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International Student and Scholar Services

Visa & Immigration


International student advisors are required to report certain violations of status to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and/or 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.

Petition Process

Please note that ISSS advisors are not immigration attorneys and cannot provide legal advice regarding your immigration status. Additionally, recent changes to government policy related to unlawful presence increase the complexity as well as the negative impact of being out of status.  Due to this, it is highly recommended that a student not only speak with an international student advisor as soon as possible after loss of status, but also seek assistance from a qualified immigration attorney ( before filing any applications, such as reinstatement, with USCIS.

Step 1 - Meet with an international student advisor to discuss your eligibility for reinstatement.

Step 2 - Gather required documentation and submit to ISSS for review before mailing to USCIS.

  • A bank check, money order or personal check payable to the  U.S. Department of Homeland Security  for $370 with "I-539" noted in the memo line.  You and each co-applicant must also pay an $85 biometric services fee.
    • NOTE  The required fee was scheduled to increase as of October 2, 2020 but this change has been suspended by a pending federal court case. More Details
  • 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 (
  • Proof of payment of SEVIS I-901 fee (
    • If you have been out of status for more than 5 months, you must repay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

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.

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:

ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
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.