F1 Reinstatement

F-1 Reinstatement

Any F-1 student who fails to adhere to the terms and agreements pertaining to F-1 status is considered in violation of said F-1 status, a situation commonly referred to as being “out-of-status.” F-1 students who are determined by the Office of International Services & Programs (ISP) to be “out of status” will be reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and have their SEVIS Form I-20 terminated based on the violation that occurred.

If you have failed to maintain your F-1 status and wish to continue studying at Houston Community College (HCC), you must be reinstated to valid status. Once a student has been notified of a violation (or a student is found to be in violation during a review of their situation while reporting to ISP), the student may seek F-1 reinstatement. There are two ways students can be reinstated:

  • Leave the U.S. and re-enter using a new I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number;
  • Apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for reinstatement

 

Reinstatement options should be reviewed with a Designated School Official (DSO) during a Reinstatement Virtual Workshop. Students planning to transfer to another institution must apply for reinstatement through the new school using the I-20 received from that school.

How to Register for the Virtual Workshop

  1. Click on  Reinstatement Workshop Request. Go to "Click here to display sessions" button, click and choose a date.
  2. You will receive an email with a WebEx Registration link. Register for the virual workshop following the email instructions.
  3. Once you register, you will receive an email from webex confirming your registration. 15 minutes prior to event (not earlier), you will be able to join the workshop on-line to check the status of your audio/video settings.

Reinstatement Eligibility Requirements

Based on the following regulatory and internal provisions, ISP may consider an application for reinstatement based on the following:       

  • Student has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances); 214.2(f)(16)(i)(A).
  • Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations; 214.2(f)(16)(i)(B).
  • Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20; 214.2(f)(16)(i)(C)
  • Has not engaged in unauthorized employment; 214.2(f)(16)(i)(D)
  • Is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and214.2(f)(16)(i)(E)
  • Establishes to the satisfaction of the USCIS, by a detailed showing, either that 214.2(f)(16)(i)(F):

(i) The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement; or 214.2(f)(16)(i)(F)(1)
(ii) The violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student. 214.2(f)(16)(i)(F)(2)

  • Is academically eligible to begin/continue study at HCC
  • Has submitted no prior F-1 reinstatement applications through HCC. This includes travel and re-entering. 
  • Does not fall below full-time enrollment while reinstatement application is pending. Students who fail to do so will be terminated even if approved for F-1 status.

 

ISP will assist with a reinstatement application only if all of the above conditions are met. Reinstatement is granted only under the limited conditions specified in DHS regulations and at the discretion of USCIS.

Further information on reinstatement to F-1 status may be found on the DHS website at https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/FR/HTML/FR/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-79324/0-0-0-85465/0-0-0-87514/0-0-0-87971.html

 

Option 1: Travel Reinstatement

In this option, students will obtain a new SEVIS Form I-20 from the International Services & Programs (ISP), exit the U.S., and regain F-1 status through readmission to the U.S. Permission to re-enter and regain valid F-1 status will be determined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. Students can only process reinstatement through travel if they still have a valid F-1 visa that will be unexpired at the time of re-entry. 

Please note: If a student has less than one full academic year (fall + spring terms) remaining to graduate, processing a travel reinstatement will make them ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). If a student has one full academic year or more remaining until graduation, travel reinstatement will not affect their ability to apply for OPT in the future.

Step 1: Register for a Reinstatement Workshop

How to Schedule & Register via WebEx

  1. Click on  Reinstatement Workshop Request. Go to "Click here to display sessions" button, click and choose a date.
  2. You will receive an email with a WebEx Registration link. Register for the virual workshop following the email instructions.
  3. Once you register, you will receive an email from webex confirming your registration. 15 minutes prior to event (not earlier), you will be able to join the workshop on-line to check the status of your audio/video settings.

 

 

 

Step 2: Prepare Documents and Attend the Virtual Reinstatement Workshop

 Prepare the documents listed on the Travel Reinstatement Checklist. We will review and provide guidance you about these document during the workshop.

  1. Travel Reinstatement Commitment Letter
  2. SEVIS Form I-20 Application
  3. Financial Documentation
  4. Copy of current passport
  5. Copy of valid F-1 visa
  6. $75 Application Fee (save the receipt as a PDF)

How to pay the fee:

Online payments (preferred): You can pay the fee online using a credit card or funds transfer from your local bank. For online payments, refer to the International Payment Tutorial (Flywire) for instructions.

