Reinstatement to Legal F-1
A non-immigrant F-1 student who violated the terms of his/her status may be
eligible to apply for a reinstatement to F-1 status. According to the Code of
Federal Regulations for individuals who have been in the United States in legal
F-1 status, "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may consider reinstating an F-1 student...if the student
established to the satisfaction of the Service that the violation of status
resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control or that failure to
receive reinstatement to lawful F-1 status would result in extreme hardship to
the student; is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of
study 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 241 (a)(1)(B)
or (C)(1) of the Act."
The DSO (Designated School Official) should first determine whether the student
is eligible to file a reinstatement application. If the student is not eligible
because of unauthorized employment, the student should be advised that the only
way to regain status is through travel out of the U.S. If the student is
eligible to file for reinstatement, the following documents must be compiled for
the application to USCIS:
- A written letter of explanation to the USCIS. The student should write a explaining why s/he violated the terms of
- Original Form I-20 (student copy) initially
issued to the student.
- New Reinstatement Form I-20.
- Evidence of sufficient financial support.
This typically means a new and updated sponsor affidavit and original bank
documents which amount to proof of over $18,510 for an academic year at
Moraine Valley; include $3,000 more on financial documents for each
dependent if on the application with primary.
- A completed USCIS Form I-539.
- $290 fee in the form of a bank check or
money order, made out to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Photo copies of these pages from the
applicant's valid passport: expiration date, passport number, page with
visa, and passport photograph.
- Photocopy of the white Arrival Departure
I-94 card (front and back).
- Photocopies of any dependents' I-94 cards if
they are included with F-1.
- Copies of any previously issued Form I-20
from previous schools, or other USCIS status documentation (may be useful,
depending on the circumstances).
- Important: make a set of photocopies of the
entire application for the student's school file and for maintaining
appropriate USCIS records.
Mailing and Processing Reinstatement
applications are mailed to USCIS California Service Center, P.O. Box 10539,
Laguna Niguel, CA, 92607-1053. Procedures are subject to change, and chances of
approval will vary depending on the circumstances. Students are advised to
discuss the application directly with the school DSO.
Mail all documents
noted above to the following address:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10539
Laguna Niguel, CA, 92607-1053
The student should generally expect to
receive a response from USCIS within one to three months. The student will not
receive a letter of receipt when filing a reinstatement application. If the
application is approved, the student will receive the original I-20 student
copy back with a stamp in the right-hand corner indicating reinstatement to
F-1 status approved. If the student is denied, s/he will receive a departure
notice, which usually gives the student 30-60 days to depart the U.S.
Legal Status Issues
A student may regain legal F-1 status in one of two ways. S/he may apply to
USCIS for a formal reinstatement as explained above, or by traveling outside of the
U.S. and re-entering. To regain status by travel, the student must make sure
that the border official stamps the I-20 and issues a new I-94 card with the
notation "F-1, D/S" and the date of re-entry. The disadvantage of
regaining F-1 status is that USCIS does not consider this to be an actual
reinstatement. Therefore, the student who regains status by travel must wait
nine months before applying for any off-campus employment authorization.
Students who make a formal application to USCIS, and are approved, are eligible to
apply for off-campus employment authorization immediately upon receiving
approval of their reinstatement application, provided they otherwise satisfy the