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F-1 Reinstatement vs. Travel and Re-entry Comparison Chart

An F-1 student in the U.S. who fails to maintain their student status has two choices if they endeavor to regain their student status: 

1) Apply for Reinstatement of student status; or 2) Travel abroad, then re-enter the U.S. in a valid student status.  

The Reinstatement process, which takes place while the student remains in the U.S., has certain advantages, but departing the U.S. and re-entering may be preferred depending on the circumstances. 

F-1 Reinstatement vs. Travel and Re-entry Comparison Chart

Reinstatement in the U.S. Travel and Re-entry

  • Can continue studying while the Reinstatement is pending; 
  • If the Reinstatement is approved, the student applicant is eligible for work authorization without waiting for one academic year; 
  • If the Reinstatement is denied, the possibility to request reconsideration of the denial exists; 
  • Depending on the timing, an F-1 student can sometimes still travel to obtain a visa even after Reinstatement has been denied.


  • If completed properly, regaining F-1 status is quicker. 





  • Usually takes 5-9 months to receive an answer as to whether Reinstatement is granted; 
  • Employment and travel are not authorized while Reinstatement request is pending; 
  • Those that have worked without authorization are not qualified.


  • Expense of travel;
  • Time involved in traveling may interrupt studies;
  • A new visa interview and application are required if the current visa is expired (Possibility of visa interview delays if Embassy closed during Covid-19); 
  • Administrative delays in visa issuance are a possibility; 
  • No appeal is possible if the visa is refused; 
  • Possibility of Border closures related to “travel bans” or Covid-19 entry restrictions;
  • Must typically regain student status for one full academic year after reentry prior to earning eligibility for off-campus employment.


Choosing Between Reinstatement in the U.S. and Reentry travel

Each option carries risk.  If the reinstatement application is denied, the student loses their student status in the short term and is required to depart the U.S. immediately (or file a motion to reconsider/reopen).  If a student that departs the U.S. and seeks reentry is denied a visa or admission to the U.S. at a port of entry, they may face both current and additional future barriers to reentry in the future.

During the Covid-19 era, during which border can close on short notice and traveling overseas is inadvisable, most students who are eligible choose to pursue Reinstatement rather than travel and re-entry. The primary reason being that pursuing reinstatement allows them to continue their studies from within the U.S. 

F-1 students that believe they may be out of status should speak to their academic institution’s DSO immediately.  In particularly complicated cases, the assistance of an immigration attorney experienced in F-1 Reinstatements should be obtained.


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