Reinstatement to F-1 Status

What is reinstatement?

When you are admitted to the United States in F-1 status, you are expected to comply with certain immigration regulations. If you fail to comply with these regulations, you will be considered “out of status” and will need to apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for “reinstatement.” `Only by seeking reinstatement can you regain certain benefits attached to F-1 status, such as the ability to work on-campus, to engage in practical training, or to receive certification for re-entry into the U.S. after travel abroad.

The following are considered violations of F-1 status that may necessitate reinstatement:

  • Failure to attend the school whose SEVIS I-20 you used to enter the United States
  • Failure to maintain full-time registration as required
  • Failure to apply for a Program Extension within the 30-day period before the completion date on your SEVIS I-20 , if you need more time to complete your current program
  • Failure to obtain a new SEVIS I-20 if you change your educational program or degree level and notify the INS within 15 days of beginning the new program or level.
  • Failure to obtain a new SEVIS I-20 and notify INS within 15 days of registering at Hostos Community College if you transfer to Hostos from another school or institution.

Who is eligible to be reinstated?

Reinstatement is possible if you:

  • Are pursuing a full-time course of study
  • Can document sufficient financial resources to pursue a full-time course of study
  • Can establish that the violation of F-1 status resulted from circumstances beyond your control or that failure to be reinstated would result in extreme hardship
  • Are not deportable from the United States on any grounds
  • Have not been out of status for more than 5 months at a time of filling the reinstatement

Note that certain kinds of violations cannot be remedied through reinstatement; instead they require that you depart the United States. Among these violations is working in the U.S. without appropriate, and prior, authorization from the International Student Advisor (DSO) or the USCIS. Unauthorized employment is considered a deportable offense that cannot be resolved through reinstatement.


In order to apply for reinstatement, you must first qualify for a SEVIS I-20 issued specifically for this purpose.   You should speak with the DSO to determine whether or not you are eligible for reinstatement.   If so, the DSO will issue a new SEVIS I-20 for reinstatement to allow you to submit an application to the USCIS.   Make sure that any accompanying dependents are included on the SEVIS I-20, since any status violation committed by you also affects any dependent family members.

Please note that the reinstatement application is made directly by you to the USCIS. The DSO does not have a role in endorsing or approving your application; only the USCIS can reinstate you to F-1 status.   However, if you would like DSO to examine your application, we will be happy to do so.

Your reinstatement application should include the following:

  • Your written requests to the USCIS for reinstatement, explaining the circumstances for being “out of status.”
  • Letter from academic Advisement indicating when you will complete your degree requirements
  • Official copy of your current transcript
  • A SEVIS I-20 for reinstatement, with financial documentation covering the tuition, fees, and living expenses for your program of study.
  • A completed USCIS form I-539.
  • A bank check or money order made payable to the USCIS in the amount of $455.00.
  • Photocopy of your passport identification page. Do not send your passport!
  • Photocopies of all previous SEVIS I-20(s).
  • An original I-94 card showing that you were admitted in F-1 status for “duration of status.

You are advised to photocopy all your application material for your own records before sending it to the USCIS.


US federal Immigration regulations require that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your  SEVIS I-20. If you will not graduate by that date, you must set up an appointment to see the DSO and apply for a program extension at least 30 days before the SEVIS I-20 expires.

There is no fee to apply for a program extension, and no "waiting period" to hear from the USCIS once the necessary paperwork is submitted. The International Student Advisor will approve all program extension requests allowable by federal regulations, and notify SEVIS of your new completion date.

In order to obtain a program extension, you must show that you have continually maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as a change of major, unexpected academic problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval. If your completion of studies date has expired or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, it will be necessary to file for reinstatement to F-1 status, for which the USCIS will charge a $455.00 fee.

The following items are needed to process a program extension application:

  • Request for an Extension of Program form
  • Proof of financial support

Once your program extension application is complete, the International Student Advisor will prepare a SEVIS I-20 showing your new completion date, and notify the USCIS of the change.

Be sure to keep this new SEVIS I-20 and all previous SEVIS I-20 forms you have been issued.

Program Extension FAQ’s

How much time do I have to complete my degree?
Although your I-94 card is marked "D/S" for the Duration of Status, your SEVIS I-20 is the document, which regulates the length of your degree program. Section 5 of the SEVIS I-20 states the completion date, which is the latest date by which you are expected to finish your degree.

How do I know if I need an extension?
If you anticipate completing your studies any later than the date on your SEVIS I-20, you must apply for an extension of your program.

When can I apply for an extension?
You must file for your extension at least 30 days before your SEVIS I-20 expires. An extension cannot be processed after the SEVIS I-20 expires.

What items do I need to bring to the DSO?

  1. Your SEVIS I-20, I-94 card, and valid passport
  2. Current financial documentation to cover the remaining time needed for study
  3. The Request for an Extension of Program completed by the academic advisor


What is the verification process?
The DSO will review your case. If you have been in F-1 status and have a legitimate academic need for an extension, you will be issued a new SEVIS I-20.

What if I have not been a full-time student, have not made satisfactory progress, or am filing for my extension after my SEVIS I-20 has expired?
An F-1 extension is a benefit for students in status with legitimate academic reasons for the additional time requested. If you have not been a full-time student, not made satisfactory progress, or otherwise violated the F-1 regulations, you will not be eligible for an extension. You will need to meet with the DSO who will review your situation and advise you of the options you have to re-gain F-1 status or otherwise complete your degree at Hostos Community College. It is important that you meet with DSO as soon as possible.

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