Reinstatement is a process that allows students who’ve lost their F-1 status through no fault of their own. Circumstances that can lead to loss of status without fault include severe illness or injury, natural disasters, closure of your school, and other exceptional circumstances beyond your control. When you request reinstatement, you must meet the established criteria:
The following information addresses frequently asked questions regarding the reinstatement process.
No. We reserve the right to decide whether to sponsor a student for reinstatement. Reinstatement is intended for individuals who have lost status unexpectedly through no circumstances beyond their control. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which processes reinstatement applications, specifically lists such examples as “serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO.” Immigration regulations do not require a school to sponsor a student for reinstatement, and that decision is left up to the discretion of the Designated School Officials.
Some examples of when ISS is unlikely to sponsor you for reinstatement include if you let your I-20 expire, failed to enroll but stayed in the U.S., did not read email alerts, or follow ISS staff instructions, or did not leave the U.S. after being given a deadline following an academic (or another form of) dismissal. We will assess each situation individually to determine whether we will agree to sponsor you for reinstatement.
We will also consider how much time passes if you receive an alert from us about being out of status until you submit a reinstatement request.
As of 2018, the U.S. government takes a more restrictive view of students who fall out of status and apply what is referred to as “unlawful presence.” This can result in U.S. authorities not granting entry visas for as few as three (3) years, as many as ten (10) years, or in some cases even permanently, following the unlawful presence. Therefore, it is more important than ever that you take steps to protect your legal status and not lose it in the first place. You can learn more about unlawful presence from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
As most circumstances are within a student’s control, it can be challenging to prove your loss of status was “beyond your control.” Below are some common reasons students lose F-1 status:
We are unable to predict the outcome of the reinstatement process. To be eligible:
As a student, you are responsible for maintaining your F-1 status. The USCIS will not grant reinstatement if you’ve demonstrated repeated or willful violations of F-1 regulations leading to your loss of F-1 status.
Yes. During the reinstatement process, you must stop working in your on-campus position. Additionally, all other work authorizations, such as CPT, are automatically terminated.
No, though you can leave the U.S. upon losing status and re-enter with a new I-20 instead of applying for reinstatement. Doing so requires UMFK to issue you a new I-20 and establish a new SEVIS record with a new SEVIS ID. You will need to pay the SEVIS fee to establish this new record, and you’ll also need to apply for a new visa due to the newly issued I-20 and SEVIS number.
Please note that this approach does not guarantee F-1 status being granted. You won’t be automatically allowed to re-enter the United States. Further, the termination of your prior SEVIS record may show up in government databases leading to questioning during future travel, renewing your visa, or trying to re-enter the United States at ports of entry.
If you opt for this process over reinstatement, you must maintain F-1 status for one academic year before being eligible for benefits such as Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training. You may also not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. until thirty (30) days before starting classes.
In addition to refusing to sponsor a student’s reinstatement, UMFK may opt not to issue a new I-20 immediately in cases of a student remaining in the U.S. after the end of their legal status. We may ask you to provide evidence of having been out of the country for the time they should have been gone. For example, if a student has not attended UMFK for one year and hasn’t attended another school during that year, they must not have remained in the United States during that period. If a student wishes to re-enroll but is found to have remained in the United States in violation of F-1 regulations, we may require the student to leave the country for one year before we are willing to issue a new I-20.
Yes, you’d be eligible for F-1 benefits if you remained compliant for at least one academic year before losing F-1 status. But you cannot apply for these programs until reinstatement is approved.
Please provide the following documentation:
The SEVIS fee, charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that individuals visiting the country with F-1 status must pay to cover expenses involved in administrating and maintaining the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). As of March 30, 2023, the fee assessed is $370 (excluding the $85 per person biometric fee charged for yourself and any dependents).
You will only need to pay the SEVIS fee again if you’ve been out of status for more than five (5) months, in which case, you must pay the fee and provide proof of payment with your reinstatement application.
Note: if your reinstatement is denied, the SEVIS fee is not refundable.
A DSO must mail your reinstatement application to the USCIS for you. Once you’ve prepared all the required documentation (other than the new I-20), you’ll meet with a DSO to get your new I-20 recommending your reinstatement. Once the new I-20 is created, we will submit your application packet to the USCIS. The USCIS must receive your new I-20 and application packet within thirty (30) days of submitting the reinstatement request in SEVIS.
The biometric services fee covers the costs of collecting fingerprints and other biometric data. As of March 30, 2023, the fee assessed is $85 per person for yourself and any dependents. When the USCIS receives your reinstatement application, you will be contacted to set up an appointment to travel to a USCIS Application Support Center to collect the necessary biometric information.
It can take several months for the USCIS to process reinstatement applications.
No, you should not travel outside the United States until your reinstatement is approved.
The USCIS will return your I-20 to us, indicating whether reinstatement was approved. Your I-94 (and those of your dependents, if applicable) will also be returned showing a reinstatement approval stamp. You will be notified by a DSO when we receive these documents.
If your application for reinstatement is denied, you’ll receive an explanation for the denial. While our staff may be able to answer questions about your denial, USCIS denials cannot be appealed. In the case of a denial, you should contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your options or make plans to leave the United States as soon as possible.