Reinstatement Fact Sheet


A student who fails to maintain F-1 or M-1 student status has two options to regain their legal immigration status:  (1) PREFERRED METHOD: Travel and reenter with a new immigration document I-20 OR (2) work with an immigration attorney to apply for reinstatement.  Each option is explained below.

Some 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 per DHS regulations)
  • Failure to maintain a passing GPA and needing a program extension to complete academic program

Option 1: Travel - Preferred Method

Students seeking reinstatement to legal F-1 student status are highly encouraged to travel outside the US and then reenter the US using a new "initial attendance" I-20, valid visa, valid passport, and a copy of the SEVIS fee payment receipt (since you would be receiving a new I-20, you would be required to pay the SEVIS fee and print out the receipt after payment.

Advantage: leaving and returning puts you back into legal status upon re-entry.

Option 2: Apply to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Working with an immigration attorney

A non-immigrant alien who has failed to maintain status may apply for reinstatement to lawful status by working with an immigration attorney. Adjudication is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security/US Citizenship & Immigration Services. There are very limited conditions for reinstatement as 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 five (5) months*
  • You do not have a record of repeat violations
  • You are pursuing a full course of study
  • You are not (or have not been) engaged in unauthorized employment
  • You are not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation
  • The status violation or failure to submit a Program Extension was beyond your control

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

School Attendance

An applicant for reinstatement to F-1/M-1 status must maintain full-time academic enrollment while the application is pending and abide by all compliance regulations. Failure to do so can result in the denial of your application.

Employment Benefits
No F-1 employment benefits are available until the reinstatement is approved; M-1 students are not allowed to work at all.  Please note that this can effect your ability to apply for Curricular Practical Training and/or Optional Practical Training.
Disadvantage: the reinstatement process  is currently taking about 18 months to complete. 
When you receive your final adjudication Notice of Action, bring your notice to the ISSS Office so that your immigration records can be adjusted accordingly and a copy made for your student file.



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