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, but only under the limited conditions specified at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16). 

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. The following conditions apply:

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement
  • Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations;
  • Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the form I-20;
  • Has not engaged in unauthorized employment; and
  • Is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
  • Establishes to the satisfaction of the Service by a detailed showing, either that: 
    • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster; or
    • The violation related to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have been within a DSO’s power to authorize and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.


You will need to submit the following documents to apply for reinstatement to F-1 status here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-539

  • Copy of your entire Form I-20 issued for applying for reinstatement purpose 
  • Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions) 
  • Complete USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit the appropriate fee. If you write a personal check, your address and phone number should appear on the check. You may also pay the fee with a money order or a cashier’s check.
  • If you have been out of status for more than 5 months, you must pay the SEVIS fee and submit the fee receipt
  • Copies of all of your immigration documents including valid passport, all U.S. visa stamps, and previous I-20’s
  • A cover letter explaining the circumstances that led to the violation and listing schools you have attended in the U.S. in chronological order
  • Provide an official transcript sealed in the envelope and a letter from your department or academic advisor 
  • Submit documentation that demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, or an offer letter from the department appointed as a GSI/GSRA.

What Happens Next

  • If your application is denied, you may not appeal that decision and you must depart the U.S. immediately. The F-1 visa stamp in your passport becomes invalid immediately, even if the dates remain valid.
  • If your application is approved, USCIS will send you your I-20 and Form I-797A. I-797A is your reinstatement approval notice. You may also receive either 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 IC Front Desk to arrange a meeting with an international student advisor after you receive the above-mentioned documents. Please make two sets of copies of the documents and bring both the original documents and the copies to your meeting with the advisor.