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Reinstating Immigration Status

In this Section

Reinstatement is for F-1/J-1 students who have failed to maintain their immigration status and therefore must apply to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to have their status ‘reinstated’ to lawful status. This approval is at the discretion of USCIS.

Students who lose F-1/J-1 status and who wish to apply to regain legal status have two choices:

Option 1 - You may file an application for Reinstatement within the U.S. –

  • J-1 students, please contact ISSS to discuss the reinstatement process
  • F-1 students, please review the guidelines & procedures below

Option 2 - Travel - exit the U.S. and ‘re-enter’ with new immigration documents

NOTE – if you choose the option of ‘New Entry’, it is necessary for you and any accompanying dependents to ‘check-in’ with ISSS upon your return. Once you have reentered the U.S. and gained lawful F-1 status – please bring your I-20(s), passports and I-94 numbers/stamps to the ISSO for registration processing.

Reinstatement Procedures


USCIS may reinstate a student to lawful F-1 status if the following criteria are proven to the satisfaction of USCIS: (8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(16)

  • You have not been out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing for reinstatement
  • You do not have a record of repeated violations
  • Your violation results from circumstances beyond the student’s control or if failure to receive a reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student;
  • You are pursuing or will pursue a full course of study at the school that issued the I-20 in the next semester or term;
  • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment
  • You are not otherwise deportable

Application process –

Step 1 - Meet with an International Adviser to review your eligibility for reinstatement

If eligible – prepare the following and schedule an appointment with ISSS;

    • Current Certification of Finances with all sources of financial documentation for you and any dependents
    • Copies of passport/visa – I-94 card or Electronic I-94 page – and – all issued I-20’s for you and any dependents
    • Student letter of explanation address ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and should include - 
      •  Reason(s) for falling out of status (breaking one or more F-1 regulations) and a request to be put back ‘in legal status’ to complete degree requirements. List your requirements remaining.
      • All applicable reasons you deserve a reinstatement. See list on page 1.
      • Indicate your expected graduation date (month/year) that was agreed upon between you and your academic advisor.
      • Indicate you have not worked illegally in the U.S.
      • An explanation for which you were enrolled and/or completed less than the minimum number of credits for full-time enrollment. If applicable.
      • A statement that you will follow F-1 regulations if reinstated.
      • IF doing a ‘new entry, a statement you will check-in with the ISSO after re-entering the U.S.
    • Completed form I-539 
    • Filing Fee - Personal check or money order for $290 made payable to ‘Department of Homeland Security’
      • Note - this fee will increase to $370 effective December 23, 2016
    • Department letter addressed ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – on letterhead – and signed by your academic advisor. The letter should explain the following:
      • The student is in good academic standing or if not in good academic standing – but will be allowed to continue in the program and will likely return to good academic standing and complete the academic program if reinstated by USCIS.
      • A good letter should also include a clear explanation of periods the student was not in good standing or had poor academic performance (i.e. academic probation; poor grades). USCIS is scrutinizing Reinstatements with greater thoroughness – therefore – please include appropriate supporting explanations (i.e. lacking prerequisites; documented illness). You may wish to explain the period of poor performance is does not reflect the students normal academic performance and continued success is expected until the expected date of graduation.
      • The specific program requirements remaining
      • The student’s expected date of graduation (month and year).
    • Transcripts
    • I-901 receipt – (SEVIS Fee)
    • Meet with ISSS to receive a new I-20 indicating ‘Reinstatement Requested’
    • Mail all applicable documents to USCIS
    • Approximately 2-weeks after mailing to USCIS you will receive your ‘receipt notice’ – use this number to track the progress of your application at
      • Note- while your application is pending you are not eligible to work
      • Meet with ISSS if your application is ‘approved’ to complete your ‘reinstatement check-in’

 Travel –

In some cases it may be necessary to exit and re-enter the U.S. to reinstate status. You are strongly encouraged to meet with an international adviser first to discuss your eligibility and any potential risks you may encounter.

 Application Procedure –

Step 1 - Meet with an international adviser to discuss your eligibility for reinstatement by travel

If eligible – prepare the following and schedule an appointment with ISSS;

    • Current Certification of Finances with all sources of financial documentation for you and any dependents
    • Your current SEVIS record will be ‘terminated’ and a new I-20 will be issued for travel
    • Pay the SEVIS fee for the new ‘initial I-20’
    • Apply for a new F-1 visa
    • Re-enter the U.S. with your new I-20 – visa stamp – SEVIS fee payment
    • Upon returning to CU – meet with ISSS to complete your ‘reinstatement check-in’.