F-1: Violation of Status

Status Violation Overview

As an individual, present in the United States under the student visa program, it is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status by complying with federal immigration regulations and university policies. The ISS office is here to assist you with this by providing you information and services to ensure you are able to remain compliant. Please see the page on Maintaining Legal Status for more information.

If you fail to maintain your status (otherwise known as a having “violation of status” or falling “out of status”), this is a very serious matter that must be taken care of as quickly as possible. A violation of status risks your ability to stay in the U.S. and may have severe implications for future immigration benefits or your legal right to remain in or reenter the United States.  After a violation of status, you are not eligible for any benefits of your visa status (for example: employment authorization, travel signature for reentry into the U.S., program extension, etc). A status violation will require the ISS office to terminate your non-immigrant status in the SEVIS system, and you will need to seek guidance from a licensed legal professional who has knowledge of U.S. Immigration and Visa policies in order to attempt to regain your status to enable you to further your educational objectives in the United States.

Status Violation Examples

  • Unauthorized employment
  • Unauthorized withdrawal from classes
  • Unauthorized drop below full course of study (even one day)
  • Failing to complete your degree program timely and as intended, except for circumstances beyond your control.
  • Enrolling in too many credits delivered via "distance learning"
  • Violation of a University policy that results in the loss of your eligibility to enroll
  • Failure to file for a program extension in a timely manner
  • Expulsion or suspension
  • Failure to enroll in classes
  • Failure to report OPT employment
  • Exceeding allowed number of unemployment days on OPT
  • Otherwise failing to maintain status

 

Note:  Engaging in illicit drugs or alcohol related violations will lead to the revocation of your student visa.


Regaining Immigration Status

If you believe you have violated your immigration status, or if you have been informed that you have, you must discuss your options with the ISS office. ISS will help determine which options you are eligible for, discuss the pros and cons of each option, and provide further information on the next steps to take.

 

Keep in mind that every day you are present in the United States without lawful status counts against you for future opportunities in the United States.  You could be:

1.  Deported From the United States

2.  Barred from reentering the United States for a period of 3, or 10, years or for life.

 

ISS also recommends that you discuss your situation with an immigration attorney so that you can make an informed decision.

There are generally two ways a student may to address a violation of status:

  • Submit an application for a reinstatement of status to USCIS
  • Exit the U.S. and reenter on a new SEVIS record (a new “initial attendance” document)

Option 1: Reinstatement

Applying for reinstatement of status after a status violation involves submitting an application to USCIS. The processing time for a reinstatement application can take anywhere from 4-12 months, and you cannot travel outside the U.S. while the application is pending. If the application is approved, your immigration status would be reinstated (restored). You would keep the same SEVIS number, and you would be eligible to apply for immigration-related benefits (such as employment authorization) for which you qualify right away. The violation of status is essentially considered “forgiven” if the reinstatement application is approved.

Reinstatement Eligibility

As per USCIS guidance, you may be eligible for a reinstatement of your status if you:

  • Have not been out of status for more than five (5) months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrate that the failure to file within the five-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that you filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
  • Do not have a record of repeated or willful violations of regulations;
  • Are currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future;
  • Have not engaged in unauthorized employment;
  • Are not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
  • Establish to the satisfaction of USCIS, by a detailed showing, either that:
    • The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond your control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on your part resulted in the need for reinstatement; or
    • The violation relates to a reduction in your course load that would have been within a DSO's power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to you.

(Source: 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16)(i)(A-F))

