Reinstatement Approved: Returning to F1 Status After Over a Year
August 30, 2023

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The Law Offices of Sabrina Li has been successful in assisting another client. We would like to share their case with you.

Our client came to our office after his I-20 was terminated. He had returned to his country of origin to renew his F-1 visa; however, he was unable to secure a visa appointment because the Embassy and Consulates had suspended visa services. He was stuck outside of the United States for five months, disrupting his school program. When he was finally able to return to the United States, the school advised him to apply for a retroactive leave of absence and allowed him to continue with classes. Regrettably, due to a series of miscommunications, the client was informed a year later that his SEVIS record still remained terminated from his time abroad. As a result, he promptly consulted with several immigration attorneys.  In the end, he decided to choose the Law Offices of Sabrina Li’s service.

The challenge, in this case, was that our client's SEVIS had been terminated for over a year. In general, the law requires an applicant not to be out of status for more than 5 months prior to filing the reinstatement request. Leaving and re-entering the U.S. might have been possible, but it would have interrupted his studies, particularly as he was on the verge of graduation. Additionally, CBP might have denied his entry due to a violation of their nonimmigrant status. His failure to maintain status would cause him to be ineligible to change status or adjust status in the United States if he were to find an employer to sponsor him in the future. Last but not least, the client continued working his on-campus job while out of status, even though he should not have done so.

Luckily, our knowledgeable team was experienced in these matters. We immediately filed an application to reinstate our client’s status inside the United States. We showed that our client at all times attempted to abide by immigration laws and followed the instructions of his Designated School Official (DSO) and could not reasonably have uncovered the status termination at an earlier date.

Our efforts paid off, and our client's reinstatement request was granted within 4 months, restoring his valid F-1 status. Our client is thrilled, as this timely reinstatement not only puts him back in F-1 status but also makes him eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

To qualify for reinstatement, an individual must:

  • Not be out of status for more than five months or show exceptional circumstances which prevented filing in that timeframe;
  • Establish the violation in status resulted from circumstances beyond their control or for technical reasons;
  • Not have repeated or willful violations;
  • Not have worked without authorization;
  • Not be deportable for any other reason.

If you or someone you know has encountered a similar issue and needs the assistance of qualified professionals, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are here to help!

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