You are responsible for maintaining your immigration status so you can legally remain in the U.S. Not maintaining your legal status can lead to immigration problems and possible deportation, so follow these steps to remain in status:
- Enroll full-time in courses: undergraduates must take at least 12 credit hours per term; graduate students must take at least 8 credit hours per term.
- Make satisfactory progress in your academic program and pass your classes.
- Request a program extension, if needed, before your current status/form expires (see section below).
- Keep your passport valid.
- Maintain your Wayne State University international student health insurance coverage.
- Obtain proper authorization before working.
- Notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 10 days if you move or change your name.
All international students, unless they have been issued an I-20 as a part-time commuting Canadian, are required to be enrolled full-time for the fall and winter semesters (and spring/summer session if you begin your academic program during that term).
For immigration purposes, full-time enrollment is defined as:
- Undergraduate students: 12 credit hours
- Graduate students: 8 credit hours or the number of credit hours required by the department for all graduate students in the same program
- Professional students: Follow the enrollment requirements established by your academic program
U.S. immigration regulations require F-1 and J-1 international students to register for, and complete, a full course load, each semester of the academic year (fall and winter terms). Full-time course registration must be completed by the first day of classes each term or you will be recorded out of status and your I20 will be subjected to termination without additional follow-up. Student enrollment continues to be monitored throughout the semester.
There are exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirements, but students must file an Exception to Full-time Enrollment form with the Office of International Students and Scholars by the first day of classes. That form can be found online at: https://oip.wayne.edu/oiss/pdf/full-time-enrollment-exception-last-semester-exception.pdf
Students who drop below full-time enrollment without approval from OISS must be reported to the Department of Homeland Security via SEVIS. If that happens, your SEVIS record will be terminated and you will lose lawful F-1 or J-1 status, including employment eligibility and benefits.
Please note that receiving a grade of W or X means that you will not receive credit for that course and these courses cannot be used to meet the full-time course requirement. Make sure that you check with an advisor at OISS before you take a W or an X for a class. Audited courses cannot be used to meet the full-time course requirement.
F-1 students can meet the full-time enrollment requirement through concurrent enrollment at WSU and another SEVIS-approved school. F-1 students must take at least one half of their total credit hours at Wayne State University. For example if you are an undergraduate student, you have to take at least 6 credit hours at WSU; if you are a graduate student, you must take at least 4 credit hours at WSU. The remaining credits can be taken at another SEVIS-approved school.
Additional information can be found online at: https://oip.wayne.edu/oiss/pdf/f-1-student-concurrent-enrollment.pdf.
If this form will be submitted, it must be approved by the first day of classes for the term.
Extend your stay
Your I-94 form shows your visa status (F-1, J-1, etc.) and the date your status expires. If you need to extend your stay to complete your academic program:
- Complete a Request for Program Extension form.
- Meet with your OISS advisor.
Make sure to complete these steps before you current stay expires.
You can learn more about maintaining status from the Department of Homeland Security.
Reinstatement to F-1 Status
Students who fail to maintain their F-1 status have two ways they can correct their status:
Travel out of the U.S. and re-enter with an "initial attendance" I-20. This allows you to "start over" with your F-1 visa status and is a valid way to correct your status. If your F-1 visa in your passport is valid, you may not have to apply for a new visa – you need to seek guidance from a US Embassy Abroad, normally located in your home country, to verify if you need to apply for a new visa or you can use the one that is in your passport. The penalty for this type of status correction is that you will not be eligible for any kind of off-campus work until after you have returned and maintained your F-1 status for another academic year.
To pursue this option, you need to request an initial I-20 from OISS by completing the form found online at: https://oip.wayne.edu/oiss/pdf/application-new-i-20.pdf. You will also need to obtain an updated plan of work from your academic department. If you have begun a new program or changed your program level, please also provide a copy of your admissions letter (or approval of a change of status) to the new program and/or level. If you have not taken any courses in the new program and/or level, a plan of work is not necessary. If your financial documents are more than 6 months old, you will need to provide proof of your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, scholarship award or a letter of offer from the department with an appointment as a GTA/GRA. Bring the completed form and required documents to OISS to meet with an adviser during walk-in advising hours.
If you do not wish to leave the U.S., or if it is important for you to be able to pursue F-1 off- campus employment benefits within the next academic year, you may also ask USCIS to forgive your status violation through a procedure called Reinstatement to Student Status.
A student who has violated their immigration status and whose status was terminated as a result of that violation may be reinstated to lawful F-1 status at the discretion of an USCIS district director, but only under the limited conditions specified at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(16).
