Description of Reinstatement

After a status violation, students in F-1 visa status have two options to regain status (referred to as reinstatement): 

  • Option 1: Apply for reinstatement with USCIS (with a reinstatement I-20 and supporting documents), or 
  • Option 2: Depart the United States to regain F-1 status with a new admission to the U.S. in F-1 visa status (with a new initial I-20). 

To find out if you are eligible to apply for reinstatement (option 1), you will first need to meet with an International Student Advisor (ISA) in ISSS. Go here to schedule an appointment. This page will describe the details for Option 1 above. If you select Option 2, the ISA will provide you with more information on the process.

In order to be eligible for reinstatement a student must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • You should not have been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing a reinstatement application with USCIS (unless you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances and you are filing as promptly as possible);
  • You do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations;
  • You are currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future;
  • You have not engaged in any unauthorized employment;
  • You are not deportable on any grounds. 


Below is the process outlined in more detail:

  1. Meet with an International Student Advisor (ISA) in ISSS to see if you are eligible to apply for reinstatement with USCIS.
  2. If an ISA agrees that you are eligible to apply they will email you the link to the Reinstatement I-20 Request e-form, for you to complete. In this request, you will need to upload the following:
    1. A letter explaining your circumstances regarding your violation and outlining why you are eligible for reinstatement. The letter needs to establish to the satisfaction of USCIS by showing that:
      1. The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g. injury, illness) OR
      2. The violation related to an unauthorized reduction in course load that would have been in an ISA’s power to authorize and failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student. 
    2. Declaration of Finance form. 
    3. Current financial documents that show funding for the expenses outlined on the International Financial Documents.
  3. Once received by ISSS, the processing time is 7-10 business days. ISSS will contact you directly if they have further questions when reviewing your requeest. USCIS is accepting digitally signed I-20's from ISSS, so we will email you the I-20 with the reinstatement recommendation. You will need this specific I-20 to file your reinstatement application with USCIS.
  4. Complete the form I-539. As of April 2021, USCIS offers two different ways to file an I-539 application
    1. Mail application and supporting documents to USCIS, OR 
    2. Online filing of I-539. (Please note that you cannot file online if you have a dependent spouse or child.)

      **You must choose one option. You cannot choose both options. ISSS recommends that you file online. If you choose to mail your application, then refer to USCIS I-539 filing locations for the mailing address for the OPT application. 
  5. Once you have the I-20 requesting reinstatement from ISSS, you will need to gather the following documents and apply for reinstatement with USCIS directly: 
    1. Filing Fee (Subject to change).
      1. Only if you are mailing your application, you will need to get a personal check, cashier’s check (drawn from a U.S. bank account) or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (do not abbreviate).
      2. Form I-539
        1. Online Application: You will be asked the same questions as on the pdf I-539.
        2. Mailing Application: You will need to complete all 7 pages of the application, then print, review and sign the form, using a blue or black pen. We recommend filing Form G-1145 if mailing your application.
      3. Copy of most recent I-94 Record of Arrival.
      4. Updated I-20 with the reinstatement recommendation that has been signed and dated by student.
        1. You will need to print the I-20, then sign and date page 1 in the appropriate space. 
          1. If mailing your application, then submit a copy of this I-20. Keep the original for yourself.
      5. Proof of ability to pay.
        1. Documentation that demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself, and any accompanying dependent family members, while you are in the United States.
      6. Evidence for reinstatement:
        1. Upload an image or copy of any documentation that shows that your violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control or that your violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within a Designated Schools Official's (DSO's) power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship for you.

          **If you have been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing your request for reinstatement, you must also provide evidence that your failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed your request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances.
  6. Additional evidence for reinstatement.
    1. Upload SJSU transcript as well as proof of enrollment for the current semester.
  7. Approximately 2-4 weeks after USCIS receives your application, you should receive a receipt notice with a USCIS case number.
  8. Reinstatement applications can take up to 5-9 months, sometimes longer for USCIS to process. If you receive a ‘Request for Evidence’ from USCIS, please email the RFE to 

Application Receipt and Online Status Check

Text and Email Receipts

Only if you mailed your application and submitted the Form G-1145 you will receive a receipt number by text message or email; such electronic notifications are considered unofficial communication.

Applications Filed Online or Mailed

The USCIS Service Center will send you an official paper receipt in the mail. It may take up to 4 weeks to receive a filing receipt (Form I-797C).

Online Status Check

The status of your application can be reviewed with USCIS Case Status Online here. You will need to locate your file or case number on your filing receipt. Enter your receipt number without the hyphens. There will not be any change until USCIS has taken action on your case. 

Reinstatement Case Decision

If your application for reinstatement is approved, USCIS will send you an approval notice (Form I-797A Notice of Action), in the mail. Please email the official approval notice to We will then email you an updated I-20 for “Continued Attendance” and update your SEVIS record accordingly.

If your reinstatement request is denied you will be given a date of voluntary departure by which to leave the United States (usually within 30 days of notification). You may not appeal the decision. Please email the denial notice to and we will advise you about next steps. 

Contact Us

San José State University

One Washington Square
Student Union - CPGE
San Jose, CA 95192-0135

Office Hours

Monday-Friday 9am – 4:30pm

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