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Reinstating your immigration status

It is your responsibility to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status in the United States. If you violate the terms of your immigration status, your SEVIS record will be terminated and your status will no longer be active. To continue your academic studies in the U.S. and have your status reinstated, you must either exit the U.S. and re-enter with new immigration documents or apply for reinstatement within the United States.

If you are a J-1 student, please contact your international student adviser to discuss the reinstatement process.

If you are an F-1 student, review the guidelines and procedures listed below.

Reinstating status by travel

You must discuss this procedure with your international student adviser before leaving the United States. Your adviser can discuss the risks and the actions you can take to minimize them. In general, the process for returning to active F-1 status by traveling is:

  1. Meet with an international student adviser to discuss your situation.
  2. Receive a new I-20 with a remark indicating that you are traveling for reinstatement.
    • You must provide financial documentation to verify you can afford to attend MU. Refer to the estimated expenses for more detailed information.
    • Your current I-20 will be terminated in the SEVIS system. You will be issued an initial I-20 for travel.
  3. Travel outside of the U.S., pay a new SEVIS fee, apply for a new visa and re-enter with the new I-20.
  4. Upon your return to MU, immediately meet with your international student adviser to check-in with the International Center and activate your new SEVIS record.

Reinstating status by application

Eligibility requirements

  • You have not been out of status for more than five months. If you have been out of status for more than five months, you must travel for reinstatement unless you can prove that there were extraordinary circumstances that prevented you from applying for reinstatement earlier.
  • The status violation must have been beyond your control.
  • You do not have a record of repeated violations.
  • You are pursuing a full course of study.
  • You have not worked illegally. You cannot apply for reinstatement if you have worked illegally, you must travel for reinstatement.
  • You are not deportable on any grounds other than those for which reinstatement is being requested.

Application process

  1. Meet with an international student adviser to discuss your situation. Bring these documents with you:
    • Letter explaining why you are out of status and specifically asking to be allowed back into F-1 status
    • Form I-539 (instructions)
      1. Write "reinstatement" clearly across the top of the I-539
      2. In part 1, write "D/S" in the "Expires on" field next to "Current nonimmigrant status"
      3. In part 2, choose "reinstatement to student status"
      4. In part 3, choose "duration of status, D/S"
    • Check for $370 payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    • Your original I-94
    • Copies of your current I-20, passport and visa (if you have dependents, provide copies of their documents as well)
    • Copy of the SEVIS receipt from your previous F-1 status
    • Recent financial documentation (refer to the estimated expenses for more detailed information)
    • Proof of enrollment in a full course of study
  2. During the meeting with your adviser, you will receive a new I-20 with a remark indicating that you are applying for reinstatement.
  3. Mail the completed application to USCIS at the following address:
    By U.S. Postal Service By express service (e.g., UPS, FedEx)
    USCIS
    P.O. Box 660166
    Dallas, TX 75266
    USCIS, Attn: I-539
    2501 S. State Highway 121
    Business Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067
  4. Approximately two weeks after mailing your application, you will receive a receipt with a receipt number. You may use that number to track the status of your case online. While your reinstatement application is pending, you are not eligible to work. If you decide to travel, you would need to apply for a new F-1 visa with a new I-20.
  5. After your application is approved, immediately meet with an international student adviser to have your documents copied for your file and your SEVIS record reactivated. If your application is denied, please meet with an adviser to discuss your options.