Successful F-1 Academic Student Visa Reinstatement 

•           Petitioner: Mr. Wong

•           Occupation: Student

•           Nationality: Chinese

•           Applying for: Reinstatement of F-1 Academic Student Visa {Form I-539}

•           Challenges:

⁃              Nearly five months between notification of termination and his application for reinstatement

⁃              Did not attend school for three quarters

⁃              Did not have a stable income to support himself

⁃              Reason for termination was because of a failure to take a test

 

Important tests are often the biggest cause of stress among university students. So much so, in fact, that they can become the stuff of nightmares. Just about everyone knows the fear of possibly missing an important test, one that would submarine your grade or semester.

 

For our client, a missed test meant much, much more. Mr. Wong* was a student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), when, on November 14, 2014, he received a notice from the school; he had missed a written test, one that he had not been notified about due to a procedural error, and as a result his student status with the school had been revoked. Because of this, his F-1 visa was also revoked. When Mr. Wong came to us, he was distraught. It was a low point, one many in his situation find themselves in. Honest mistakes by international students often have catastrophic consequences, and this was no different. He needed help, help many firms are unwilling or unable to give. However, we believed strongly in his case and took it on.

“I always feel for university students. I was an international student myself for many years of my life. I totally understand the situation they are in. Things are very complicated, mistakes happen, and the consequences of {those mistakes} are beyond severe… I just try to help them out, I try to be there for them.” - Joseph Tsang, Managing Attorney

Keys to Success

We assisted Mr. Wong in filing an I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status on April 4, 2015, proving that:

1.          The termination of Mr. Wong’s student status was out of his control

2.          Mr. Wong planned to pursue a full course load of classes

3.          Mr. Wong had not been engaged in any unauthorized employment

4.          Mr. Wong had no grounds for deportation

 

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations, a student has to apply for reinstatement within five months of being notified of the termination of their student status, meaning we had to move quickly to make the deadline. Ultimately, we helped Mr. Wong file a full ten days ahead of the deadline. The first hurdle in the case was one of the largest, as we had to prove that the termination of Mr. Wong’s student status was out of his control. Usually, USCIS likes to see definitive proof along the lines of natural disaster or severe illness as one of the causes. Mr. Wong’s set of circumstances was unusual and difficult, but our team was not deterred. We were able to show, through a personal affidavit by Mr. Wong, that he missed the examination due to a procedural error by the university, and that if he had been informed of the test, he would not have missed it.

The next challenge involved proving Mr. Wong wanted to be a full-time student again. In an effort to show that was indeed his goal, we presented the fact that he had recently completed the test for which his visa was originally terminated and that he had applied for readmission to the university and had been accepted for reinstatement in March. He had even enrolled in summer classes and received a Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status from UCSD. We also provided him a sample affidavit, explaining his intent to continue studying.

The final hurdle was proving that in his time without student status, Mr. Wong hadn’t engaged in any unauthorized employment. This was a concern, given the length of time Mr. Wong had needed to sustain himself without his student status. Working with Mr. Wong, we brought forth his financial statements, which indicated that he had sufficient funds to sustain himself during that time. We showed that his bank statements proved that his mother had provided enough money for him to survive during that time. He had not committed any employment violations, and the final piece of the puzzle seemed to have fallen into place.

However, the saga did not end when we submitted his application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. We received a request for Evidence (RFE) on September 22, 2015, asking for a letter from a school official detailing the circumstances around the procedural error that caused the issue in the first place, as well as for more information on his ability to pay for school and living expenses during his time here. Often times, schools can be unwilling to admit, especially in writing, any wrongdoing whatsoever. As such, a letter from a school can be one of the most difficult pieces of material to obtain, and it is here where a good negotiator and lawyer can drastically help someone in this position, and it was here where we were again able to help Mr. Wong. Very few firms want to deal in this kind of work, but it is something that we have been successful at time and again.

We were able to negotiate with the school to make sure that they could provide a letter without getting into legal trouble themselves but one that would still satisfy the requirements of the USCIS. We were also able to compose a statement for Mr. Wong’s mother, which stated that she provided around 19,000 dollars for Mr. Wong, which was intended to pay the costs of the school, living expenses, and unforeseen costs. All of this came together quickly, and for Mr. Wong, easily, and we submitted our response in October.

Outcome

On January 27, 2016, seven months after our original submission, Mr. Wong was approved for his F-1 reinstatement. Instead of a setback that would have seen him forced away from the United States, Mr. Wong was back in class with his peers and friends, back on track to a bright future.

 

*Name has been changed to protect client identity.