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Reinstatement

F-1 visa students must comply with immigration regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations, will lead to the loss of legal status in the United States and consequently to the loss of the F-1/J-1 benefits of visa status, such as on-campus employment, travel signatures for re-entry to the United States, and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

F-1 Students

J-1 Students

 

F-1 Students


A student who has failed to maintain F-1 visa status and wishes to continue studying at UTSA must regain valid F-1 visa status. One way to regain F-1 visa status is to apply to USCIS for reinstatement. The alternative way is to leave the United States and reenter using a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number. Either option to regain status must be discussed with an ISS international student advisor.

Possible violations of F-1 visa status

  • Failure to maintain full-time registration
  • Unauthorized employment
  • Failure to report address change to International Student Services within 10 days of such address change
  • Failure to apply for a program extension before the program end date, if extension is required to complete the program of study
  • Failure to obtain a new I-20 when changing an educational program or degree level
  • Failure to request a transfer from UTSA within 60 days of graduation date or OPT end date

Please refer to Maintaining F-1 Status for more information.

* NOTE: Working in the United States without appropriate authorization from International Student Services and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is a serious violation that cannot be corrected through reinstatement. If you have violated your visa status due to unauthorized employment, you can only regain your status by departing the United States.

Eligibility

Under federal regulations an F-1 visa student is only eligible for reinstatement if all of the following conditions apply to the student:

  • Be academically eligible to continue study at UTSA
  • Be enrolled full time in the semester for which your reinstatement is filed
  • Meet the following conditions:
    • The violation resulted from either:
      • Circumstances beyond your control
      • Failure to apply in a timely fashion for a reduced course load authorization from International Student Services
    • The violation did not occur more than five months ago from the date of reinstatement application
    • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment

When to Apply

It is your best interest to file the petition for reinstatement immediately after the violation and within 5 months of termination. USCIS processing times are highly variable and approval of a reinstatement of F-1 status can take six months or more.

Procedures

Step 1. Meet with an International Student Services international student advisor to assess your eligibility for reinstatement.
Step 2. Submit the following documents to International Student Services:

  •  USCIS Form I-539
  • I-539 application fee or $290 payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • A letter requesting reinstatement to F-1 status and explaining the circumstances. The letter must include the following four points with as much detail as possible:
  •  A photocopy of your previous Form(s) I-20
  • New financial support documents to show evidence of continued funding (no more than 6 months old). Download the current CFR form.
  • Copy of the passport identity page with the expiration date
  • Copy of the F-1 visa stamp used to enter the U.S.
  • Copy of the I-94 card (front and back)
  • Official transcript

Step 3. Meet with an international student advisor to review final application for reinstatement. The international student advisor will issue a letter explaining reinstatement reasons and a new Form I-20 for the purposes of reinstatement. International Student Services will place a hold on your account to bring to International Student Services a copy of USCIS Receipt Notice and Notice of Decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Step 4. Mail the above 9 items plus the letter from International Student Services and the new Form I-20 to the following address:

U.S Postal Service Express mail and courier deliveries
USCIS
P.O. BOX 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
USCIS
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

International Student Services recommends students copy their application materials to keep as for their own records before sending the documents to USCIS.

Step 5.  In 2 to 4 weeks, you will receive Receipt Notice from USCIS with your application case number. You must bring the Receipt Notice to International Student Services.

Step 6.  After 4 to 6 months, you will receive Notice of Decision from USCIS. You must bring it to International Student Services.

Step 7.  If approved, you must request an updated I-20. If denied, you must depart the United States immediately.

If the request for reinstatement is approved, the USCIS officer will stamp the Form I-20 to indicate that the student has been reinstated and return the Form I-20 to the student. Once the reinstatement is approved, the student is once again eligible for the benefits of F-1 status. If the application is denied, you will be notified to leave the United States.

Special Considerations

Processing times for reinstatement applications vary. However, it may take up to 6 months for the application to be adjudicated. Although the student may continue studying while the application is pending, he or she will not be eligible for any type of employment until the reinstatement is approved and will not be able to travel.

If the student decides to choose the option of traveling back to the home country to regain F-1 visa status, he or she will receive a new I-20 for “Initial Attendance” with a new SEVIS number. This new I-20 will be used to re-enter the United States. If the student chooses to travel to regain status, he or she will forfeit the accrued time toward practical training eligibility. F-1 students will need to be registered for one academic year in order to qualify for practical training.

FAQs

Can I depart the United States while my reinstatement is pending? You cannot leave the U.S. while your reinstatement application is pending. Departing the U.S. while a reinstatement application is pending with the USCIS is considered an abandonment of the application.

Can I continue working on-campus? No, you cannot work on-campus or off-campus. Your eligibility for F-1 visa benefits is terminated when you become out of status.

What are the consequences of a reinstatement denial? I.N.A 222G (overstay and visa cancellation) and 212(a)(9)(B) (unlawful presence) are two penalty provisions that can be activated if your request for reinstatement is denied. Your reinstatement denial would have the following effects as of the date of your denial:

  • Your visa that you used to enter the United States would be automatically cancelled.
  • You would be permanently limited to applying for US nonimmigrant visas in the future only in your country of citizenship or permanent residency
  • You will begin accumulating days of ‘unlawful presence.’ If you remain in the U.S. after the denial for over 180 days, you will be barred from returning to the U.S. for three years; if you remain in the U.S. after the denial for one year or more, you will be barred from returning to the U.S. for ten years.
     

J-1 Students

A student who has failed to maintain J-1 visa status and wishes to continue studying at UTSA msut regain valid J-1 visa status.

J-1 students who have failed to maintain valid visa status for more than 120 but fewer than 270 days must show both inadvertence or circumstances beyond their control and unusual hardship if reinstatement was not granted.

Please refer to Maintaining J-1 Status to learn how to maintain valid J-1 visa status.

Violations for which reinstatement is not available

The U.S. Department of State will not consider requests for reinstatement if a J-1 student has

  • Knowingly or willfully failed to obtain or maintain the required health insurance at all time while in the U.S.
  • Engaged in unauthorized employment
  • Was suspended or terminated from the academic program
  • Failed to maintain program status for more than 270 days
  • Received a favorable recommendation from the U.S. Department of State for a waiver of section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • Failed to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

Procedures

Step 1. Meet with an International Student Services international student advisor to assess your eligibility for reinstatement.
Step 2. Submit the following documents to International Student Services:

  • A written statement and documentary information supporting your statement. Your statement should explain that the failure to maintain valid visa status was either due to circumstances beyond your control or that it would be an unusual hardship to you if the U.S. Department of State does not grant the reinstatement.
  • Copies of all prior DS-2019s issued to you
  • Financial support documentation
  • Evidence of SEVIS I-901 fee payment
  • $246 check or money order made payable to the Office of International Programs/ISS
  • A letter from your academic advisor stating how many semesters you need to complete your program. The letter must include an expected program completion date.

 Step 3. International Student Services submits your application in SEVIS immigration system to the U.S. Department of State.

 Step 4. The U.S. Department of State will notify International Student Services about reinstatement approval or denial. If your reinstatement is approved, you will be issued at new DS-2019. If your reinstatement is denied, you must leave the U.S. immediately.