International student advisors are required to report certain violations of status to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State by terminating a student's SEVIS record. A termination effectively ends your immigration status and your authorization to study in the Untied States. In some cases, you may eligible to submit a petition to USCIS for reinstatement to lawful F-1 or J-1 status.
Eligibility to Petition for Reinstatement
To be eligible for reinstatement, you must show that the violation of status was due to circumstances beyond your control. In cases of unauthorized employment and unauthorized drop below full-time enrollment, reinstatement petitions will generally be denied because they are usually due to willful actions on the student's part.
Reinstatement is most appropriate for "technical" violations, such as:
- Failure to report your arrival at the start of your program
- Failure to apply for an extension of stay before your current program end date
- Failure to maintain required health insurance coverage (J-1 exchange visitors)
Reinstatement petitions must be filed within five months of the termination of your SEVIS record. USCIS will not review reinstatement petitions submitted after the filing deadline has passed.
Please note that reinstatement is NOT an option if you have violated your status by working without the proper authorization.
Step 1 - Meet with an international student advisor to discuss your eligibility for reinstatement.
We strongly recommend meeting with an advisor as soon as possible after you become aware of the violation to discuss reinstatement and the petition process.
Step 2 - Gather required documentation and submit to ISSS for review before mailing to USCIS.
- Form I-539 - Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status
- Personal check or money order for $290, made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security [Note: As of December 23, 2016, the application fee will be $370.]
- Current financial documentation covering expenses for duration of your program
- Official transcripts from all schools you have attended in the United States
- Photocopy of your passport ID page, including any extension or renewal pages
- Photocopy of your most recent U.S. visa
- Printout of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (http://cbp.gov/i94)
In addition to the documentation above, you will need to write a letter to USCIS which covers the following points:
- Explanation of why you are out of status, specifying the violation.
- Explanation of why the violation occurred.
- Explanation of why you are requesting reinstatement, stating how not being reinstated will affect you.
- Statement confirming that you are pursuing or intending to pursue a full-course of study.
Step 3 -After reviewing documentation for obvious errors, ISSS will issue a new I-20 for reinstatement. All documents and new I-20 will be returned to you for mailing.
Step 4 - Mail I-539 and supporting documents to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox for processing.
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
USPS, express mail and courier deliveries:
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Status during Review of Petition
Reinstatement petitions may take several months to adjudicate. While the application is in process, you must continue to meet all enrollment and reporting requirements of your immigration status. You may not engage in on- or off-campus employment until the reinstatement request has been approved. We strongly recommend not traveling outside the United States while your petition is in process since USCIS may consider the application 'abandoned' and reject the request.
Status after Approval of Petition
If your petition is approved, USCIS will reinstated you to lawful immigration status and return your immigration documents to our office. Your SEVIS record will be returned to "active" status, and the termination will be removed from your immigration record. You may resume on-campus employment and authorized off-campus employment once the reinstatement approval notice and your I-94 Arrival/Departure card have been received from USCIS.