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  • Writer's pictureMauricio Torres Sanchez

What can you do if your Form I-20 is terminated?


The Form I-20 is a document issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to SEVP-certified schools (Student and Exchange Visitor Program), especially for students and exchange students who are eligible for F-1 or M-1 status. Once a student has verified their eligibility and enrolled in the school they intend to study at, the school will be responsible for sending the Form I-20. This Form is extremely important because it proves that the student has been admitted to a certified school or university in the United States, so it also proves the validity of the student’s legal status.


The validity period printed on a Form I-20 is predetermined by the course of study and, if the student does not attend classes or has issues with complying with school policies, their I-20 may be terminated. If an I-20 is terminated, the student would consequently lose their status.


Now, what can you as an F-1 student if your I-20 is canceled? There are two ways to solve your problem:

  • You could consider leaving the U.S. and returning with a new and active I-20; or

  • You may submit an application for Reinstatement of your student status using Form I-539 and filing it with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is a possibility if you are still in the United States, but you are required to file this no later than 150 days from the date your I-20 is terminated.

You may apply for a Reinstatement if you can prove that the termination of your I-20 was due to unexpected circumstances. For example, absences due to illness, natural disasters or any other atypical situations.


In a Reinstatement application, you are also required to prove that you are eligible for reinstatement and must meet the following requirements:

  • Not be deportable.

  • Not work or have worked in the U.S. without authorization.

  • You intend to attend a certified school and that school has issued you a new Form I-20 with a reinstatement endorsement.

  • You have no other history of violating your status.

  • You have not been out of status for more than 5 months.

If this is your situation or if you have any other questions regarding your F-1 status or your Form I-20 and you do not know how to proceed, schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We understand the many issues involved and are ready to help you navigate your options and the best way to move forward.


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