International Students

Applying for Reinstatement or Change of Status

Option 1: Application for Reinstatement or a change of status

The application process for reinstatement to F-1 status requires a list of documents that need to be submitted along with Form I-539 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service (USCIS). A list of the necessary documents is detailed below:

Step 1: Download, print, and complete Form I-539.
Please note on Part 2, Question #1, Box ‘c’, write “Reinstatement of Student Status” and write the word “Reinstatement” in red on the upper right corner of the form.

Step 2: Pay the reinstatement fee.
There is a filing fee of $290 required to apply for reinstatement.  Payment can be made in the form of a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check.  Payments need to be paid to the order of the Department of Homeland Security.

Step 3: Compile the necessary documents.
Provide a new SEVIS I-20 signed by a Cowley DSO and the student (original only) with the reason of issuance being “Reinstatement Requested”.

  • Provide original I-94
  • Provide the SEVIS I-20 of any dependents, if applicable, signed by the Cowley DSO (original only)
  • Provide the I-94 of any dependents, if applicable, attached to the dependents I-20 (original only)
  • Write a clear and complete explanation detailing the circumstances surrounding the failure to maintain the obligations of your I-20 that led to the need for reinstatement.  The explanation should be typed and signed by the student so as to be legible and clearly understood.
  • Include a statement from a Cowley DSO, if desired, in support of your reinstatement efforts.
  • Include a copy of the identity page of your passport.  (copy will work)


In addition, provide a Cowley DSO with financial documentation (cannot be more than 6 months old).  You can use one of the following or a combination of:

  • original bank statement
  • original bank letter
  • letter and bank statement from sponsor


Step 4: Mail the documents
After all documents are compiled, it is the responsibility of the student, not the college, to mail the information to the USCIS service center.  Before mailing, make two copies of the packet; one for student, and one for the DSO who is working on your reinstatement. 

The service center address is listed below:

USCIS California Service Center
PO Box 10539
Laguna Niguel, CA  92607-1053

On the outside of the envelope, it is helpful to indicate on the words “Original Submissions I-539 Reinstatement” to the left of the address.

Step 5: During Reinstatement Waiting Period
While waiting for a Reinstatement decision, students must be enrolled full time at Cowley College. Students may not transfer during this waiting period and at any time that enrollment ceases or the student transfers, the Reinstatement request will be cancelled.

Then what?
The processing of a reinstatement request will take a good deal of time.  Expect between 30 – 90 days to receive a decision on your application.  The original documents you submitted (I-94 and I-20) will be returned to you along with the decision.

Option 2: Reinstatement through obtaining a new Visa

The process for obtaining a new F-1 visa is very similar to the process of obtaining the original visa. Students will need to contact a Cowley College DSO who will provide them with a new initial status I-20, at which point students will need to return to their country of origin and apply for a new visa. Be aware that there is a I-901 fee, set an appointment at the local US embassy, and interview with the consular section. Once approved, students will be able to reenter the United States and return.  In the event of a denial, students should be aware that they will be unable to enter the United Stated under an F-1 visa.

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