The district director may consider reinstating a student who makes a request for reinstatement on Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, accompanied by a properly completed SEVIS Form I-20 indicating the DSO's recommendation for reinstatement (or a properly completed Form I-20A-B issued prior to January 30, 2003, from the school the student is attending or intends to attend prior to August 1, 2003). The district director may consider granting the request if the student:
- Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5-month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances);
- Does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of Service regulations;
- Is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the Form I-20;
- Has not engaged in unauthorized employment;
- Is not deportable on any ground other than section 237(a)(1)(B) or (C)(i) of the Act; and
- Establishes to the satisfaction of the Service, by a detailed showing, either that:
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student's 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 the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement; or
- The violation relates to a reduction in the student's 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 the student.
If the Service reinstates the student, the Service shall endorse the student's copy of Form I-20 to indicate the student has been reinstated and return the form to the student. If the Form I-20 is from a non-SEVIS school, the school copy will be forwarded to the school. If the Form I-20 is from a SEVIS school, the adjudicating officer will update SEVIS to reflect the Service's decision. In either case, if the Service does not reinstate the student, the student may not appeal that decision.
You will need to submit the following documents to USCIS to apply for reinstatement to F-1 status:
- Copy of your entire Form I-20 issued for applying for reinstatement purpose. You must come to OISS and submit a request to an OISS advisor to obtain a reinstatement I-20. This is done by completing the form found online at: https://oip.wayne.edu/oiss/pdf/application-new-i-20.pdf. You will also need to obtain an updated plan of work from your academic department. If you have begun a new program or changed your program level, please also provide a copy of your admissions letter (or approval of a change of status) to the new program and/or level. If you have not taken any courses in the new program and/or level, a plan of work is not necessary. If your financial documents are more than 6 months old, you will need to provide proof of your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, scholarship award or a letter of offer from the department with an appointment as a GTA/GRA. Bring the completed form and required documents to OISS to meet with an adviser during walk-in advising hours.
- Copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 and copy of your dependent(s) if applicable.
- Complete USCIS Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and submit the appropriate fee:
- A $370 check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security for the I-539 filing fee
- A separate $85 check or money order made payable to Department of Homeland Security to cover the biometric services fee
- If you write a personal check, your address and phone number should appear on the check. You may also pay the fee with a money order or a cashier's check.
- If you have been out of status for more than 5 months, you must pay the SEVIS fee and submit the fee receipt
- Copies of all of your immigration documents including valid passport, all U.S. visa stamps, and previous I-20's
- A cover letter explaining the circumstances that led to the violation and listing schools you have attended in the U.S. in chronological order
- Provide an official transcript sealed in the envelope and a letter from your department or academic advisor to verify that you are in good academic standing
- Submit documentation that demonstrates your ability to pay for your studies and support yourself while you are in the United States, such as a bank statement, scholarship award or a letter of offer from the department with an appointment as a GTA/GRA. These are the same documents OISS used to generate the reinstatement I-20 and matches the financial information listed.
Where to File
For U.S. Postal Service (including US Postal Service Express mail):
P.O. Box 660166
Dallas, TX 75266
For express mail and courier deliveries (e.g., UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc):
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
We recommend that you write "Expedite I-539 Reinstatement Applications" on the outside of the envelope and make a copy of this application for your own record. You might want to consider sending your application by U.S. "certified mail with a returned receipt." Please note, if you move, USCIS mail will NOT be forwarded to your new address.
What Happens Next
A receipt notice will be sent to you from the California Service Center with a case number assigned. You may then use the case number to check the status of the application from USCIS web site.
While your petition is being adjudicated, you MUST maintain F1 status. This means meeting F-1 student enrollment requirements. During this time, you cannot work either on-campus or participate in any form of practical training. You also must remain in the US while USCIS is adjudicating, otherwise it be considered an abandonment of your reinstatement petition. Out-of-status students are not eligible to apply for any student-related benefits while the reinstatement is pending.
If your application is denied, you may not appeal that decision and you must depart the U.S. immediately. The F-1 visa stamp in your passport becomes invalid immediately, even if the dates remain valid.
If your application is approved, USCIS will send you your I-20 and Form I-797A. I-797A is your reinstatement approval notice. You may receive a new I-94 number located at the bottom of Form I-797A. Please come into OISS during walk-in advising to meet with an international student advisor after you receive the above-mentioned documents and bring these items with you to your meeting with the advisor.