Reinstatement of F-1 status is intended for students who committed an infraction of the F-1 rules. Some examples of F-1 status violations which require reinstatement are:
- Failure to maintain full-time registration by not enrolling full-time or dropping credits without SEVIS authorization
- Unauthorized employment such as working off-campus without USCIS authorization or failing to obtain CPT authorization for internships or practicums
- Exceeding authorized employment such as exceeding the on-campus work hour limit or working outside of the authorized CPT limits
- Failure to apply for a Program Extension before the expiration date on the Form I-20
- Failure to request a transfer from UF within 60 days of completion date or OPT end date
How to apply for reinstatement in the U.S.
F-1 students who fall out of status must apply for Reinstatement to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to regain certain benefits of F-1 status. In order to apply for reinstatement, the student should make an appointment with an International Student Advisor (ISA) at UFIC for advice and to determine the eligibility for reinstatement. If the student is eligible for reinstatement, the ISA will issue a new I-20 for reinstatement to submit with the application to USCIS.
The reinstatement application must include the following documents:
- Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change nonimmigrant status, completed for reason “Reinstatement to student status”
- Application fee of $370.00 and a biometrics fee of $85.00 made payable to the Department of Homeland Security, in the form of a check or money order
- New I-20 for reinstatement (will be issued during the appointment with the ISA)
- Financial documentation covering the tuition, fees, and living expenses for the program of study
- USCIS requests three months of bank statements to be provided for each account used to prove the student’s or sponsor’s financial ability
- Documentation regarding current immigration/visa status including:
- The original paper I-94 or I-94 record printout from Customs and Border Protection showing the most recent entry to the U.S. in F-1 status for D/S (Duration of Status)
- Photocopy of passport identification page, expiration date, and F-1 visa page
- Photocopy of the passport page containing the most recent U.S. entry stamp
- Photocopies of all previous I-20s from the current and any previous schools
- A recent official transcript; transcripts can be requested from the Registrar Office
- A letter of explanation indicating the circumstances for which the student fell out of status. The letter should include the following:
- Statement that the student is attending school full time
- Statement that the student has not worked illegally during the period in which he/she has been out of status
- Chronological order of events that led to the status infraction and steps taken to remedy the situation
Mailing and Processing Times
The ISA will provide the student with a Reinstatement Checklist that contains the proper mailing address for the application. Before mailing the application to USCIS, the student must make copies of all the application materials for personal records. The application must be sent with a mail service that provides tracking in case the applicant needs to track the package to confirm delivery at USCIS. All documentation sent to USCIS must be in English. Any documentation in another language must be accompanied by an official notarized translation.
Once USCIS receives the application, the student will receive a Notice of Action letter, confirming receipt of the application and providing the case number. Processing times for reinstatement applications may vary, averaging six to nine months for processing, and sometimes longer. An applicant can track the progress of the case via the USCIS case status online and check current processing times via the USCIS processing time site. If the student moves while the application is still pending, the student must file a Change of Address online with USCIS so that all future communication is mailed to the correct address. This needs to be completed within 10 days of the move. Failure to do so may lead to the loss of important mail.
Once the case is under review, a USCIS case officer may determine that additional information is needed to render a decision on the case. If so, USCIS will mail the student a Request for Evidence (RFE) letter detailing what evidence is needed. The student needs to follow all instructions given in the RFE letter exactly to minimize the possibility of an application denial. Not all applicants will receive an RFE. If the case officer has sufficient information, a decision will be made and a formal decision letter will be mailed to the student.
If the reinstatement is approved, USCIS will issue a formal Approval Notice. The student must bring the Approval Notice to the UF International Center within 15 days of receiving it. If the application is denied, USCIS will issue a Denial Notice that provides the reasoning for denial. The student must provide a copy of the denial letter to UFIC and needs to prepare to depart the U.S. within 15 days of receiving a denial. In certain cases, when the application is denied, the student may have the option to file to have the case re-opened.
During the time that the application is pending at USCIS, the student is required to register full time each fall and spring semester. However, any privileges associated with F-1 status, such as on-campus employment or practical training, are not available to the student while the application is pending.
Reinstatement OUTSIDE the U.S.
Reinstatement outside the U.S. (sometimes referred to as "Reinstatement by Travel") requires the student to depart the United States and return with a new I-20 issued for "Initial Attendance." The student should meet with an International Student Advisor (ISA) for more information before choosing this option. This process may also involve an application for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy.
If choosing to reinstate by travel, the student must come to UFIC within 15 days of re-entering the United States. The student must bring to UFIC the I-20 used for entry, along with the passport, F-1 visa, and I-94 record printout.