When do I need to file an application for reinstatement to F-1 status?
You need to file for reinstatement if you violated the USCIS regulations with regard to maintaining your F-1 status. Violations include, but are not limited to the following situations:
Do I need to meet with an ISSS adviser to apply for reinstatement?
Yes. You should come to ISSS to meet with an advisor during walk-in advising hours. Please also login to your iHawk account (click the blue login button) using your HawkID and password. Go to "F-1 student Services" and complete the e-form "Reinstatement Request."
How likely is it that I will be granted reinstatement to F-1 status?
It is impossible for the ISSS to predict what may happen. The regulations are significantly more restrictive and unforgiving. To be eligible:
Do I need to stop working if I am currently employed as a teaching assistant or hold an on-campus job, while my application is pending?
No. You may continue working on campus while waiting for a decision on your reinstatement application, if you were already employed before you fell out of status. If you were not employed before you were out of status, you should wait until your reinstatement is approved before beginning employment. Please be advised that you are not eligible to apply for a social security number unless your SEVIS record is active.
Is it possible to be reinstated to F-1 status simply by re-entering the U.S.?
No. However, you do have the option to depart the U.S. and re-enter with a new, initial I-20 rather than applying for reinstatement. In order to do this, the ISSS must issue you a new, initial I-20 with a new SEVIS record and SEVIS ID. You will have to pay the SEVIS fee again for that record. You may also need to apply for a new visa, particularly if you have been out of status more than five months. You should discuss this option in depth with an ISSS advisor before making any plans to travel.
Please be aware that there are risks in doing this. You will not automatically be allowed to re-enter the U.S. The port of entry officer will be evaluating your admissibility. Additionally, your previous SEVIS record’s termination may show up in government databases and could cause you to be questioned during future travel such as when you are applying to renew a visa or are trying to re-enter the U.S.
If you choose this option, you will not eligible for certain F-1 benefits such as Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training until you have been back in status for at least one academic year. You also may not reenter the U.S. more than 30 days prior to your new program start date.
Will I be eligible for F-1 benefits such as Curricular and/or Optional Practical Training after my reinstatement application is approved?
Yes. You will be eligible for F-1 benefits as long as you had maintained your F-1 status for at least one academic year before falling out of status. But you cannot apply for CPT  or OPT  until the reinstatement is approved.
What documentation do I need to submit?
What is the SEVIS fee, and do I have to pay it?
The SEVIS fee is the charge, effective September 1, 2004, assessed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, whereby all F-1 visitors to the U.S. must pay a fee of $200 to supplement federal government expenses involved in the maintenance and administration of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
If you are applying for reinstatement and you have been out of statue for MORE THAN 5 MONTHS, you will be required to pay the SEVIS fee before you can mail in your reinstatement application. There are two ways to pay this fee:
To Pay Online (highly recommended to pay this way instead of by mail)
To Pay By Mail (this method is not recommended as it could delay your application by weeks)
Remember, your reinstatement application cannot be mailed until the SEVIS fee is paid and you have a receipt proving payment. Should your reinstatement application be denied, the SEVIS fee is not refundable.
What is the fee that I need to enclose with my application?
The fee is $290. Payment must be in the form of a money order, cashier's check, or personal check issued in the exact amount and payable to "Department of Homeland Security." If you choose to send a personal check, please be sure that your address and phone number are accurately noted on the check.
Where should I mail my application?
The ISSS must mail your reinstatement application for you via overnight express mail. Once ALL of the above documentation, except the new SEVIS I-20, is ready, you will then meet with an ISSS adviser to get your new I-20 recommending you for reinstatement. As soon as the new I-20 is created, we will immediately mail your documents via overnight mail to the USCIS. Your new I-20 and complete application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the reinstatement request being made in SEVIS.
How long does it take for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to process my application?
The USCIS can take several months to process reinstatement applications.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. while my reinstatement is pending?
No, until your reinstatement request is approved, you should not travel outside of the U.S.
How will I be notified that a decision has been made on my application?
USCIS will return your I-20 noting the approved reinstatement to F-1 status to the ISSS, along with your I-94 card (and that of any F-2 dependents) showing the reinstatement approval stamp. The ISSS will notify you when these documents arrive.
What if I am denied reinstatement to F-1 status?
If your application cannot be approved, you will receive an explanation for the denial. The ISSS may be able to answer questions about the denial, but the USCIS indicates denials may not be appealed. In that situation, you should consult with an immigration lawyer or make plans to depart the United States as soon as possible.