Your 3 Options for Student Status Reinstatement [Video]

Three Options To Get Your Student Status Reinstated

Categories: Resources
Published: February 23, 2024

Tags: F-1 | I-539 | Video

Your 3 Options To Reinstate Your Student Status Video Summary

If you are currently in a situation where your student status has been terminated or you are assisting someone in this situation, this information is for you. Here, immigration attorney Joseph Tsang reviews the three options you have for student status reinstatement.


Option 1: File For Reinstatement


The first is to file for reinstatement using an I-539 reinstatement form. The benefit of this is it is a straightforward process in which you complete the form, file it, and then your case is reviewed. The negative of this method is that it can take a long time for your reinstatement to be processed. If your reinstatement is not successful, it means you’ve been in the US illegally and now you are subject to the 10 year ban. Unless you have a very strong case, we generally recommend that you don’t use this first option for student status reinstatement because of the huge consequences.


Option 2: Return to Your Home Country & Go Through Consular Processing


The second option you have for student status reinstatement is to return to your home country, get a new I-20, go before the consulate, and then return to the US with your new visa. Many Designated School Officials recommend that students use this option for student status reinstatement because it is a simple process, can be faster than a reinstatement, and you don’t have the same dire consequences as you do with a reinstatement disapproval. However, this is not a viable option for many students for various reasons like cost, time involved, issues in their home country, and commitments in the US. Additionally, consular processing varies so if you are from a country where it’s difficult to get an appointment at the consulate or the consulate is more strict with F-1 student visa approvals, this may not be the best option. It all depends on your situation.


Option 3: Physically Leave the US & Re-enter


This third option for your student status reinstatement is to physically leave the US and return going through customs to get your status reinstated. This option can be quick and it may be a less expensive option then returning to your home country, but it won’t work if your visa is already expired. It also comes with the risk that your case is not approved and then you end up stuck in another country without the means to return to the US. There is a lot of risk involved.


With all three options it’s important to really think about your case and prepare it well so that your chances of getting your student status reinstated increase. The bottom line is that all visa processing is done by humans and if you make your case well you can be successful.

If you have any questions about filing an I-539, F-1 student visas, or getting your student status reinstated, our team is here to help. Contact us to talk with someone about your case or take a look at our F-1 visa success stories for real case examples.

Full Video Transcript

What do you do if your student status gets terminated? This video is going to cover the big picture, three solutions to how to gain your student status back. And before we get started, I just want you to know that I know it’s extremely stressful. It’s a painful situation. How could it even happen? It’s probably not even your fault, but the system is the way it is and we’re going to go through every single step so you know exactly what you need to do. Okay, let’s get started.


[0:26] Tsang Intro Splash


[0:29] Hi everyone, my name is Joseph. I’m the managing partner here at Tsang & Associates, where we solve legal problems with creative solutions. So the legal problem is that some people’s student visas get revoked or terminated, and this can happen in so many ways. I wish there was a simpler way to fix things, but as it’s laid out, these are the three ways to solve the problem. We’re going to talk about the pros and cons of each one so you can know what you should do if you’re in this situation.


[1:00] The first way is you file a reinstatement. It’s a simple form; it’s deceptively simple because, if you look at it, it just says, “Oh, you need to fill out this form. You get a letter from the school, and you have to explain why you fell out of status.” It seems like it’s just a note that you give to a principal, and then they’re like, “Oh, okay, I forgive you,” and you get back in status.


[1:19] But in reality, if you really want to win the case, you want to do it a lot better. So we have a lot of examples of people doing it themselves, it fails, then we do it and it succeeds. And so that’s a direct causal comparison, right? And the difference is not because, you know, we are attorneys and we signed the form or anything; it’s because the documents we were able to collect and prepare were just that much more comprehensive. We explained much more thoroughly why this person fell out of status, detailing what they did in the meantime, that they were not unlawful. We asked for grace; we asked for forgiveness; we showed them that they’re going to be great in the future and how the school benefits. We do all these additional argumentation that’s not required, but somehow that’s what gets it approved.


[2:01] So, that is the first way to go about it — preparing a 539 reinstatement case.


The problem with reinstatements is that it takes an extremely long time. And if it’s not successful, you’ve been unlawfully in the U.S. for that entire time because the moment your status gets terminated, you’re suddenly unlawful here. If you win, you’re in heaven, right? Because your student status gets revalidated; you can go back to school again, and life goes on, but if it fails, suddenly you have a 10 year ban in the US. So reinstatement is a huge gamble.

So generally, we don’t advise it unless you have a very solid and strong case or if you’re just buying time — that’s just one way to go about doing it. So that’s one method.


[2:45] The second solution is going back home. Go before the consulate and get a visa and come back in again. And so this is actually what most DSOs (Designated School Officers) advise their students because it’s quick. You buy a plane ticket, you fly back, you’re issued a new I-20, and it’s basically restarting the process, and you go to the consulate and you prove your case.


[3:03] For a lot of people, that is not a viable solution as well. Maybe the country is in lockdown, maybe the consulates, the interviews can’t be scheduled until 3 or 4 months later before they could get the visa and then come back in. For some people they have other competitions that are lined up in the US, they need to start within a few weeks. Some people just can’t afford the cost. So there’s a lot of various reasons why people cannot go back to the consulate.


[3:25] Some consulates are extremely strict. Maybe some consulates in certain countries, their approval rate for F-1 visas are in like 5%-10% range. So if you are lucky enough to get it and then suddenly something happened to it, good luck trying to get it again, right? So that is the problem with the consulate route. 


Most Designated School Officials (DSOs) just don’t seem to understand. It seems so simple. “Well, you were a student, why can’t you just get it again? You just have to fly back and come back in.” It’s like, you know, unplugging and plugging back in, except you’re putting all this burden on this student when it wasn’t their fault in the first place. So that’s the second solution.


[4:02] The third solution is actually just to leave the country physically and then just come back in physically instead of the airport route; you do it with the Customs officer. This has a lot of risks and a lot of requirements as well.


[4:13] So first off, you need to be able to leave the country. If your visa is already expired, you can’t leave the country. You can’t get into those other countries. You can’t get into Canada or can’t get into Mexico. And let’s say you fail… Let’s say you fail to convince the Customs officer that you have a sympathetic case and that you deserve to have your I-20, your student status, reinstated. You have a bad case. Well, now you’re stuck in Mexico, right? You’re stuck in Canada, and you now need to fly back home from that other third country. You left your house, your belongings, everything here and you’re still back to step 2. 


[4:48] These are 3 different solutions. None of them is easy; all of them are painful. USCIS is operated by people, and if you have a sympathetic, good enough case, maybe, that person will be sympathetic and understanding enough. That is USCIS. The Consulate are also people. They also want to help students. Customs officers are also people and they also listen to cases as well. And so, when in doubt, prepare your case well and try all three.


[5:19] I wish the system was simpler. I wish it was a simpler solution, but there really isn’t, and you can’t be in denial. These are the three different pathways and this is your fight. So, kind of, think really hard how to prepare your case well, choose your path, and hope that the person that is reviewing your case understands your circumstances and is willing to approve it.


If you have any questions about reinstatement, about entry, about the consultation, how to prepare your case, I would love to talk to you more about that.


Take care, and bye-bye.