Reinstating Your F-1 Immigration Status
If you violate your F-1 status you will need to take steps to regain your valid F-1 status. There are two ways to regain F-1 status: by application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or by international travel.
You should schedule an appointment with an international student advisor to discuss which option will be best for you.
Important Points to Know
- Once you violate your F-1 status, you may continue to enroll in classes at UT, however, you no longer have a valid status within the United States.
- You may not work on campus until you regain your valid F-1 status.
- Once you have violated your F-1 status you may begin to accrue Unlawful Presence.
- USCIS Applications:
- If you apply for reinstatement by USCIS application, you will be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if you have been enrolled for at least two long semesters and you are reinstated back to F-1 status.
- Reinstatement applications can take 6 to 12 months or more plus mailing time to process. While the application is pending with USCIS, you may not leave the United States. If you depart the U.S., this will cancel your application with USCIS.
5. Reinstatement by travel:
- If you regain your F-1 status by travel, you will not be eligible for OPT or CPT until you have been in status for two long semesters.
- Your valid status resumes as soon as you reenter the United States, obtain a new I-94 record, and check-in with ISSS.
- You will always have a terminated record associated with you. Be sure to schedule ample time for you to go through customs upon each reentry to the United States and be prepared to explain the circumstances surrounding the termination of your F-1 record.
Obtain a New I-20
Whether you apply for a reinstatement by USCIS application or by international travel, you first need to obtain a new I-20 from International Student & Scholar Services. In order to obtain an I-20, schedule an appointment with an international student advisor and bring proof of funding for one year of expenses. You can find the most recent estimate of expenses on the Financial Information web page.
Eligibility for Reinstatement by USCIS Application
A reinstatement may be applied to a student who:
- Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing for reinstatement (or demonstrates that failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances).
- Can prove that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. Circumstances might include serious injury or illness but do not include instances of a pattern of repeated violations.
- Has failed to complete a change of degree program or transfer to UT’s I-20 within 15 days from the first class day of the new degree program or transfer.
USCIS Application Process
In order to apply for reinstatement, you must:
- Write a letter including the following:
- A brief history of your stay in the U.S. Explain and document any previous semesters in which you were registered for less than a full course load or any semesters in which you were not registered. Then discuss details of the circumstances which led you to be out of status.
- That you are currently enrolled as a full-time student or that you intend to pursue a full course of study (9 hours for graduate, 12 hours for undergraduate students) for the next long semester.
- That you have not been employed without authorization.
- That your failure to maintain your student status was due to circumstances beyond your control and/or that failure to receive reinstatement would result in extreme hardship.
- That you are not deportable on any other grounds (such as conviction of any crime).
2. Schedule an appointment with an international student advisor and bring the following:
- Form I-539. Complete this form before your appointment. Be sure you indicate Texas Global mailing address on the application. This will help ISSS monitor your application. C/O: International Advisor P.O. Box A Austin, TX 78713
- Letter and any other supporting documentation you might have
- Reinstatement I-20 issued by ISSS
- Proof of financial support
- Most recent entry visa
- Form I-94
- Transcripts of university studies in the U.S.
- $455.00 payable to Department of Homeland Security (check or money order)
3. Once ISSS reviews all of the application documents, we will help you compile them and prepare the package for submission. Mailing the application will be your responsibility, but ISSS will give you detailed instructions on how to do so.
Reinstatement by International Travel Process
- Once you obtain a new I-20, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee for the new I-20. For more information about the SEVIS fee please refer to the SEVIS Fee page.
- If you do not have a valid F-1 visa, you will be required to apply for one using your new I-20. It is also recommended that you check with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate office on whether your previous visa is still valid or not. We recommend that you make your visa application in your home country or country of residence. Please see our Visa information for more information on how to apply for a visa. Canadian Citizens: note that you are not required to have an F-1 visa in your passport.
- You may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days prior to the program start date listed in section 5 of the new I-20.
- At the port of entry present your new I-20 and valid F-1 visa to the inspection officer.
- A note about traveling to Canada or Mexico. Be sure that upon your return to the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection officer gives you a new I-94 entry record to indicate your new F-1 status. If you are not given a new I-94 record, you will be required to travel again to regain your status.
- After you return to the United States in F-1 status you must review and print your I-94 information. The I-94 record must indicate “F-1” and “D/S.” Schedule an advising appointment to meet with an international student advisor shortly after you return to the United States. You will need to bring all of your immigration documents with you so we can review them and activate your record.
Failure to meet with ISSS in a timely manner could lead to the termination of your F-1 record and cause you to again lose your valid immigration status.