F-1 Reinstatement With Only 9 Days to File
- Applicant: Ms. Wong
- Nationality: Chinese
- Applying For: F-1 reinstatement
- Time: 9 Days
- Student fell out of status
- Client changed schools
- USCIS issued RFE to wrong address, and now they only had 9 out of the 30 days to file the RFE
- Client was running into issues with the ability to pay for school
Sometimes the randomness of life just doesn’t go our way. Our client, Ms. Wong, found herself in an incredibly unlucky situation. Back in 2017, she needed to apply for F-1 reinstatement in order to go back to school here in the United States. She did everything she needed to and wholeheartedly believed that soon she’d be hearing back from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that she would be able to start going to school. 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. The way she found out was when she wanted to go to a new school in 2019, she was informed that she technically no longer had an F-1 visa. Obviously, she was in a panic now. F-1 visas can be somewhat tricky to get under the best of circumstances, and now she had accrued years of being in the United States illegally. She came to us in quite a state of dismay. 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, so we took her on as a client and got to work.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
We filed a motion to reopen her case with USCIS and awaited their response. Initially, none came, which confused us, 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 was a request for Ms. Wong’s original application for F-1 reinstatement back in 2017, and the second was her ability to pay for school. We knew that we had to move quickly in order to satisfy both of these factors thoroughly and completely.
First up was the more difficult one, the request for the original application. 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 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 by 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 four days of our nine, and given that we needed to file ahead of the deadline, we only had four days left to tackle the second factor USCIS requested more evidence for, 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 on 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.
Ms. Wong’s poor luck finally ran out. With the evidence that we had put together in her motion to reopen and the evidence we acquired to respond to USCIS’ response to our motion, Ms. Wong’s case had gone from being on its last legs to very strong. USCIS approved our motion to reopen and approved 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 for client privacy.