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If you are an F-1 student, it is essential that you maintain valid F-1 status while you are inside the US. Without valid F-1 status, you are not eligible to stay in the US and cannot take advantage of F-1 benefits such as on-campus employment or practical training. Violations of F-1 rules can occur whether intentional or not. Common violations include:

  • Not enrolling full-time or obtaining International Center approval before dropping to part-time enrollment
  • Not requesting an I-20 extension before your I-20 expires, if you need more time to complete degree requirements
  • Taking too many on-line classes (in normal circumstances, only one on-line class can be counted toward full-time status)
  • Working without permission (unauthorized employment)

Regaining Valid F-1 Status: Travel or Reinstatement

If you lose valid F-1 status for any reason, but still need additional time to complete your program, you can regain F-1 status through two different ways.

Option #1: In most cases, the fastest way to return to valid F-1 status is by travel. Following this option, you would apply for a new initial attendance I-20 from the International Center. Once you have the new I-20, you would leave the US and then re-enter at a later date using the new I-20. You may need to apply for a new F-1 visa if your current visa is expired or will expired by the time you return to the US. Once you return to the US, you will be back in valid F-1 status.

Option #2: However, in certain situations it may not be possible or ideal for you to travel outside of the US. In this case, you might be able to apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service for reinstatement to F-1 status. See the tab below for a comparison of reinstatement versus travel as different options for regaining F-1 status.

For both options, you are eligible to regain F-1 status ONLY if you are permitted to continue studying and still have additional degree requirements to finish. Neither option is possible if you have finished your program requirements or you are no longer permitted to continue in your program.

F-1 Reinstatement Process