US Immigration Assistance

Top 10 reasons why students fall out of status and what to do

  1. Failure to Enroll Full-Time: F-1 students are generally required to be enrolled as full-time students. Falling below the minimum credit/course load without proper authorization can lead to a loss of status.
  2. Unauthorized Employment: Working off-campus without the required authorization or working more hours than allowed on-campus can result in status violations.
  3. Failure to Extend I-20: If a student’s program end date on their Form I-20 is approaching, and they haven’t extended their I-20 or applied for further benefits, they may fall out of status.
  4. Unauthorized Drop Below Full-Time: Dropping below full-time enrollment without obtaining a valid Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization can lead to status violations.
  5. Overstaying the Grace Period: After completing their program, F-1 students typically have a 60-day grace period to either depart the U.S., apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), transfer to another school, or take other appropriate actions. If they fail to do so within this period, they can lose their status.
  6. Failure to Transfer to Another School: If a student intends to transfer to a different SEVP-certified school and doesn’t complete the transfer process properly, they may fall out of status.
  7. Failure to Maintain Good Academic Standing: Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress and good grades. Academic probation or dismissal can lead to status violations.
  8. Failure to Report Changes: F-1 students are required to report changes in their address, academic program, or other relevant information to their Designated School Official (DSO) in a timely manner.
  9. Failure to Apply for Reinstatement: If a student falls out of status but doesn’t apply for reinstatement or takes too long to do so, they can remain out of status.
  10. Failure to Comply with Other Immigration Regulations: Non-compliance with other immigration regulations, such as failure to maintain health insurance coverage, can also lead to status violations.

If you have fallen out of F-1 status and need to reinstate your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) status, it’s important to take immediate action to address the situation. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Consult Your Designated School Official (DSO): The first and most crucial step is to contact your DSO at your school immediately. They are the experts on F-1 student status and can provide guidance specific to your situation. Explain your circumstances and express your desire to reinstate your status.
  2. Eligibility Assessment: Your DSO will assess whether you are eligible for reinstatement. Not all violations can be reinstated, and eligibility criteria may vary depending on your specific circumstances.
  3. Prepare Required Documents: If your DSO determines that you are eligible for reinstatement, they will guide you on what documents you need to prepare. Typically, you will need to submit a completed Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) with a detailed letter explaining the reasons for your status violation and your intent to reinstate. You may also need to provide financial documentation and a new Form I-20 with updated information.
  4. File Form I-539: Complete and submit Form I-539, along with all required supporting documents, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Make sure to include the appropriate filing fee.
    1. Also attach a detailed letter explaining the circumstances that led to your status violation, your intent to maintain F-1 status, and your request for reinstatement.
    2. Supporting documentation, such as evidence of the circumstances beyond your control, financial documentation, and a new Form I-20 with updated information.
    3. You should send copies of your application and supporting documents to your DSO as well.
  5. Biometrics Appointment: After submitting your application, USCIS may schedule a biometrics appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center.
  6. Interview (Possibly): USCIS may schedule an interview to discuss your reinstatement application further. Be prepared to answer questions about your situation.
  7. Wait for Decision: USCIS will review your application, conduct any necessary interviews, and make a decision. If approved, they will update your SEVIS record to reflect your reinstated status.
  8. Notify Your DSO: Once your reinstatement is approved, it’s essential to inform your DSO immediately. They will need to update your school records and issue a new Form I-20 if necessary.
  9. Comply with New Status: After reinstatement, you must strictly adhere to all F-1 visa regulations and maintain your status moving forward.

Please keep in mind that reinstatement is not guaranteed, and the process can be complex. It’s crucial to work closely with your DSO throughout the process and possibly consult with an immigration attorney to ensure your application is prepared correctly and that you have the best chance of success. Additionally, while your reinstatement application is pending, it’s advisable to avoid international travel as it could complicate the process.

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