Resolving Status Problems

While you are in F-1 status, it is your responsibility to follow all federal F-1 visa regulations. Failure to do so will result in the termination of your F-1 status, which has serious and long-term consequences.

As an F-1 student, you are required to follow all federal F-1 visa regulations. Failure to follow federal regulations will result in the termination of your F-1 status. 

The most common reasons for F-1 status termination are:

  • Failure to enroll in a full load of classes every fall and spring semester
  • Failure to complete enough face-to-face courses for full-time status
  • Administratively withdrawn from classes, resulting in a drop below full-time
  • Unauthorized work off campus
  • Working too many hours on-campus
  • Not applying for an I-20 extension in a timely manner, or not meeting extension criteria
  • Failing to transfer to a new institution in a timely manner
  • Suspension
  • Otherwise failing to maintain F-1 status

If your visa status is terminated, you must leave the U.S. immediately or apply for reinstatement. You will not be eligible for any work, including on-campus employment, until you are back in valid F-1 status.

When requesting reinstatement, you must establish to the satisfaction of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you:

  • Have not been out of status more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement
  • Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of immigration regulations.
  • Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20. Your campus connection account must show your enrollment.
  • Have not engaged in unauthorized employment.
  • Are not deportable on any ground other than overstaying or failing to maintain status.

You must also establish that the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, a natural disaster, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement.

If USCIS approves the reinstatement request, the adjudicating officer will endorse your I-20 to indicate that you have been reinstated and will return the I-20 to you. If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request, you may not appeal the decision and need to prepare to leave the U.S. immediately.

Reinstatement Application Procedure

  1. Apply for a new I-20 and provide the international coordinator with new financial documents
  2. Be enrolled full-time at MSU and otherwise maintaining status.
  3. Prepare your reinstatement application following the list of documents below to mail to USCIS.
  • An original of the new Reinstatement I-20 signed by the international student coordinator. Do not send your application without the new I-20!
  • Form I-539. At the top of the form write in red ink in block letters: "REINSTATEMENT" to alert USCIS that the I-539 should be processed for reinstatement
  • Check or money order made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" covering $370 fee plus the Biometrics Fee based on updated USCIS guidance. Use the USCIS Fee Calculator to be sure you pay the correct amount. 
  • Photocopies of all previously-issued I-20s
  • Original I-94 (the white card stapled inside your passport) or I-94 printout obtained at
  • Evidence of source and amount of financial support
  • A letter requesting reinstatement to F-1 student status which explains your situation and truthfully states that failure to maintain status was due to any or all of the reasons listed above
  • Supporting documentation (for example, a letter of support from a faculty adviser familiar with the circumstances of your case)
  • Current transcript and transcripts from other U.S. schools previously attended, as proof of enrollment in a full course of study.
  • Photocopy of your unexpired passport page
  • Photocopy of your visa page
  • Copy of I-901 SEVIS fee receipt
  1. After submitting your application, USCIS may require you to attend a Biometrics Appointment at one of their offices.

Keep a copy of your entire application for your records. If you choose the paper application option, it is recommended that you send your application by certified mail, return receipt requested. Your application must be received by USCIS within five months of the termination date.


Travel and reentry is a good solution for Canadian students. Reentry also works well for international students who are able to their home country and reenter the U.S. on a new I-20 and visa.

Reentry to the U.S. on a new I-20 is viewed by Immigration as "initial attendance" in F-1 status. As such, you are bound by restrictions placed on new students, such as the academic year waiting period for eligibility for practical training (CPT or OPT). Note that students who violated status are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.

Follow the below steps to regain your F-1 status through reentry. Please be aware the applying for a new I-20 restarts your F-1 status, so you will need to wait a full academic year in the new F-1 status before you would be eligible to apply for CPT or OPT.

  1. Apply for readmission to MSU through the Registrar’s Office if needed.
  2. Apply for an I-20, including new financial documents. You can send the application, financial documents, and copy of your passport to the International Student Coordinator by email. Be sure to fill out every section of the I-20 application fully, otherwise your I-20 will be delayed while you obtain additional documentation and correct omissions. It is best to take care of this as soon as you are readmitted so that you will not have to pay to have your I-20 rushed by fed-ex. The I-20 creation process alone takes two weeks, and that does not include the time necessary to mail the I-20 to you. Once all of the above documents have been received, your new I-20 will be created and sent to the address on your I-20 application.
  3. Pay the SEVIS fee again once your I-20 arrives. 
  4. Apply for a new F-1 visa from within your home country (non-Canadians only). 
  5. Reenter the U.S. up to 30 days before the program start date on the I-20. Remember to bring everything with you when you cross the border including you a copy of your financial documents and your SEVIS fee receipt. The program start date must be August or January.
  6. Attend the F-1 Workshop on the Sunday before classes start in August or January.

What is the major difference between the two options?

Students who are reinstated continue in their previous F-1 status. Students who choose travel and reentry are considered initial status students. This is most important when considering eligibility for Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training. Students who reenter using a new I-20 will be required to complete one academic year before becoming eligible to apply for off-campus employment.

What are the costs associated with each option?

Reinstatement currently costs $455 and trip to a USCIS office. Travel and reentry costs $350 for F-1 students to pay the SEVIS fee plus any expenses incurred for travel and visa applications.

Which option is the least risky?

Each option has its risks. If your application for reinstatement is denied, you will be required to depart the U.S. immediately. If you are denied re-entry at the border, you may be required to return home immediately from the port of entry.

If your application for reinstatement is denied:

  • The visa that the you used to enter the United States is automatically canceled;
  • You are permanently limited to applying for nonimmigrant visas in the future only your country of citizenship or permanent residence;
  • You will begin accumulating days of "unlawful presence.” If you remain in the United States after the denial for over 180 days, you will be barred from returning to the United States for three years; if you remain after the denial for one year or more, you will be barred from returning the United States for ten years.

May I continue to study while my application for reinstatement is pending?

Yes, you must continue to study and meet full-time enrollment requirements in order to maintain your F-1 status.

May I continue to work on-campus while my application for reinstatement is pending?

No. Once it is determined that you have violated your student status, you must stop working immediately.

How long will the reinstatement process take?

Reinstatement applications can take a year or longer for USCIS to process. You may not work on or off campus, or travel outside the U.S. while your reinstatement application is pending.

Can I reenter from Canada or must I return to and reenter from my home country?

Reentry from Canada is an option for some students; however, you must already have a valid visa to enter Canada, if needed. You are responsible for obtaining a visa to enter Canada if necessary. Your U.S. visa for reentry into the U.S. must also be valid.