Out of Status?

Some reasons why you may be out of status:

  • Failure to complete a full class load each term
  • Failure to complete a transfer with USCIS
  • Failure to inform USCIS of the need to change or extend the academic program
  • Failure to report a new address within 10 days of moving
  • Obtaining employment without authorization
  • See Maintaining Status for other possible reasons


Reinstatement is the process that USCIS has designed to allow F-1 students who have fallen out of status to be reinstated to legal status. In order to be reinstated, you must prove that falling out of status was entirely beyond your control. You must also prove that failure to receive reinstatement would cause extreme hardship. The circumstances leading to the falling out of status may include serious injury or illness, closure of an institution, a natural disaster, or oversight/neglect on the part of a school official (you will need a letter from the school official supporting your petition). You must not have been out of status more than five months to apply for reinstatement.

To apply for reinstatement:

  • Supply an updated bank statement or letter
  • Obtain a new Form I-20
  • Write a letter to the USCIS indicating the nature of your violation and how it has been corrected
  • Make a check payable to the USCIS in the amount of $370
  • Complete form I-539
  • Attach all previous I-20s and the I-94

Once you have obtained the new Form I-20, you should sign it, make a copy of it and the other items, then, send them all to the USCIS Service Center. If USCIS determines that the violation of the law was beyond your control and will cause extreme hardship, you may be reinstated to F-1 status. If reinstatement is denied, no appeals are allowed. However, if significant new evidence is discovered which affects the case, a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider may be submitted. Due to the complexities of this process and recent changes to agency policies, it is strongly recommended that students applying for reinstatement or filing a motion to reopen/reconsider a case work closely with an immigration attorney.