F-1 Reinstatement

A student who has failed to maintain F-1 status has two options for attempting to restore valid F-1 status:

  1. Request a new initial attendance I-20 from the Slutzker Center, leave the US, and attempt to obtain a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the US.  You must also repay the SEVIS fee.
  2. File for reinstatement.

USCIS reviews all requests for Reinstatement. You must file Form I-539 (available under forms at www.uscis.gov) with the filing fee and a Form I-20 recommending reinstatement by a Slutzker Center advisor. Follow all general instructions and F-1 specific instructions for the Form I-539.

USCIS may reinstate an F-1 student, if the student:

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances).
  • Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations;
  • Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future 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 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
  • Establishes to the satisfaction of the Service by a detailed showing, either that
    • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster; or
    • The violation related to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.


    Please make an appointment with a Slutzker Center advisor to discuss the reinstatement process.
    The following documents are necessary to apply for reinstatement to F-1 status:

    • Copy of your new I-20 noting “Reinstatement Requested”
    • Copy of your I-94
    • Complete USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status - when completing the form, indicate in Part 2 that the application is for “reinstatement to student status”
    • Application fee - If you write a personal check, your address and phone number should appear on the check. You may also pay the fee with a money order or a cashier's check.  Make payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
    • SEVIS Fee Receipt - If you have been out of status for more than 5 months, you must pay the SEVIS fee again.
    • Copies of all of your immigration documents including the identity page of your passport and your F-1 visa, the front and back of your I-94 card (or the electronic printout from www.cbp.gov/I94), and copies of your previous I-20s
    • Cover letter addressed to USCIS, stating the following:
      • why you are out of status (specify the violation)
      • the reason for the status violation
      • the effect on you of failure to receive reinstatement (for example, you will not be able to complete your degree program)
      • a statement that you are currently pursuing or are intending to pursue a full course of study
      • a statement that you have not worked without prior authorization (if that is the case)
      • specifically request that USCIS reinstate you to F-1 student status
      • If you have been out of status for more than five months, explain your delay in applying for reinstatement and how you are filing your request as promptly as possible under the circumstances. 
      • Please sign your letter. 
    • Slutzker Center letter of support - once the Slutzker Center advisor has reviewed your letter, she/he will write a letter of support, which you should include with your reinstatement application. 
    • Official transcript in a sealed envelope and a letter from your department or academic advisor to verify that you are in good academic standing.
    • Financial documentation (such as a bank statement) that demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States,

    Where to File

    USCIS can change filing locations depending on case load.  Therefore, confirm the filing address on the Form I-539 Instructions.  We recommend that you make a copy of your reinstatement application for your records.  If you move after filing for reinstatement, you will need to change your address on line at www.uscis.gov USCIS mail will NOT be forwarded to your new address.

    What Happens Next

    • You will receive a receipt notice with a case number assigned. This case number can be used to check the status of the application on the USCIS web site.
    • If your application is denied, there is no appeal. You should depart the U.S. immediately. The F-1 visa in your possession will be invalidated even though it remains valid on its face. You must apply for a new F-1 visa in order to return to the US in the future as an F-1 student.
    • If your application is approved, USCIS will send you Form I-797A. I-797A is your reinstatement approval notice. You may also receive either your original I-94 card back if you mailed in your original or you may receive a new I-94 card located at the bottom of Form I-797A.
    • Please call the Slutzker Center at 315-443-2457 to schedule a meeting with an international student advisor after you receive the above mentioned documents. Provide copies of your current, updated financial support documents.  If you require an extension of your I-20, then provide a complete I-20 Extension application.