F-1 Status Is Terminated? Here’s What You Can Do

What To Do When Your F-1 Status Is Terminated

Categories: Resources
Published: December 28, 2023

Tags: F-1 | I-290B | Video

What To Do When Your F-1 Status Is Terminated Video Summary

In this video attorney Joseph Tsang reviews what to do when your F-1 Status is terminated. For F-1 students who have fallen out of status there are three options to regain legal status. The first is to leave the country and re-apply for an F-1 student visa. The issue with this option is that it can be expensive, not only because of the cost of the flights, but also because of the time involved. If you need to wait for a consular appointment, you could miss out on time that would have been spent studying. It may not be a quick trip home and back.


The second option when your F-1 status is terminated is to leave the country and come back in. This could be a border crossing to Mexico or Canada and then returning to the U.S. with your updated F-1 visa status. In this case, you’ll need to have a valid F-1, a valid passport, a new I-20 and your old I-20. If you don’t prepare appropriately for this option, you risk being stranded in a foreign country, unable to return to the U.S. until you resolve your visa issues.


Lastly, if your F-1 status is terminated you have the option to file for reinstatement. This option is an all or nothing scenario. If you file for reinstatement and it is denied, you will be unable to return to the U.S. for a ten year period of time. That’s a huge risk that could potentially derail all of your plans and studies. However, if you file for F-1 visa reinstatement and you are approved, you are free to continue your studies. 


Each of these methods has its pros and cons and Joseph goes through the full details for each one in this video to better help you find the right option when your F-1 status is terminated. If you need additional assistance with your F-1 student visa, contact us.

Full Video Transcript

What do you do if your F1 status is terminated? You’ve already invested so much in getting your F1 Visa. You did so much to go to the consulate. You did so much to pass through so many hoops and exams. If your F1 status is terminated, you are technically supposed to leave the U.S., but in this video, we’re gonna do a more big-picture look at all your options. Let’s get to it.

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 in this case is what do you do if your international student status is terminated? Your school terminated it for whatever reason. Now suddenly, you are being told by your school, by the people who are supposed to care for you, that your only option is to go back to your home country, right? And that sometimes is just not an option.

But let’s go through all the options so you can know what to do. 

So the first option is what the school is telling you. You came in as an F1 Visa, well, you need to go back and come back again as an F1 visa, and then we can restart the entire process. It’s kind of like log off, log on. You know, pull the plug, put it back in, that kind of idea. But some people live across the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the cost for them to pick up their bags, fly back is not just an airfare cost round trip, but also, the wait time to go to the consulate. And sometimes that might mean delaying the entire semester. For some people, that might mean never coming back because maybe the consulate will just not issue them the F1 visa ever again.

So for some people, this is a death to their academic career in the U.S. And think about that. Some people already spent three years, four years, five years in the U.S. studying, and they’ve already spent over a hundred thousand, two hundred, three hundred thousand in tuition. And suddenly, you’re being told, “Oh, go back and come back again and finish your last quarter.” Well, if you can’t, then everything that you were studying was for naught because you don’t ultimately get the degree. Think about that, right? And so some people are in that precarious situation where they just cannot go back. That is the first, but not the best option for many people.

The second option is if you have your passport and your visa is still valid, then you can take your passport and your visa and your new I-20, and the surrounding circumstances of your situation. Collect everything. Exit the country and then come back in. This time, you don’t fly out of the country; you just simply cross the border and come back. 

So we are based here in California. It is very often that I accompany students down into Mexico and then coming back, crossing through the border, explaining their circumstances to the CBP officer. And so they understand everything, and they’re able to come in. 

We prepare them before going down. We meet with them in the morning, and then we take them down. We review everything with the officer, and they come back in. Their status is saved, and they go back to school. 

You definitely need to prepare it well because so many times I’m at the border, and I’m doing the case, and my client, the student, is there, and we’re doing everything. Everything is above board; everything is very clean. And then, in the next hour, over there the other kid who didn’t have representation, didn’t watch this particular video, only had the old I-20, didn’t have the new I-20. The visa was expired. The passport was expired. They didn’t have proof of funds. They didn’t have the ability to pay. They didn’t have a lot of these things. They see a bad record, and bam, sorry, we’re not going to allow you into the U.S. 

What is the kid to do? They have to fly back to their home country from Mexico, and they don’t even speak Spanish. Right and so, a lot of people are stuck in these precarious situations. It’s definitely better to prepare your case well beforehand before executing this because if it doesn’t work, you’re stuck in a foreign country. So that’s option number two. Also not necessarily the best option. And there are a lot of requirements. Your passport needs to be valid. Your visa needs to be valid. You need to have new I-20s. Your old I-20 needs to be valid. You need to have all these other documents, and your situation needs to be sympathetic so the officers reviewing it would be persuaded, and you need to feel safe to be able to cross because some people can’t take the risk. So they’re not willing to get the reward. So that’s option number two.

Option number three is filing a reinstatement with USCIS, and that’s on the form I-539. You can read all the requirements, but it’s also a very long and convoluted situation. This is one of those things where it’s all win or all loss. If you file the reinstatement and you win the case, then your status goes back to being in status, and you can continue going to school. But if you lose the reinstatement case, then the entire time that you’re waiting for the reinstatement, all that time, you’re unlawfully present. And if that time is over one year, which oftentimes it is, that means you are really making the decision “If I file the reinstatement and if I win, then I can legally stay here and eventually later on, I can get other status and get a green card. If I lose, then for 10 years, I cannot come back to the U.S.; I will be illegal here, I’m undocumented, it’s gonna be terrible.” That is the situation with reinstatement. 

It will be so much better if you file the reinstatement within two weeks; there’s a result, oh yes, you can be reinstated. I understand that was a psychological trauma. We understand your situation. We understand you’re a good student. Okay, you could go back to school. 

If it was just that, it would be so much easier. But it’s out of the school’s hands; the school says you are out of status; we cannot help you; you need to contact USCIS. USCIS needs to reinstate you. USCIS is unfortunately taking years to process a reinstatement. And then if the case gets denied, well, then now you’re going to file a motion to reopen, and that could take more time. And also, it’s not just a simple, here’s a one-page statement; here’s a form; here’s a filing fee. Oftentimes, they ask for so many things. And sometimes in preparing a case, it takes us months to respond to all the things USCIS is asking for. 

I know as an international student, it’s all very confusing. Don’t I just need to show my proof of payment for the tuition, show that I’m a pretty good kid, I’m good grades? How can this little mix-up suddenly derail my life for years and years with the consequence of 10 years not being able to be in the U.S.? I know it’s crazy, but that is the solution that USCIS has come up with. There are hundreds of thousands of international students in the U.S., and a lot of them, unfortunately, fall out of status, and there are just not a lot of options to service and to help them. 

So if you are in the unfortunate situation, you really just have to make a determination. You go back to your home country and get a new Visa; you cross the border, prepare everything, and hopefully, a customs officer will be able to admit you; or you file the reinstatement. 

We do all three all the time. We are creating all these other stories. Hopefully, you found it helpful. I mean, we’re here, as a law firm, we’re here to help immigrants and business visas. It’s not our joy to see students fall out of status. I know it’s extremely painful for the parents as well as for the students. You’re already committing a lot of money into the U.S., and so I’ve promised so many people that we’ll do a video on explaining the entire process and how we do it. Hopefully, you found it helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Take care. Bye.