A student who has failed to maintain status may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of USCIS, but only under the
Conditions and Limitations
1. The student has not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filling for reinstatement (unless he or she can shoe
that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented the student from filling during the 5-month period)
2. The student does not have a record of repeated violations
3. The student is pursuing, or will in the next available term be pursuing, a full course of study
4. The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment
5. The student is not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation for which reinstatement is being requested
6. The status violation result from either:
o Circumstances beyond the student’s control; or
o Failure to apply in a timely fashion for a reduced course load authorization from the DSO, but only if the violation
related to something that would have been within the DSO’s authority to have approved, if it had been timely
done, and that the student would experience extreme hardship if the application were not approved.
Step I. The student should first discuss his or her situation in detail with a DSO, who will assess the case; if the DSO recommends
that the student apply for reinstatement.
Step II. Download and complete Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Non-immigrant Status from the USCIS website.
Step III. Compile all of the necessary documents
- Original Form I-20, issued for reinstatement
- Original Form I-94
- A letter of explanation addressed to USCIS, stating the following; why he or she is out of status (specify the violation); the
effect on the student of failure to receive reinstatement; a statement that he or she is currently pursuing or is intending to
pursue a full course of study; and specifically request that USCIS reinstate him or her to F-1 student status;
- A letter from the DSO recommending reinstatement and providing corroboration of the situation, particularly when the
violation of status resulted from an error on the part of the DSO;
- A completed and signed Form I-539 (Application to Extend Status/Change Nonimmigrant Status), writing in at Part 2 item 1
the phrase “REINSTATMENT TO F-1 STATUS”; and
- A check to the order of “Department of Homeland Security” in the amount of the fee for Form I-539
Step IV. Send the application by an express mail carrier or U.S. registered mail “return-receipt requested” so that you have proof of
delivery. Within one month of sending the application to the USCIS, you should get a standard receipt notice stating that USCIS has
received the application. The case number in the top left corner of this receipt notice can be used to check on your case by calling
the USCIS or visiting their website at www.uscis.gov, but be aware that the system is not updated frequently. If you have a
particular problem or need to change the mailing address on your application, you should call the USCIS. Once the application has
been filed, you cannot leave the U.S. while the application is pending without cancelling the application.
Step V. The change of status will take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to be approved; unfortunately, there is no way to expedite the
process. When it has been approved, you will receive an approval notice in the mail.
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