F-1 Reinstatement Procedures
As an F-1 student, you are expected to comply with certain basic rules and regulations. Your ability to study, work, and travel in and out of the United States depends on your compliance with these rules. Failure to comply - whether intentional or not - will lead to your falling "out of status," which terminates your eligibility for benefits such as employment or travel re-certification. If you fall out of status, you must seek reinstatement in order to return to lawful F-1 status.
Causes for Reinstatement
Reinstatement becomes necessary when you have violated of F-1 immigration regulations and have “fallen out of status.” Some of the most common reasons that an F-1 student may fall out of status are as follows:
- by not studying on a full-time basis (undergraduates must maintain a minimum of 12 credits per semester and graduates must maintain a minimum of 9 credits) or by failing to obtain ISS approval for part-time enrollment
- by not making normal, full-time progress toward degree completion
- by failing to apply for a program extension before the expiration of your I-20
- if transferring from another institution or degree program, by failing to obtain or activate your I-20 within a timely manner
Reinstatement is not possible if you engage in unauthorized employment, or if the violation of status took place more than five (5) months old.
Reinstatement is possible only if you meet the following criteria.
- You are pursuing or intend to pursue a full course of study at Lehigh University (you are ineligible to gain reinstatement if you have completed your program requirements).
- You have sufficient financial resources to register for a full course of study
- You can document that you fell out of status due to circumstances beyond your control, or that your failure to be reinstated would result in extreme personal hardship.
- You can document that the violation took place less than 5 months ago from the date of your reinstatement application.
Reinstatement Application Procedures
Reinstatement to F-1 status is a two-step process: (A) consult with an ISS advisor and obtain a new I-20 for reinstatement; and (B) submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Note that USCIS approval is not guaranteed. You may not engage in any on-campus or off-campus employment while a reinstatement application is being processed by the USCIS. Processing time may take up to 6 months.
(A) Meet with an ISS advisor to obtain an I-20 for reinstatement.
Please provide the following documentation, including:
- a letter of explanation detailing the nature and reasons for your violation of F-1 regulations
- updated financial documentation verifying your continued ability to finance your education at Lehigh i.e. original bank statement, assistantship from the university
- supporting letters from your academic advisor, department chair and/or dean of college.
If found eligible to pursue reinstatement, the ISS will produce a new I-20 issued for this purpose. You may then submit an application for reinstatement to the USCIS District Office.
(B) Submit the following to the USCIS District Office
your original I-94 card (retain a photocopy for your own records)
- a completed Form I-539
- a check or money order made payable to the "USCIS" in the amount of $300.00
- copies of your passport and visa
- your new Lehigh I-20, issued for reinstatement and signed by you at the bottom of pages 1 & 3
- copies of your financial documents
- your letter of explanation requesting reinstatement to F-1 status
Once the USCIS receives your application, they will review your materials and determine your eligibility for reinstatement. If reinstated, they will return your I-94 card and new I-20 to you. If your application is denied, please consult an ISS advisor immediately.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you have been denied reinstatement, the Overstay Provision and/or the Unlawful Presence provision of I/RAIRA will take affect. Please check with the ISS on how these two provisions will affect your stay in the U.S. and affect your travel home.