Reinstatement Application Procedure

  1. Schedule an appointment with an ISS Immigration Counselor to discuss your options to regain status.
    • Review this webpage before your appointment so that you are familiar with the options and make a list of your questions. At the appointment, the Immigration Counselor will discuss with you your eligibility for reinstatement or traveling for new status.
    • You may also want to consult with an immigration attorney regarding your options.
  2. Visit https://www.uscis.gov/i-539 and read the information thoroughly
    • Read the “Instructions for Form I-539”
    • Print the “Form I-539” link from this website to ensure you are using the current edition
    • Read the section on “Where to File” for information on where to send your application
    • Check the “Filing Fee” section to ensure you provide the correct fee amount
  3. Request your reinstatement I-20 from ISS
    • At your appointment to discuss your status violation and options, the ISS Immigration Counselor will give you a link to access the “Regaining F-1 Status” e-form. Use that link to submit your request for a reinstatement I-20.
    • You will need to upload financial documentation and your letter of explanation about the status violation (see below #4g for more information) in the e-form.
    • Your academic contact will need to fill out an e-form confirming information regarding your academic program.
    • ISS will take a maximum of 14 calendar days to prepare your reinstatement I-20 (and other ISS-produced documents, if required).
  4. Prepare your reinstatement request documents
    • Printout of I-94 record (www.cbp.gov/i94) or copy of front and back of I-94 card
    • Photocopy of your passport with picture, name, and birthdate
    • Photocopy of F-1 visa page
    • Photocopy of financial documents used to create your reinstatement I-20
      • Amount should be at or above the amount listed on your reinstatement I-20
    • Most recent official transcript
      • You can order an electronic transcript through MyPurdue and print it yourself
    • Certificate of enrollment
      • You can order an electronic certificate of enrollment through MyPurdue and print it yourself
    • Letter addressed to USCIS and signed by you, truthfully explaining the situation, stating:
      • That the violation of status was due solely to circumstances beyond your control or that failure to reinstate you would result in extreme hardship;
      • You are pursuing or will pursue a full course of study
      • You have not been employed without authorization; and
      • You are not in removal proceedings
      • If you have ever been arrested, fingerprinted or detained, or convicted of a criminal or civil offense, copy of a certified copy of the charging document, arrest and conviction records, and any other official documentation regarding the incident.
    • Proof of payment of SEVIS I-901 fee
      • Receipts can be printed here: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html
      • If you have been out of status for more than 5 months, you must pay the fee again and submit proof of payment
      • If you have been out of status for less than 5 months, you must submit proof of your previous payment
    • Filing fee for Form I-539
    • Form I-539
      • Be sure that the form is completely filled out as per instructions
      • Be sure to sign your form by hand in blue ink
    • Photocopy of I-20 showing reinstatement recommendation
      • ISS will provide this
    • Letter explaining the situation, written and signed by an ISS Designated School Official
      • ISS will provide this
  5. Optionally schedule a follow-up appointment
    • Once the new I-20 has been created for you, you may optionally schedule another appointment with the Immigration Counselor if you have any remaining questions or concerns.
  6. Send your reinstatement application to USCIS
    • Be sure to make a photocopy of ALL application materials for your records before sending to USCIS.
    • ISS recommends using a receipt-based mailing service such as certified mail, so that you have evidence of when documents are received by USCIS.
    • For U.S. Postal Service (including US Postal Service Express mail):

USCIS 
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266

    • For express mail and courier deliveries (e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc):

USCIS 
ATTN: I-539 
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400 
Lewisville, TX 75067

What Happens Next with a Reinstatement Application

While your reinstatement application is pending:

  • The application processing time varies widely, but it will likely take a very long time. ISS has seen processing times take anywhere from 4-12 months. ISS cannot check on the status of the application.
  • You can and should continue a full-time program of study.
  • You must comply with all the requirements for maintaining student status.
  • You should not travel outside the United States, as doing so may be considered an abandonment of the pending reinstatement application.
  • If you must travel while the reinstatement, you will likely have to reenter on a new, initial attendance Form I-20 as well as pay the SEVIS fee. Inform ISS before your travel for instructions and to request a new I-20.
  • You cannot work on- or off-campus.
  • You are not eligible to apply for any immigration-related benefits under your F-1 program while the reinstatement application is pending. This includes Curricular Practical Training, extension of stay, and/or Optional Practical Training.

If your reinstatement application is approved:

If USCIS approves the reinstatement request, you will receive an official approval notice (a form I-797) from USCIS. You may also receive either your original I-94 card back (if you mailed in your original), or you may receive a new I-94 card located at the bottom of Form I-797.