 

Step 3: Upload Documents to your Checklist

 

  1. Log in to your account on the HCC Student System
  2. In Student Homepage, click on Checklists
  3. Click on the F-1 Student Checklist to upload the required documents

Send an email to your assigned DSO  to inform about submission of all documents.

Tutorial - F1 Students Checklist_Prepare and Upload Documents

 

Step 4: Receive your new SEVIS Form I-20

After reviewing and approving your documents, your assigned DSO will email your electronically signed SEVIS Form I-20 for travel reinstatement.

 

Step 5: Pay the $350 SEVIS I-901 Fee

This fee is paid online at www.fmjfee.com. You must submit proof of payment to your DSO within 5 days after receiving your new I-20.

 

 

Step 6: Submit Confirmation of Departure/Return Itinerary

Once a Designated School Official (DSO) has reviewed your documents and verified that you are eligible for a travel reinstatement, you must submit confirmation of your departure/return itinerary proving your travel outside U.S. and your return within 30 days of the program start date.

It is recommended that you return to your home country when attempting to gain reinstatement by travel. If you travel to Canada, Mexico or another county, verify with their Consulate if you need to apply for a visitor visa before travel. 

 

Step 7: Exit the U.S.

It is recommended that you return to your home country when attempting to gain reinstatement by travel. If you travel to Canada, Mexico or another county, verify with their Consulate if you need to apply for a visitor visa before travel

 

Step 8: Re-enter the U.S.

You can re-enter the U.S. up to (but no earlier than) 30 days before the Program Start Date listed on your new I-20.

 

Step 9: Check-in with ISP immediately upon your return

Send an email to your DSO with attached receipts of payment of the $50 Orientation fee, SEVIS I-901 fee and copies of your new I-94, passport, F-1 visa and most recent I-20 (and the same documents for any F-2 dependents).

 

Step 10: Enroll in Full-time Studies

Enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours for fall and spring terms, or a minimum of 9 credit hours for summer.

 

Step 11: Attend next available International Student Orientation

Information for the next available F-1 International Student Orientation can be found here: www.hccs.edu/district/students/international/orientation

 

 

Option 2: Reinstatement by Application (from within U.S.)

In this option, students will file for reinstatement to valid F-1 status through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Eligibility for reinstatement will be determined by USCIS. While a reinstatement application is pending, the student must maintain full-time studies and should not leave the U.S. The reinstatement process can take 4-5 months or more. While awaiting the USCIS decision, students are not eligible to transfer to another school or to receive any benefits such as on-campus employment, renewal of driver’s license or authorization for reduced course load, or be issued a good-standing letter.

Step 1: Attend a Reinstatement Workshop

How to Schedule & Register via WebEx

  1. Click on  Reinstatement Workshop Request. Go to "Click here to display sessions" button, click and choose a date.
  2. You will receive an email with a WebEx Registration link. Register for the virual workshop following the email instructions.
  3. Once you register, you will receive an email from webex confirming your registration. 15 minutes prior to event (not earlier), you will be able to join the workshop on-line to check the status of your audio/video settings.

 

 

 

Step 2: Required Documents for Reinstatement by Application

Reinstatement by Application Checklist

        The following  topics should be addressed in the personal statement along with all relevant information that addresses the reinstatement eligibility requirements: 

    • Explain the reason for the status violation (include evidence and dates, if applicable)
    • It is strongly recommended to include the following information: provide a chronological and detailed explanation (include dates) of the events that led up to your failure to maintain status; what date did you realize that you are no longer in F-1 status and when you contacted the International Students office to resolve the issue; include reason(s) why you may consider the violation beyond your control; include a statement of how or why a denial of the reinstatement would cause extreme personal hardship to you.
    • Include a statement about currently pursuing or intending to pursue a full course of study. Include your career and educational plan and goals.
    • Include a statement attesting that you have not been engaged in any unauthorized employment.
  • Financial Documents
  • Official transcripts from all U.S. colleges/universities attended since securing F-1 status. This includes your HCC official transcript showing full-time enrollment for the earliest available term. The transcript must be obtained at an HCC campus. OISS cannot provide this for you. (*Obtain HCC transcripts after enrolling full-time for the next available semester.)
  • Printout of I-94*  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home > click on Get most recent I-94 or provide copy of I-797A Notice of Action for change of status to F-1
  • Copy of passport* ( valid at least 6 months from the filing date, or include a receipt for extension or renewal) 
  • Copy of visa*
  • Copies of all previous SEVIS Form I-20s* 
  • $75 Application fee (pay online to HCC and save the receipt in PDF format)
  • $50 Orientation fee (pay online to HCC and save the receipt in PDF format)

*Provide document for each F-2 dependent/co-applicant, if any.

