How to Regain Legal F-1 Visa Status

If you fall out-of-status while attending the Phoenix College, you must immediately make an appointment with an International Student Advisor to begin your immigration reinstatement process. You may apply to regain your F-1 status while remaining in the USA, or you may travel to do so.  You may apply for reinstatement to your F-1 status in the following ways:

Applying for Reinstatement while Remaining in the USA

Student’s must provide these items to the DSO:

  • Form I-539 must be filled out:
  • Check or Money Order for US $410, made out to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Copy of ALL previous I-20s, if any, and copy of current I-20
  • Current PC class registration receipt-copy for semester
  • Original PC transcript
  • Copy of passport (biographical page with picture and your Visa page)
  • Original I-94
  • A bank statement proving balance of US $20,350.  Bank statement must be no more than 6 months old
  • An affidavit of support, if you are not self-sponsored (if someone else is paying for your education).  Your sponsor must provide an affidavit along with the bank statement
  • A personal letter explaining your violation and why you think you should be reinstated

You will only be considered for reinstatement with USCIS as an F-I student if your letter can establish that:

  • The violation of status was due solely to circumstances beyond your control or that failure to reinstate you would result in extreme hardship
  • You are pursuing or will pursue a full course of study (12 credits minimum)
  • You have not been employed without authorization
  • You are not in removal proceedings

--You must keep copies of all documents.

Final Considerations:

  • A decision to reinstate an individual to F-1 student status is at the discretion of the USCIS.
  • Processing times at USCIS vary greatly. Expect to wait 2-4 months before receiving a response.
  • You are NOT eligible for any F-1 student benefits, such as practical training employment authorization or working on campus, unless the USCIS reinstates you to F-1 student status.
  • Travel outside the US while a reinstatement application is pending may be considered an abandonment of the application. If you need to leave the US while your application is pending, you must meet with an International Advisor prior to travel.
  • If the application is approved, USCIS will endorse the new I-20 form and return it to the mailing address listed on the I-539 form. IEP will contact you if we receive any updates on your behalf. Please also contact ISS when you receive information from USCIS. NOTE:(F-2 dependent status is automatically reinstated with the reinstatement of the F-1 student.)
  • If the application is denied, you will begin to accrue days of unlawful presence in the US (accrual of more than 180 days of unlawful presence could subject a person to a 3-year or 10-year bar from re-entering the US.). Students who are denied reinstatement have the option to file and appeal with the USCIS.We strongly encourage these students to hire a competent immigration attorney.

Send your application, certified mail, return receipt to the address on the instruction form.

Applying for Reinstatement through travel:

If you DO NOT need a new Visa - Travel home with the following documents:

  • Your new initial I-20 that you received from an International Advisor
  • Receipt from your paid SEVIS fee of $350:
  • All of your original I-20s, all three pages
  • Current PC class registration receipt
  • An official PC transcript
  • Your passport


If your Visa is not yet expired, you will go through your reinstatement when you re-enter the USA upon your return, at the border.

If you DO need a new Visa - Make an appointment at the US Embassy in your home country, and bring the following documents with you to your appointment:

  • Your new initial I-20 that you received from an International Advisor
  • Receipt from your paid SEVIS fee of $350:
  • All of your original I-20s, all three pages
  • Current PC class registration receipt
  • An official PC transcript
  • Your passport
  • Your financial documents: a bank statement proving a balance of at least $20,350 and an affidavit of financial support, if you have a sponsor.

Upon Your Return to the USA 

Come in to the International Education Program office and see an International Advisor IMMEDIATELY upon your return to campus. We must change your SEVIS record to ACTIVE after your reinstatement.

  • A formal reinstatement request may be submitted to the USCIS requesting that the deviation from full-time status be approved. A student who has dropped below 12 units without permission will be terminated in the SEVIS system. In order to reinstate the SEVIS record to "active" status, an application for reinstatement must be made. The student should meet with the Immigration Specialist to discuss the reinstatement procedures. In most cases, a student who is in good academic standing and has maintained a full-time status in previous semesters will be able to obtain the reinstatement. Once reinstated, the student will be eligible for benefits such as practical training and off-campus work permit.
    Note: Students who have been reinstated may find that the USCIS may cancel their F-1 visa stamp without prejudice. If the visa has been canceled, students traveling outside of the United States will need to obtain a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the U.S.
  • An F-1 status student may travel outside of the United States with a new I-20 marked “initial attendance.” Upon re-entering the U.S., the student should present the I-20 to the Immigration Officer at the Port-of-Entry. The Immigration Officer will stamp the new I-20. The student is considered reinstated as of the date of the stamp. The student will need to re-establish the 9-month eligibility for off-campus work permit or practical training benefits. A copy of the new I-20 and I-94 should be presented to the International Education Program office to be placed in the student file.  Students who need a new F-1 visa may have difficulty obtaining a renewal of the F-1 visa.
  • If you fall out-of-status during the semester, we recommend you see an Advisor immediately to discuss your status. Phoenix College offers some late start classes during a semester. You may be able to take a late start class and regain your full-time status.