F-1 Reinstatement Facts

Why would I need F-1 reinstatement?

Examples of how a student may fail to maintain status that would require reinstatement: 

  • Failure to complete the I-20 transfer procedure when transferring institutions.
  • Failure to apply for an extension of program before I-20 expiration
  • Failure to complete a full course of study during a given semester
  • Failure to properly follow university withdrawal policies


How to gain reinstatement:

Students who fail to maintain F-1 student status have two options as to how to regain their legal immigration status; application through USCIS/DHS or travel. 


Option 1: Apply to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

A non-immigrant alien who has failed to maintain status may apply for reinstatement to lawful status at the discretion of DHS, but only under limited conditions specified in immigration regulations.

An application for reinstatement may be considered if the following can be proved:

  • You have not been out of status for more than five (5) months
  • You do not have a record of repeat violations
  • You are pursuing a full course of study
  • You are not (or have not been) engaged in unauthorized employment
  • You are not deportable on any grounds other than the status violation
  • The status violation was beyond your control, or failure to timely submit a Program Extension


PENDING REINSTATEMENT – You are not in legal F-1 status until your application for reinstatement is approved, therefore:

School Attendance: An applicant for reinstatement to F-1 status must maintain full-time academic enrollment while the application is pending.
Employment Benefits: No F-1 employment benefits (CPT) are available until the reinstatement is approved.



Students are responsible for the following:

Be prepared to have the following documents to provide:

  • New, original F-1 I-20 issued for reinstatement – This comes from a University of the Cumberlands P/DSO
  • Check or money order, payable to Department of Homeland Security (https://www.uscis.gov/forms)
  • I-94 card
  • Personal letter explaining your situation and requesting reinstatement (must be original with signature)
  • Suggestions for Personal Letter: This letter should establish convincingly why you are out of status by specifically stating the violation, and the reason(s) you are in violation.  State how failure to receive reinstatement approval will affect you; state that you are currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study and specifically request that the Department of Homeland Security reinstate you to student status.  Be sure to state that you have not violated any other immigration regulations and have not been employed without proper authorization; and finally reaffirm your intention that you intend to return to your home country when your F1 status is completed. Be sure to provide a strong letter with facts to support your requests.
  • Completed Form I-539:
    • (on Part 2, Application Type, be sure to select #3 – “Reinstatement to Student Status”;
    • Part 3. Processing Information: check-mark the box at 1.b.)
  • SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt (only required if you have been “out of status” more than 5 months): www.fmjfee.com                    
  • photocopy of passport statistics page
  • photocopy of visa
  • proof of financial support (original or photocopy)
  • copy of academic transcripts (this can be an unofficial copy)
  • All previously issued I-20’s (photocopies)  

The word "
REINSTATEMENT" should be written at the top of the I-539 form to further distinguish it from other uses of Form I-539.

HOW TO PROCESS THE REINSTATEMENT – Once your application is complete you will mail the reinstatement application yourself to one of the addresses below.  It is recommended that you send your packet “certified mail; return receipt requested”.  This allows you to track your application during the mail process and ensures proof that you sent your application and that it was received.  It is important that the Reinstatement application packet be assembled in order as shown above in the “How To Apply” section and sent to: 

“Regular” mail:  

PO BOX 660166
DALLAS, TX 75266


Certified Mail or Overnight Mail:



You will receive a Notice of Action from the Service Center, this lets you know that the Service Center has received your application; it does not mean that your application has been approved. Read this notice carefully. If at any time the Service Center requests further information, gather what is asked for submission; pay strict attention to given deadlines.

Please know that, the reinstatement process can take several months to be acted upon.  You must be attending school full-time and stay in compliance with all F-1 student regulations.  Failure to do so can result in the denial of your application.  When you receive your final adjudication Notice of Action, provide your notice to the International Student Services department so that your immigration records can be adjusted accordingly and a copy made for your student file.


Option 2: TRAVEL

As an alternative to applying for reinstatement while in the U.S., you may opt to travel and re-enter the U.S. using a new “initial attendance” I-20.

Please contact the P/DSO to notify which option you choose to pursue to regain F-1 student status or to discuss these option further.