Restoring Visa Status

If a student's immigration status has expired or has been terminated, it is necessary for the student to restore their status or leave the U.S.

Remaining in the U.S. without a valid immigration status can lead to serious immigration consequences.

Two options are available to attempt to restore F-1 or J-1 status. Either option will require a new immigration document from ISSS.

  • Option 1: Travel and reenter the U.S. on a new Initial Attendance I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSS
  • Option 2: Apply for Reinstatement of Status 
    • F-1 students will apply to USCIS for Reinstatement of Status using Form I-539 - See F-1 Reinstatement section below
    • J-1 students must contact ISSS for qualifications and instructions

Travel and Reenter using New Immigration Document

Students who need to restore status have the option to travel and reenter the U.S. using a new Initial Attendance I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSS.


  • Status restored upon reentry to U.S.


  • Eligibility requirements restart - must complete one academic year of full-time study (3 quarters/two semesters) on new SEVIS ID before applying for CPT or OPT
  • Must have unexpired visa stamp in passport
  • Possible additional scrutiny at Port of Entry including chance of being denied reentry
  • Travel expenses
  • Must pay I-901 SEVIS Fee for new SEVIS ID
  • Cannot reenter U.S. more than 30 days before Program Start date - see Earliest Admission Date in Program of Study section of new I-20

Process to obtain new I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSS

  1. Inform ISSS of decision to restore status by travel.
  2. Provide updated financial documents

After reentry into U.S.

  • Complete ISSS Portal Check-In request so that ISSS is aware of your return and can activate your new SEVIS record

F-1 Reinstatement

In most situations, with the exception of unauthorized employment, an F-1 student can apply to USCIS for Reinstatement using Form I-539.


  • Can remain in the U.S. while waiting for adjudication
  • Can study while awaiting USCIS decision
  • If approved, all benefits of F-1 status are restored.


  • USCIS processing time could take many months
  • Leaving U.S. cancels Reinstatement request
  • No guarantee that request will be approved
  • Cannot use any benefits of F-1 status such as on-campus employment, CPT, or OPT while waiting for decision

    To be eligible for reinstatement of F-1 status, you must show that the violation of status was due to circumstances beyond your control. USCIS does not allow students to apply for reinstatement if their loss of status was due to unauthorized employment.

    F-1 Reinstatement petitions typically must be filed within five months of the termination of your SEVIS record. USCIS may decided not review reinstatement petitions submitted after the filing deadline has passed. They will not refund any fees if the application is denied.



    Note that ISSS advisors are not immigration attorneys and cannot provide legal advice regarding your immigration status. It is highly recommended that a student not only speak with an international student advisor as soon as possible after loss of status, but also seek assistance from a qualified immigration attorney before filing any applications, such as I-539 Reinstatement, with USCIS.

    Step 1 - Meet with an international student advisor to discuss your eligibility for reinstatement.

    Step 2 - Obtain updated I-20 from ISSS recommending you for Reinstatement.

    Step 3 - Gather documentation [Based on USCIS online I-539 request as of January 2024 - Online filing only possible for F-1 students without dependents]

    • Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (
    • Form I-20 from ISSS which lists Form Issuance Reason as Reinstatement
    • Proof of ability to pay - Current financial documentation showing ability to cover academic and living expenses
    • Evidence for reinstatement - Documents explaining circumstances leading to violation of status 
    • Additional evidence that you believe will help USCIS adjudicate your request which could include some of the following:
    • If applying by mail, you must also including the following:

    Step 4 - Submit Form I-539 and all supporting documents to USCIS.

    • Students without F-2 dependents can use the online filing option.
    • Keep a copy of your entire application for your records.

    Step 5 - Wait for updates from USCIS

    • If you move while the application is pending, you must update your address with USCIS
    • It is recommended that you occasionally check the Case Status 


    DO NOT submit the application without the new Reinstatement I-20 from ISSS.


    USCIS processing times for F-1 reinstatement can take many months. While the application is in process, you must continue to meet all enrollment and reporting requirements of your F-1 status. You must not engage in any on- or off-campus employment until the reinstatement request has been approved and ISSS confirms the restoration of your status.

    We strongly recommend not traveling outside the United States while your petition is in process since USCIS may consider the application 'abandoned' and deny the request.


    If your petition is approved, USCIS will reinstate your F-1 status and your SEVIS record will be returned to "Active" status. 

    ISSS may or may not be informed by USCIS when they approve a Reinstatement petition. Therefore, email ISSS a copy of the Approval Notice once it has been received so that we can make sure your SEVIS record has been updated.