F-1 Reinstatement Fact Sheet

A student who fails to maintain F-1 student status should apply for reinstatement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Examples of how a student may fail to maintain status include:

  • Failure to complete the I-20 transfer procedure on time when changing schools or degree programs
  • Failure to apply for an extension of program before I-20 expires
  • Failure to complete a full course of study during a given semester (without a valid exception as determined by DHS regulations)


A non-immigrant alien who has failed to maintain status may apply for reinstatement for lawful status at the discretion of DHS, but only under limited conditions specified in Immigration Regulations.

An application for reinstatement may be considered if the following can be proved:

  • You have not been out of status for more than 5 months
  • You do not have a record of repeat violations
  • You are pursuing, or will in the next available term, a full course of study
  • You are not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • You are not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation
  • The status violation was beyond your control, or failure to timely submit a Program Extension or Less Than Full Course Load Authorization Form

Pending Reinstatement

You are not in legal F-1 status until your application for reinstatement is approved.

School attendance: An applicant for reinstatement to F-1 status must maintain full-time academic enrollment while the application is pending.

Employment benefits: No F-1 employment benefits are available until the reinstatement is approved.


As an alternative to applying for reinstatement in the U.S., you may opt to travel and re-enter the U.S. using a new “initial attendance” I-20. Please note that this type of travel will restrict your eligibility for practical training. Please consult with the International Student and Scholar Services Office to discuss this option further.

How to Apply

Please make an appointment with the ISSS Office and bring the following documents with you to your appointment:

  1. Check or money order* payable to Department of Homeland Security (*current application fee can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-539instr.pdf)
  2. Form I-539 http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-539.pdf
    (On Part 2, Question #1a, write "reinstatement to F-1 student status; on Part 3, Question #1, write "D/S")
  3. All previously issued I-20s
  4. I-94 card
  5. passport, with visa
  6. proof of financial support
  7. dependent’s documentation (passport, I-94, I-20—if applicable)
  8. personal letter explaining your situation and requesting a reinstatement
  9. copy of academic transcripts (this can be an unofficial copy)
  10. SEVIS Fee ($100) Payment Receipt (required if you have been "out of status" more than 5 months) www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/

Copies of your original documents will be made at your appointment and a new I-20 for Reinstatement will be issued

Suggestions for Personal Letter

A strong letter should establish convincingly why you are out of status by specifically stating the violation, and the reason(s) you are in violation. State how failure to receive reinstatement approval will affect you; state that you are currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study and specifically request that the Department of Homeland Security reinstate you to student status. Be sure to state that you have not violated any other immigration regulations and have not been employed without proper authorization.

Processing the Reinstatement

Once your application is complete and has been reviewed by the ISSS Office, it will be submitted to the Vermont Service Center for adjudication. In a few weeks you will receive a Notice of Action from the Service Center. This notice lets you know that the Service Center has received your application; it does not mean that the application has been approved. Read this notice carefully. If the Service Center is requesting further information, gather what is asked for and see the ISSS Office.
The reinstatement process can take a few months to be acted upon. You must be attending school full time and stay in compliance with all F-1 student regulations. Failure to do so can result in denial of your reinstatement. When you receive your final adjudication letter, you must inform the ISSS Office so that your immigration records can be adjusted accordingly.

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