • Failure to make reasonable progress in your academic program

Eligibility Requirements

  • To be eligible for reinstatement to F-1 status, you must meet certain requirements as outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These eligibility requirements include:
  • Circumstances beyond your control: You must demonstrate that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control or that were out of your knowledge. USCIS may consider factors such as illness, natural disasters, or administrative errors as acceptable reasons for reinstatement eligibility.
  • Timely Filing: You must file for reinstatement within 5 months from the date of the status violation. It is generally recommended to pursue reinstatement as soon as possible after discovering the violation.
  • Continuously Pursuing a Full Course of Study: You must demonstrate that you are currently pursuing or intend to pursue a full course of study as required by the F-1 regulations. This typically means being enrolled as a full-time student at an approved educational institution.
  • No Unauthorized Employment: You must not have engaged in unauthorized employment while out of status. Once you are in violation of status, you are prohibited from engaging in employment on or off campus. Working without proper authorization is considered a deportable offense and can impact your eligibility for reinstatement.
  • No Prior History of Status Violation or Reinstatement Denial: If you have previously violated your F-1 status or if you applied for reinstatement and it was denied, you may not be eligible to apply again unless there are exceptional circumstances or new evidence to support your case.

It’s important to note that meeting these eligibility requirements does not guarantee approval for reinstatement. The USCIS will evaluate each reinstatement application on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual circumstances and the evidence provided. It is recommended to consult with a designated school official (DSO) or an immigration attorney who can guide you through the reinstatement process and provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.

Application Process

The reinstatement application process for F-1 students involves several steps and requires careful attention to detail. Here’s a general outline of the process:

STEP 1 – Consult with A Designated School Official (DSO): Schedule a meeting with the designated school official (DSO) at SPU to discuss your situation and intention to pursue reinstatement. The DSO will guide you through the process and provide you with the necessary forms and information.

STEP 2 – Gather Documentation: Collect all required documentation to support your reinstatement application. Supporting documents include:

  • Letter of Explanation: Write a detailed letter explaining the circumstances that led to your status violation or falling out of status. Clearly describe the factors that were beyond your control or knowledge and led to the violation. Be honest, concise, and provide supporting evidence or documentation where applicable.
  • Evidence of readily available Funds: You must provide evidence of readily available funds to cover your tuition and living expenses for up to one academic year. Be sure to review the University’s Cost of Attendance information to calculate your anticipated fees and expenses.
  • Affidavit of Support: If your studies are funded by anyone other than yourself, you must complete the SPU Affidavit of Support associated with your program level:
  • Professional Hybrid: MS Data Science or MS Business Analytics
  • All other Graduate Programs
  • Undergraduate Programs
  • Unofficial Copy of your Transcript
  • Additional Evidence: Include any additional supporting documents that validate your claims and help demonstrate your intention to comply with F-1 regulations. This may include academic transcripts, financial documents, medical records, or other relevant evidence.

STEP 3 – Submit the Request for Reinstatement I-20 to the CGL: Submit the Request for a Reinstatement I-20 and upload all required documents. A Designated School Official will review your request, determine eligibility, and issue a Reinstatement I-20. The I-20 will be available for download through the International Student Portal. Be sure to review the I-20 for accuracy before signing it.

STEP 4 – File Form I-539 Online: Upon receiving the Reinstatement I-20 from the CGL, you must submit your application for reinstatement to the USCIS by completing the Form I-539. Follow the instructions provided by USCIS for submission, including the required filing fee and any additional forms or documents requested.

STEP 5 – Monitor Application Status: Once you file the Form I-539, you will receive a Receipt number. Use that number to keep track of your application’s progress by checking Case Status Online through the USCIS website. USCIS processing times can vary, so be patient and allow for sufficient time for a decision to be made.

STEP 6 – Await USCIS Decision: USCIS will review your reinstatement application and make a decision. If approved, you will be granted reinstatement to F-1 status. If denied, you may need to explore other options or consult with an immigration attorney for further guidance.

STEP 7 – Notify the CGL of the USCIS Decision: Be sure to inform the CGL immediately upon receiving notification of approval. Once your application is approved by the USCIS we will need to register you in SEVIS in order to make your SEVIS record active. We will also provide you with an updated I-20 indicating “Continuing attendance”

Throughout the reinstatement process, maintain open communication with the CGL so that we can provide guidance and support. It’s crucial to follow all instructions provided by USCIS and ensure that your reinstatement application is submitted accurately and on time. If you have any concerns or questions, consider seeking legal advice from an immigration attorney who specializes in student visas.

Processing Time

Center for Global Learning: 10 business days to process the application for Reinstatement I-20
USCIS: 5 to 10 months to adjudicate the application for Reinstatement


Traveling outside the U.S. while waiting for adjudication of an application for reinstatement is considered abandonment of the application and requires issuance of an Initial Entry I-20. If you have a pending application for reinstatement and decide to exit the U.S., be sure to contact the CGL immediately for guidance.