Failed to Maintain Status for Almost 5 years, F-1 Reinstated!
November 16, 2023

Table of ContenTS

The Law Offices of Sabrina Li takes pride in successfully assisting our clients. Today, we would like to share the story of one such individual who benefited from our legal expertise.

Our client approached us with a distressing revelation: he had unknowingly been living out of status for years. His journey began in January 2017 when he entered the United States on a valid F-1 visa to attend high school, still a minor. During his F-1 status, his life took an optimistic turn as his mother married a lawful permanent resident. However, deception loomed. His stepfather, under the pretense of securing them, claimed he had initiated the process for green cards for both our client and his mother. In reality, the stepfather had only filed an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, which, unbeknownst to them, did not maintain our client's valid status.

Misled into believing they were on a pathway to permanent residency; our client didn't renew his I-20 with his school post-2018. Consequently, he attended two subsequent schools without acquiring a new I-20. It was only after he entered university that an advisor shed light on the precariousness of his status, informing him that he had inadvertently lapsed his legal status long ago. To make matters worse, through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, we discovered that the stepfather's I-130 petition had been denied back in November 2019. Our client had been kept in the dark, awaiting a green light that was never coming.

Our client's case was quite complicated. He had been out of status for almost four years and had attended multiple academic institutions without the necessary I-20. To make matters worse, his stepfather had suddenly disappeared, making it even harder for him to find a straightforward path to permanent residency. Our client was well aware of these intricacies and the urgency of stopping the accrual of unlawful presence, which is why he sought our help.

Grasping the gravity of the situation, our dedicated team promptly filed a petition to reinstate his F-1 status. We compellingly argued that the lapse wasn't due to our client's negligence but resulted from the misinformation given by his stepfather. We further highlighted that our client, being a minor at the time of these events, had no direct control over his immigration status.

The reinstatement application journey began in January 2022 and came to a fruitful conclusion in May 2023. Our client was overjoyed to reclaim his F-1 status, bringing an end to a nearly five-year period of uncertainty and out of status.

To Qualify for Reinstatement, a Student Must Prove the Following:

A. The student:

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement.
  • If they've exceeded the 5-month period, they must demonstrate that the delay was due to exceptional circumstances and that the reinstatement request was filed as promptly as possible under those circumstances.

B. The student does not have a record of:

  • Repeated or willful violations of Service regulations.

C. The student:

  • Is either currently pursuing or intends to pursue a full course of study in the immediate future at the school that issued the Form I-20.

D. The student has:

  • Not engaged in unauthorized employment.

E. The student:

  • Is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act.

F. The student can establish, to the satisfaction of USCIS, by a detailed showing:

  1. The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control, such as:
  • Serious injury or illness.
  • Closure of the institution.
  • A natural disaster.
  • Inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO.

However, this does not include instances where there was a pattern of repeated violations or a willful failure by the student resulting in the need for reinstatement.

  1. The violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load. This reduction should have been something a DSO could authorize, and not approving reinstatement would cause the student extreme hardship.

If you or someone you know faces a similar situation and requires the expertise of skilled professionals, look no further than the Law Offices of Sabrina Li. Call us today at (213) 375-8096 or email us at We are committed to providing the assistance you need, so please don't hesitate to reach out. We're here for you.

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