F-1 Reinstatement Approval

STUDENT FALLS OUT OF STATUS WITH ONLY 9 DAYS TO RESPOND TO RFE FOR F-1 REINSTATEMENT

  • Nationality: China
  • Case: F-1 Reinstatement
  • Processing Time: 9 Days
  • Challenges:
    1. The student accrued 2 years of unlawful presence
    2. The student changed schools and needed to communicate with both school DSO
    3. USCIS issued RFE to wrong address, so we only had 9 out of the 30 days to file the RFE
    4. The student did not have proof of funds to pay for school

BACKGROUND

Sometimes the randomness of life does not simply work in our favor. Our client, Ms. Wong, found herself in an incredibly unfortunate situation. Back in 2017, she needed to apply for F-1 reinstatement to return to school in the United States. She completed all the requirements and wholeheartedly believed that soon she would be receiving good news from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, for whatever reason, without responding to the application for reinstatement, USCIS closed her account and she fell out of status without knowing that she was not in the United States legally. She did not discover her current status until she was applying for a new school in 2019. Once she became aware that her F-1 Visa was no longer valid, Ms. Wong fell into a complete state of panic. F-1 visas can be somewhat tricky to receive even under the best circumstances. Knowing the statistics, Ms. Wong faced severe doubt especially since she accrued years of being in the United States illegally. When Ms. Wong arrived to our office, it was obvious she was filled with anxiety and hopelessness. She was extremely young and she felt like the entire weight of the U.S. government was moving against her. We calmed her down and she explained her case to us. Once we heard all the details, we felt like we could get her a positive resolution despite the circumstances.

KEYS TO SUCCESS

We filed a Motion to Reopen (MTR) with USCIS and awaited their response. Initially, none came, which was confusing, but we thought there might just be a delay in getting to her case. However, again, poor luck struck Ms. Wong. USCIS had sent their response to the wrong address, and by the time that their response found its way back to Ms. Wong, there were only nine of the original thirty days left to respond. USCIS issued a Request for Evidence (RFE) regarding two factors in Ms. Wong’s case: The first being a request for Ms. Wong’s original application for F-1 reinstatement back in 2017. The second being her ability to pay for school. We knew that we had to move quickly to satisfy both of these factors thoroughly and completely.

Our team knew the first request for the original application would be extremely difficult to obtain. It was over two years old, and Ms. Wong did not have a copy of her original request since she thought the matter had been settled back in 2017. Every school has a designated school official (DSO) to help international students navigate these sorts of problems, so we sent her to meet with her current school’s DSO to see if there was anything they could do to help. Unfortunately, since Ms. Wong had requested for reinstatement with her former school, there was nothing that her current DSO could do for her. She called us once again in a panic. We calmed her down and told her she had options. Many people feel an overwhelming sense of panic whenever they hit even small roadblocks in their lives, but part of our job is to calm our clients down and empower them with the truth; all was not lost. We sent her to her old school’s DSO. We knew that given that Ms. Wong was no longer a student there, the old DSO was under no obligation to help, but we also knew that this was a fairly routine request made of DSO’s around the country. Ms. Wong approached her old DSO and found her willing to help, and Ms. Wong returned to us with a copy of her original 2017 application in hand.

However, the process had taken nearly 4 days of our 9, and given that we needed to file ahead of the deadline, we only had four days left to tackle the second request to provide evidence in the ability to pay. When Ms. Wong told us the status of her bank account, we informed her that it was unlikely to meet the requirements of USCIS and that she would need access to more funds to help prove that she was going to be able to pay for school and live here in the U.S. without working. People cannot work when having an F-1 visa, so while she had enough money to cover tuition, she also needed money for rent and food. She called up her father and explained the situation to him. He was gracious and sent more money to her account, but the whole process took another three days. When we filed our response to USCIS, it was on the very last day before the deadline.

OUTCOME

With the evidence that we had put together in her MTR and the evidence we acquired to respond to the USCIS, Ms. Wong’s case had gone from being on its last legs to a transformative foundation. USCIS approved our MTR while also approving Ms. Wong’s application for F-1 reinstatement. Ms. Wong can now live panic-free from this case and can focus on her education here in the United States.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity

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