Once you receive the official notice, you are required to bring your documents to ISS and officially “check in” immediately upon your return to the U.S.

To “check in”, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully watch this video about your student immigration regulations: http://www.iss.purdue.edu/Resources/Presentations/Immigration.cfm
  2. Submit your check-in e-forms:
    • Log in to myISS (https://connect.iss.purdue.edu/)
    • Click on the Pre-Arrival and Orientation link on the left menu. Then click on the New Student Check In (PWL) link.
    • Click each required link to complete each e-form and follow the instructions to upload the required supporting documentation
      • Be sure to click the SUBMIT button on each e-form to save your work.
      • If you brought dependents with you to the United States, please complete the Dependents Documents e-form and be sure to click the SUBMIT button in each dependent e-form to save your work
    • Complete the Submit Request e-form to upload all of your responses to the ISS office. 
    • Click the Upload I-94 Arrival Record (after US arrival) link and follow instructions to upload all required documentation.
      • Be sure to click the SUBMIT button in the Upload I-94 Arrival Record e-form to submit it to the ISS office.
      • If you are unable to locate your I-94, please complete the form to the best of your ability, then click SAVE AS DRAFT.
  3. After you have watched the video and submitted your e-forms, come to the ISS office in Schleman 136 during walk-in hours (Mon-Fri 9am-11:30am and 1:30pm-5pm, except Thu morning), bringing the passport, visa, I-20 and I-94 record for you (and dependents, if you have any). You will meet with an Immigration Counselor to complete the necessary paperwork and to ask any questions you may have on how to maintain your F1 status.

If your reinstatement application is denied:

If USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request:

  • You may not appeal the decision. You may be able to work with a licensed attorney to file a motion to reopen or reconsider if warranted.
  • You must prepare to exit the U.S. on or before the date stated in the Notice of Decision – Denial. Failure to follow the explicit instructions in the notice could result in severe circumstances when/if applying for future benefits in or to the United States.  We strongly recommend that you speak with a licensed legal professional with experience in such matters.

Option 2: Travel for New Status

Another option is to seek lawful reentry after a status violation by traveling outside the U.S. and reentering on a new SEVIS record with a new initial I-20, rather than apply for reinstatement. The reasons for choosing this option may vary: if you are not be eligible to apply for a reinstatement, if you want to control the timing to regain status rather than wait on an application, if you have been out of status for more than five months, if you are outside the U.S. when you find out you have violated your status, etc.

Traveling for New Status Considerations

By traveling and reentering the U.S. to regain status, you should be aware of these important considerations:

  • You will be considered a new initial student for SEVIS purposes. You will lose any time accrued toward qualification for practical training (meaning, you will need to complete one-full academic year on your new SEVIS record once you reenter the U.S. to be eligible to apply for CPT or OPT).
  • The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspecting officer at the port of entry will determine if admission to the U.S. is warranted. If you did not comply with the terms of your status during a prior stay in the U.S., s/he may decide you are ineligible to reenter.
  • It is not necessary to travel to your home country if you take this option to Travel for New Status. You only need to exit the U.S., and reenter on a new I-94 record. You may want to fly, as opposed to making a land crossing, to ensure a better likelihood of getting a new I-94 number. However, if you travel to a different country in order to exit and reenter, keep in mind that you may need a visa to enter other countries, and you will need to arrange for this yourself. Also consider that you may be delayed or even denied entry to the U.S. The least risky option may be to travel to your home country.
  • While traveling and reentering on new status is a method to gain new status, it does not solve the issue of the violation of status on your previous SEVIS record. This may or may not cause you issues in the future if you apply for other immigration benefits.

