International Student Office (ISO)
Being Out of Status and Reinstatement out of status

When a student has violated an immigration policy regarding their F-1 visa status, they are considered to be “Out of Status.” This is a serious situation, even if you do not see negative results immediately. Usually, the Out of Status violation causes problems when a student travels, registers for the next semester, applies for an internship, or has other interaction with the government computer system for tracking international students. This system is called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (called SEVIS) and keeps a record of enrollment, addresses, employment, and other details about each F-1 visa student. Once data is entered into SEVIS, it is in the hands of the government, and your school cannot reverse or erase it.

Once a student is determined to be Out of Status, there are usually only two options:

1. The student may apply for a new I-20 (if eligible) and attempt to leave the U.S., then re-enter the U.S. with that new I-20. If successful, the student will be starting a new episode of F-1 status, which he/she must maintain. In some cases, the student may need to apply for a new visa, as well. There is, as in all travel cases, some risk involved, as the student may be refused entry to the U.S. for any reason.

2. Stay in the U.S. and apply for Reinstatement. This process may take 4 months or longer, while the paperwork waits for review by an Immigration Officer. There is also risk of denial involved in this method.

Consequences of Reinstatement Denial: ( Continued from previous page )

Overstay and visa cancellation and unlawful presence are two penalty provisions that can be activated if a request for reinstatement is denied. Since reinstatement by definition consists of a finding by USCIS that there has been a violation, the denial of a reinstatement application would in all likelihood be considered a “formal find of a status violation resulting in the termination of the period of stay authorized by the Attorney General." Under current USCIS guidance on the applicability of 222(g) overstay and visa cancellation, and 212(a)(9)(B), the reinstatement denial would have the following effects, as of the date of the denial:

The visa that the student used to enter the United States is automatically cancelled:

  • The student is permanently limited to applying for nonimmigrant visas
  • in the future only in his country of citizenship or permanent residence:
  • The student will begin accumulating days of "unlawful presence." If the student remains in the United States after the denial for over 180 days, he/she will be barred from returning to the United States for three years; if he/she remains after the denial for one year or more, he/she will be barred from returning to the United States for ten years.

Additionally, whether the application is approved or denied there is an official record of a violation of status in USCIS database. Status violations can have future impact on eligibility for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status, H visas and green cards.

In summary, students are individually responsible for maintaining their visa status. Students are responsible keeping up to date on the regulations that the U.S. Government imposed on international students.

The University of Memphis International Students Office will make every effort to provide information about these regulations to students through their official University of Memphis e-mail addresses, and through other announcement, but the ultimate responsibility rests with the student.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12