Tutorial: How to Add Signature to PDF Document

The item(s) below should be included in your mailing package listed on Step. 6:

  • $455 Money order or personal check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security with " $370 I-539 application and $85 biometric fees" noted in the memo line. 
    • Important Update for Reinstatement requests: Every co-applicant (F-2) included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A. Parents may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign. Every applicant (F-1) and co-applicant (F-2) must pay an $85 biometric services fee.  Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539. USCIS will reject any revised Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A. For latest filing fees instructions, go to https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-fees

 

 

Step 3: Upload Documents to your Checklist

The Reinstatement checklist will be assigned 2 business days after the workshop.

  1. Log in to your account on the HCC Student System
  2. In Student Homepage, click on Checklists
  3. Click on the F-1 Student Checklist to upload the required documents

Send an email to your assigned DSO  to inform about submission of all documents.

Tutorial - F1 Students Checklist_Prepare and Upload Documents

 

 

Step 4: Clear your Holds (if any) and Enroll in Full-time Studies for the First Available Semester

Enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours for fall and spring terms, or a minimum of 9 credit hours for summer.

If you have "Suspension", "Probation", "Business", "Dean" or other holds that prevent you from enrollment, you have to clear these holds before the DSO can authorize you for reinstatement.

 

 

Step 5: Receive your SEVIS Form I-20 and DSO letter

After your DSO verifies that you have enrolled in full-time studies and your documents meet the USCIS and ISP requirements, he/she will email your electronically:

1. Signed SEVIS Form I-20

2. DSO letter ( please compare with your Personal letter)

 

 

Step 6. File you Application Packet by Mail or Online

 

File OnlineFile by Mail

You may apply online if you are applying:

As a single F-1 applicant without

F-2 dependents; and 

You will not require legal or accredited representation 

 

You may apply by mail if you are applying:

As a single F-1 applicant; or

As an applicant with F-2 dependents; and/or

You require legal or accredited representation 

Navigation for Online Application

Go to

click on FILE ONLINE

Create an account: https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ 

To download paper I-539 application/primary applicant, go to https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-539.pdf

Sample Form I-539 for Reinstatement to Student Status 

To download I-539A dependent/co-applicant application, go 

to https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-539a-pc.pdf  

Online Instructions

Complete Electronic Form  I-539

Upload Evidence:

  • Copy of passport (at least 6 months from the filing date, or include a receipt for extension or renewal)
  • Copy of Visa
  • Copy of Form I-94 https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home > click on Get most recent I-94 or your I-797A
  • Academic transcripts
  • Previous I-20(s)
  • Form I-20 with Reinstatement recommendation signed by DSO and student
  • Pay filing fee of  $370 +$85 at the end of the application
  • When you have paid the fee, your form will be submitted 

NEVER submit the form without the Form I-20 with Reinstatement recommendation!

Mailing Instructions

Click on the Reinstatement by Application Mailing List  for instruction on documents that need be included in your application packet and mailing address(es).

 

Assemble all documents according to the Reinstatement Mailing Checklist. Use paper clips; do not use staples to attach documents together.

 

 

Payment: USCIS requires each applicant and co-applicant (dependent) to pay an additional $85 biometrics fee, and attend an appointment that will be scheduled at a USCIS Applicant Support Center (ACS) where biometrics such as fingerprints will be collected. Form I-539A is to be used for multiple individuals such as family members.

 

For latest filing fees instructions, go to https://www.uscis.gov/forms/filing-fees

After Applying Online

You will use your USCIS online account to:

Receive your biometrics appointment notice;

Receive status updates about your case;

Respond to any correspondence in which we ask you to submit evidence; and

Update your contact information if it changes.

 

 

Step 7: Submit a Copy of the USCIS Receipt to your DSO

After you have filed your application with USCIS, you will receive a Form I-797 Notice of Action (receipt) in the mail. You must email a copy of this receipt to your assigned DSO .

 

Step 8: Attend Next Available F-1 International Student Orientation

Information for the next available F-1 International Student Orientation can be found here: www.hccs.edu/district/students/international/orientation

 

Step 9: Maintain Full-time Studies until your Application for Reinstatement is Approved

Even if your reinstatement application is approved, you will fall out of status again if you fail to maintain full-time enrollment in any semester after filing for reinstatement.