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    Staying Legal


    (Note:  All references to ISSS refer to the International Student & Scholar Services team in the Center for Global Education & Field Study.  Contact with questions.)


    • Keep passport valid
    • Always print/carry updated I-94
    • Request extension PRIOR to current I-20/DS-2019 program end date
    • Get a new I-20/DS-2019 for any change in major


    • Do NOT work off campus without prior authorization
    • Do NOT work on campus more than 20 hours per week while school is in session 


    • Have an ISSS advisor sign your I-20/DS-2019 before traveling outside the U.S. if you plan to return to continue your studies
    • Follow US-VISIT border entry and exit procedures


    • Remain a full-time student.  You must be enrolled for at least 3 blocks each semester unless granted PRIOR permission from an ISSS advisor to be less than full time
    • Get ISSS approval if taking classes at another school (including online courses) and if the classes are counting toward fulfilling your full-time enrollment requirements
    • Inform ISSS if planning to transfer to another school at same or different program level
    • Inform ISSS if you will not graduate in time.  Program extensions must be approved PRIOR to the end date listed on your I-20/DS-2019


    • Update your address.  If you move, even from one room to another, you must notify our office within 10 days
    • Depart the U.S. no more than 60 days after the end date listed on your I-20/30 days after the end date listed on your DS-2019) unless you are transferring schools or have been granted a program extension
    • ALWAYS read emails from ISSS


    If you have violated your F-1/J-1 student status, you have two options to regain your legal status:

    1. Reinstatement application to U.S. government or
    2. Travel outside the U.S. and re-enter with a new I-20/DS-2019

    What should you do first?

    1. Read the information below on Reinstatement and Travel options to familiarize yourself with the two options.
    2. Schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor to discuss and decide which option is best for you.

    Reinstatement vs Travel to Regain Legal Status

    Reinstatement is an option for an F-1 student who fails to maintain status and wishes to regain status without leaving the U.S.  These applications can take several months to process and you cannot work on campus while the application is pending.  If the application is approved, your current SEVIS record (I-20) is reinstated and you are immediately eligible for all F-1 benefits again for which you qualify.

    Reinstatement Eligibility

    The student:

    • cannot have been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing reinstatement (unless the student can demonstrate exceptional circumstances and he/she is filing as promptly as possible)
    • does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of USCIS regulations
    • is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future
    • has not engaged in unauthorized employment
    • is not deportable on any other grounds
    • establishes to the satisfaction of USCIS by a detailed explanation showing either that 
      • the violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's control (such as serious injury or illness, natural disaster, or a mistake made by the international student advisor) OR
      • the violation relates to a reduction in course load that would have been in the international student advisor's power to authorize, and failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student


    • Do not lose continuity of student status; if reinstated student status is restored
    • Can (should) remain in the US while reinstatement application is pending


    • If reinstatement is denied you must be prepared to depart the U.S. immediately
    • Also if denied, the visa you used to enter the U.S. is automatically cancelled; you are permanently limited to applying for nonimmigrant visas only in your home country

    Travel to Regain Status

    If you are not eligible or a poor candidate for reinstatement you do have an alternative method to regain student status.  By the travel and re-enter method, you are making an active choice to leave the U.S. and attempt to return.  Prior to leaving, you will need to obtain a new I-20 marked "Initial Attendance" from ISSS and use the new I-20 to re-enter the U.S.  After making a new entry you will, in effect, start your student status all over again.


    • May be a right choice if you had already made plans to travel (i.e. for vacation, to visit family, etc.).  The speed or convenience of the travel outweighs applying for a conventional reinstatement
    • No application or fee is required
    • Upon re-entry and check-in with ISSS, your student status is restored, allowing you to engage in on-campus employment


    • May not be the right choice if you would like to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).  With new entry you must be enrolled for one full academic year BEFORE being eligible to apply for CPT or OPT.  This particularly impacts you if you are close to completing your degree and plan to apply for OPT.