08 Jun F1 Reinstatement (I20 Reinstatement) process
International students must follow certain USCIS regulations to maintain F1 visa status. They are required to register for full course load and make academic progress towards graduation. Students not following these rules will be at risk of SEVIS termination and loss of F1 status. This blog walks you through the common reasons for SEVIS termination, rules surrounding F1 reinstatement and how to apply for F1 reinstatement.
Reasons for SEVIS Termination:
- Failing to register for full course load – International undergraduate students are required to register for 12 or more credit hours in a semester and graduate students are required to register for 9 or more credits to maintain full-time F1 student status. Your DSO may authorize for a reduced course load under certain circumstances. If you are having academic difficulties to enroll in full course load, you will be allowed a reduced course load of 6 credit hours(4.5 for graduate degree) in one semester during the degree period. If you are sick or injured, you are allowed a reduced course load(even as low as 0 credits) for 12 months during the degree period. You should provide doctor letter/certificate if you are requesting reduced course load for medical reasons. If you fail to register for full course load or reduced course load beyond what is permitted, your DSO may terminate your SEVIS record.
- Failing to make Academic progress – International undergraduate students should have at least 2 GPA and graduate students should have minimum 3 GPA to maintain F1 status. Students securing less than the required GPA will be given an academic warning the first time. Students on Academic warning will be placed on Academic probation if they don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement in the next semester. Students on Academic probation that continue to perform poorly may be subjected to Academic suspension or dismissal.
- Working without Employment Authorization – International students should apply for prior authorization with DSO before they can work on either Curricular practical training (CPT), Optional practical training (OPT). Working without prior authorization is considered a violation of F1 status and is subject to SEVIS termination.
- Student conduct – Plagiarizing is considered a serious offense by Universities and students may be subject to academic dismissal.
Generally, students are given a sufficient number of warnings by DSO or Academic advisor before they are dismissed. It is in the best interests of the student to heed the warnings and take corrective steps to avoid dismissal/suspension. If Academic performance is a concern, you should transfer to another school where you can thrive and perform better. Since time is of the essence when your SEVIS is in danger of termination, you should transfer to another SEVP school rather quickly. Skoolville.com can help you find the right university and program that meets your requirements and offers immediate admission (rolling admissions).
But in the fortunate situation where you are dismissed and SEVIS is terminated, you either have to leave the country immediately or apply for F1 visa reinstatement with USCIS. F1 reinstatement involves I20 reinstatement by the University and reinstatement of F1 status by USCIS. You can either request a new reinstatement I20 with the current university or apply to another university and get a new I20. Once you receive the I20 with reinstatement, you should apply for reinstatement with USCIS.You should file F1 reinstatement via the USCIS form I-539. F1 reinstatement should be filed within 5 months of I20 termination in SEVIS. It is possible to apply for reinstatement after 5 months under exceptional circumstances. If your SEVIS is terminated because of unauthorized employment, you are not eligible for F1 reinstatement. Reinstatement is also not allowed for students with a history of USCIS rule violations. You should have a proper reason for filing a reinstatement request. You should prove to USCIS that your SEVIS termination was caused either because of illness/injury or other unavoidable circumstances or because of a mistake on the DSO’s part. You can continue to take courses but are not eligible to work while the reinstatement petition is pending with USCIS. You should reach out to a competent immigration attorney to apply for reinstatement petition with USCIS. Documents required for filing F1 reinstatement via form I-539:
- Cover letter indicating the reasons for SEVIS termination. You should explain if your illness/injury or other emergencies or negligence of DSO contributed to SEVIS termination.
- Proofs supporting the facts stated in cover letter. You should provide any letters/certificates from doctors, any medical records, communication records with your DSO etc.
- Latest I-94
- Financial affidavit or bank statement with enough funds to cover tuition and expenses
- Proof of class registration for F1 status
If the reinstatement petition is denied, you should leave the country within 15 days because you are considered out of status from the SEVIS termination date. USCIS regulations stipulate that aliens who are out of status for more than 180 days and less than 1 year are barred from entering the US for 3 years and those who are out of status for more than 1 year are barred for 10 years.
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