An F-1 student who has violated their F-1 status may submit a Reinstatement of Status application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) through ELIS.
USCIS may choose to reinstate the student to lawful status if:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control or failure to receive reinstatement to F-1 status would result in extreme hardship to the student;
- The student is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study at the school which issued the I-20 form;
- The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment;
- The termination of status occurred less than five months ago;
- The student is not deportable on any grounds other than overstaying or failing to maintain status.
There are two ways to regain status: apply for reinstatement or depart the U.S. and seek a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 status.
OPTION 1: Reinstatement Application Procedure
STEP 1: Make an appointment with the PDSO located in the Center for International Education
STEP 2: You Need To Bring The Following Documents To the Center for International Education
- Write a detailed letter explaining the circumstances that led to the status violation. The letter must address the above points. Submit any documentation or evidence that may support your letter. The letter should be no more than one page in length.
- Provide documentation of your funding by submitting a bank statement showing sufficient funds to cover the cost of your education. If you are using a family member’s bank statement in support of your application, include a letter from the family member confirming their financial sponsorship. You may submit an updated copy of your graduate assistantship appointment letter, if applicable.
STEP 3: The Center for International Education will Issue The Following:
New I-20 indicating reinstatement.
- PDSO support letter for the purpose of the reinstatement application.
STEP 4: You Will Create an Account on USCIS ELIS: https://elis.uscis.dhs.gov/
Read and follow the instructions carefully when creating your user name and password.
Log off and prepare the following steps.
STEP 5: You Will Scan (and upload) the following documents:
- Student’s letter (Step 2. Point 1).
- Supporting letter from DSO.
- Other supporting documents in regards to your reinstatement.
- Bank statement/financial documents.
- Affidavit of support form.
- Government ID: passport, driver’s license.
- F-1 visa page (if applicable)
- I-94 front and back.
- *There may be other supporting documents that you should scan/upload depending on your case.
STEP 6: You Will Log back in to ELIS with your user name and password (pin may be required)
- Begin online application. (If you are unsure of the questions, read the tips given to you on the right)
- The application is divided in to various sections. Each section contains a number of sub-items that must be filled out entirely.
- Read each step carefully and answer truthfully.
- Have a credit or debit card ready in the end to pay the $290 application fee.
- Seek a lawyer if your case is complicated.
OPTION 2: Travel and Reentry
In some cases it may be advisable to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20, rather than applying for reinstatement. You may do this by obtaining a new I-20 from the school you are currently attending or wish to attend, then departing the U.S., applying for a new F-1 visa if the F-1 visa stamp in your passport has expired, and returning to the U.S.
Note that students who violated status are not eligible for automatic visa re-validation. A re-entry to the U.S. after a status violation is viewed by Immigration as "initial attendance" in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training.