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Reinstatement of an F-1

If you have failed to maintain status, you may request that the Department of Homeland Security/USCIS “reinstate” your F-1 status. You must prove the following:
  • You have not been out of status for more than five months. If the violation occurred more than five months ago, you would need to prove that there were exceptional circumstances that prevented you from filing prior to five months. After five months, you may also be required to pay an additional $200 SEVIS fee (not listed in template letter).
  • You do not have a record of repeat violations.
  • You are or will be pursuing a full course of study for the next available term. You must be able to register full-time; therefore, there should not be circumstances that would prevent you from registering such as academic suspension/probation, business office holds, etc.
  • You have not engaged in unauthorized employment.
  • You can document sufficient financial resources to pursue a full-time course load.
  • You are not deportable on any grounds other than the F-1 status violation.
  • The F-1 status violation resulted from circumstances beyond your control.
Your reasons must be documented to explain how your F-1 status violation resulted from circumstances beyond your control.  The letter below is only a “template” to help you write up your individual circumstances.  You may also wish to include any reason that failure to maintain status would cause some extreme hardship to you.   Note the areas in [brackets and italicized] must be tailored to fit your current situation.  You must include a SEVIS I-20 produced by the MSU Office of International Student Services; therefore, please make an appointment with the Director Pam Jaisingh or the Specialist Denice Copher to apply for reinstatement.  J-1 students have a similar process but must apply to the Department of State for the reinstatement process.


The application for reinstatement is made by you directly to USCIS. The OISS does not have a role in approving your application. Only USCIS can reinstate your status. However, OISS advisers are available to review your application before you submit it if you wish. Your reinstatement application must include the following documents:

  • A request for reinstatement, written by you, explaining why you fell out of status and why the circumstances were beyond your control
  • A new, original, I-20 created for you by the ISSS for the purposes of reinstatement which you have signed and dated. You must send the original I-20 for reinstatement applications
  • A completed Form 1-539 and checking Part 2. #2. C. “Reinstatement to student status” and Part 3. 1. Writing in “D/S” for the “Duration of Status” with the end date as listed on #5 on your I-20.
  • Financial document showing sufficient resources to support your study while in the U.S.
  • Copies of your passport, visa, and I-94 card
  • Copies of all I-20s previously issued to you
  • Unofficial transcript to confirm enrollment
  • A bank check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $370.

If you have dependents in the US, you must also include them in the application since a violation of your F-1 status affects your dependent family members as well.

A sample template is available for you to customize for your circumstances. Please indicate clearly “I-539: Reinstatement form” on the outside of the envelope. Address information is found on the website.

For U.S. Postal service (USPS) Deliveries:                                                                                  
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
ATTN: I-539
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

You will receive a notice from USCIS within two to three weeks indicating they have received your application. USCIS usually takes about two to four months to make a decision. 
If your request for reinstatement is approved, the USCIS officer will stamp your I-20 to indicate that you have been reinstated and return it by mail. Once the reinstatement is approved, you are once again eligible for the benefits of F-1 status including on-campus work/employment. Please bring your approval to OISS to update your SEVIS records.  If the application is denied, you will be notified and required to leave the US.

Special Considerations

Processing times for reinstatement applications vary; however, it may take as long as 4-6 months for the application to be adjudicated. Although you may continue to study while the application is pending (in fact, you are required to register full-time during this period), you will not be eligible for any type of employment until the reinstatement is approved. 

Alternative to Reinstatement

You also have the option of traveling to regain status instead of applying for reinstatement. When you travel to regain status, you are issued a new I-20 for “initial attendance” with a new SEVIS ID number. You then leave the US and re-enter using the new I-20, and (potentially) a new visa and SEVIS I-901 Fee ($200). When you enter the US and receive an I-94 marked “F-1 D/S”, you will once again be in valid F-1 status. However, if you choose to travel to regain status, you will forfeit any time you have accrued toward practical training eligibility. You will need to be registered for one academic year in order to qualify for practical training.

Download a copy of this information.