Regaining Lawful Student Status

If you are in violation of status, you should contact an International Student Adviser immediately to review your situation, and make recommendations as to the best way to regain valid status.


Options for regaining status

  1. Regaining status by filing a reinstatement application with the US Immigration Service:
    You must file form I-539 and write a letter to the Immigration Service explaining how falling out of status was beyond your control OR how failure to be reinstated will lead to undue hardship. For more see “Required documentation to apply for Reinstatement”.
  2. Regaining status through travel outside the U.S.
    You also have the option of traveling to regain status instead of applying for reinstatement. When you travel to regain status, you are issued a new I-20 for "Initial attendance" with a new SEVIS ID number. You then leave the US and re-enter using the new I-20. When you enter the US and receive an I-94 marked "F-1 D/S", you will once again be in valid F-1 status.


Which is the best option?

It depends on your individual circumstances as to which approach to follow. Some of the factors to keep in mind are:

  • How close is your date of completion?
  • How soon you need to be back in F1 status? Because you have an assistantship or on-campus employment or because you are an athlete.
  • Do you have a valid visa stamp in your passport?
  • How strong is your case for reinstatement?

Regaining status through travel is usually faster, if you have a valid visa stamp. However, if you choose to travel to regain status, you will forfeit any time you have accrued toward practical training eligibility. You will need to be registered for one academic year in order to qualify for CPT or OPT.

The advantage of applying for reinstatement with USCIS is that, when approved, your SEVIS record is returned to active status, and there is no interruption of the time accrued towards eligibility for practical training. If denied, however, your visa is automatically cancelled; you are permanently limited to applying for nonimmigrant visas in your country of citizenship or permanent residence; you will begin accumulating days of "unlawful presence" if you remain in the US after the denial.