Travel for New Status Procedure

  1. Schedule an appointment with an ISS Immigration Counselor to discuss your options to regain status.
    • Review this webpage before your appointment so that you are familiar with the options and make a list of your questions. At the appointment, the Immigration Counselor will discuss with you your eligibility for reinstatement or traveling for new status. If you are thinking of traveling, you MUST discuss your travel dates with the Immigration Counselor before proceeding with this option.
    • You may also want to consult with an immigration attorney regarding your options.
  2. Request your Travel for New Status I-20 from ISS
    • At your appointment to discuss your status violation and options, the ISS Immigration Counselor will give you a link to access the “Regaining F-1 Status” e-form. Use that link to submit your request for a Travel for New Status I-20.
    • You will need to upload financial documentation in the e-form.
    • Your academic contact will need to fill out an e-form confirming information regarding your academic program.
    • ISS will take a maximum of 14 calendar days to prepare your Travel for New Status I-20.
  3. Optionally schedule a follow-up appointment
    • Once the new I-20 has been created for you, you may optionally schedule another appointment with the Immigration Counselor if you have any remaining questions or concerns.
  4. Travel and Reenter the U.S.
    • You must discuss your intended travel dates and new Travel for New Status I-20 program dates very carefully with an Immigration Counselor. Do not book your travel until you have spoken with the Immigration Counselor. Since you will be traveling on a new initial document, you may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program start date on the I-20.
    • You must have a valid U.S. visa to enter the U.S. If your U.S. visa is expired, or if you have been out of status for more than five months, you will need to renew your visa. You are not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.
    • Since you have a new “initial attendance” I-20 with a new SEVIS number, you will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment before your visa appointment and before re-entering the United States. The fastest way to do this is to pay online at http://www.fmjfee.com/ with a credit card and print out the receipt to carry with you. 
    • You will be required to show the SEVIS Fee receipt along with your new I-20, passport and F-1 visa upon reentry to the U.S. 
    • You may be required to go to “secondary inspection” upon reentry as your SEVIS record will show you have had a termination event. Answer questions simply and truthfully. Show other documents as requested.
    •  You will receive a new electronic I-94 record when you reenter the United States. After you reenter, visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/ and print your new most recent I-94 record. Your passport should be stamped by a CBP officer upon reentry.
  5. Check In with ISS
    • You are required to bring your documents to ISS and officially “check in” immediately upon your return to the U.S. To “check in”, please follow these steps:
      • Carefully watch this video about your student immigration regulations: http://www.iss.purdue.edu/Resources/Presentations/Immigration.cfm
      • Submit your check-in e-forms:
        • Log in to myISS (https://connect.iss.purdue.edu/)
        • Click on the Pre-Arrival and Orientation link on the left menu. Then click on the New Student Check In (PWL) link.
        • Click each required link to complete each e-form and follow the instructions to upload the required supporting documentation
          • Be sure to click the SUBMIT button on each e-form to save your work.
          • If you brought dependents with you to the United States, please complete the Dependents Documents e-form and be sure to click the SUBMIT button in each dependent e-form to save your work.
        • Complete the Submit Request e-form to upload all of your responses to the ISS office.
        • Click the Upload I-94 Arrival Record (after US arrival) link and follow instructions to upload all required documentation.
          • Be sure to click the SUBMIT button in the Upload I-94 Arrival Record e-form to submit it to the ISS office.
          • If you are unable to locate your I-94, please complete the form to the best of your ability, then click SAVE AS DRAFT.
      • After you have watched the video and submitted your e-forms, come to the ISS office in Schleman 136 during walk-in hours (Mon-Fri 9am-11:30am and 1:30pm-5pm, except Thu morning), bringing the passport, visa, I-20 and I-94 record for you (and dependents, if you have any). You will meet with an Immigration Counselor to complete the necessary paperwork and to ask any questions you may have on how to maintain your F1 status.

What Happens After Traveling for New Status

Remember, after traveling for new status, you are entering on a new SEVIS record. You will not be eligible to apply for CPT or OPT until you have completed one full academic year after starting your new SEVIS record.

Your Travel for New Status I-20 is only signed for initial entry. Once you are back in the United States, have officially checked in with ISS, and are registered full-time, you will need to get your document endorsed for travel (and reentry) if you wish to travel outside the U.S. any time after initial entry.


Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by International Students and Scholars

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact International Students and Scholars iss@purdue.edu.