It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the immigration requirements for maintaining F-1 status. Following the requirements will allow you to maintain your lawful F-1 Status while in the U.S. Not knowing or being familiar with the F-1 requirements is not a valid reason for failing to follow them. Valid status is the foundation upon which all eligibility of benefits rests. Failure to maintain your F-1 status is likely to result in the termination of your F-1 record and immediate loss of all F-1 benefits. There are very few options available to students who have their F-1 record terminated due to a failure to maintain their F-1 status. Those options generally include filing for reinstatement, provided the student is eligible, or travel and re-entry under a new F-1 record.
F-1 students must follow specific rules and regulations to maintain their immigration status while in the U.S. However, students sometimes fall out of status due to circumstances outside of their control. In these cases, students will need to take steps to regain their F-1 status to continue in their program.
Oftentimes, students will choose to regain their F-1 status by departing and re-entering the U.S. with a new Initial SEVIS record. However, in rare cases, students may also attempt to request reinstatement of their F-1 status via application to USCIS.
To file a reinstatement application with USCIS, you will need an I-20 issued for reinstatement by OIS. To qualify for a reinstatement recommendation, your status violation must have been within the last 5 months. You will also need to demonstrate that your failure to maintain status was due to circumstances outside of your control (i.e. not due to willful violation or neglect of your responsibilities). OIS will review details related to your specific situation to determine whether or not to recommend reinstatement. If OIS provides the recommendation, we will issue you the I-20 you need to file the application with USCIS.
Once filed with USCIS, reinstatement applications often take 9-12 months (or longer) to process. Current processing times are available on USCIS’s website. Students do not have any benefits of F-1 status (such as US work authorization) while the application is pending and should stay enrolled full-time while the application with USCIS is processing. USCIS has full discretion to approve or deny the request and OIS cannot predict an outcome.
Due to the complexities and potential impact on your status, OIS recommends that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you in a reinstatement application. OIS cannot provide specific assistance with this application as it’s a personal application between you and USCIS. Our role at OIS is mostly to issue the reinstatement recommendation I-20.
If you believe you’re in a situation that requires reinstatement, please reach out to OIS right away to discuss your situation and your eligibility for reinstatement.