I-20 Reinstatement Process
When coming to the United States to study, you must comply with the terms of your F-1 student visa. Not following the terms of your visa can result in the termination of your I-20 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. If your I-20 is suddenly terminated, it can leave you confused about your options, but we can help answer any questions you have about what to do next.
A few of the reasons that students fall out of status are failing to maintain full-time enrollment in their school, not completing the I-20 transfer procedure on time when transferring schools, being absent from the country for more than five months, or not applying for an extension of program before their I-20 expires.
Termination of your I-20 for failing to maintain your status will not allow you a grace period. You and any dependents you have will either need to leave the United States immediately or apply for reinstatement.To be eligible for reinstatement, you must:
- Not be out of status for more than five months when applying or show the exceptional circumstance that prevented filing in that time frame
- Not have a record of repeated or willful violations of regulations
- Not have worked with authorization
- Be pursuing or intend to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future at your school
- Not be deportable for any reason other than failing to maintain F-1 status
- Circumstances beyond your control caused the status violation.
- You fell below a full course load for a reason the DSO could have used to authorize a reduced course load, and you would experience extreme hardship if you failed to get your reinstatement approved.
Now that you know if you are eligible or not, you can continue with the reinstatement process. First, your DSO will need to recommend you for reinstatement. He/she will issue you a new I-20 Form. Second, sign the I-20 Form.
Third, complete the I-539 Form, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and mail it to USCIS. The I-539 Form will have a list of required documents that you will need to include to submit your request. Along with the documents, you will need to pay a filing fee. If you have been out of status for more than five months, you will also have to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee again.
Then, USCIS will either accept or reject your application. They will mail you their decision or request additional information from you. After USCIS has made its decision, SEVIS will automatically email the decision to the DSO who requested the reinstatement.
When you apply for reinstatement, you are in a “pending status.” You are not considered an F-1 student until your application is approved by USCIS. However, while in pending status, you must maintain full-time enrollment in your language school.
If your application is approved, SEVIS will change your status back to Active, and you will need to enroll in the program indicated on your I-20 Form. If your application is denied, you will have to follow the instructions on the notice and SEVIS will close the reinstatement request.