Navigating Options for F-1 Students with Terminated SEVIS Records

Navigating the complexities of maintaining F-1 student status can be challenging. A recent discussion highlighted two primary options for F-1 students whose SEVIS records have been terminated: traveling outside the United States to re-enter or applying for reinstatement. Each option has its pros and cons, depending on individual circumstances. This blog post delves into these options, helping students make informed decisions.

Traveling Outside the United States


  1. Quick Resolution: Traveling can provide a fast solution, allowing students to regain their F-1 status upon re-entry. This is particularly useful for students with valid visa stamps.
  2. Continued On-Campus Employment: Once back in the U.S., students can resume their on-campus jobs immediately.


  1. Visa Uncertainty: If the student lacks a visa, they must secure one from a U.S. embassy, which carries no guarantee of approval.
  2. OPT Eligibility: Re-entering on a new I-20 sets the student’s status to initial, affecting their eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for one academic year.
  3. Risk of Denial: There is always a risk that the port of entry officer may deny re-entry, leading to immediate return to the home country.

Applying for Reinstatement


  1. Maintains Presence in the U.S.: Students do not have to leave the country, which is beneficial for those who are apprehensive about traveling.
  2. OPT Consideration: This option is better for those nearing graduation and planning to apply for OPT.


  1. Lengthy Process: Reinstatement can take several months, often ranging from 4 to 12 months.
  2. Employment Restrictions: Students cannot work on campus while their reinstatement application is pending.
  3. Risk of Accruing Unlawful Presence: If the reinstatement is denied, the student will start accruing unlawful presence, potentially leading to a three-year bar from re-entering the U.S. if they overstay by more than six months.


Choosing between travel and reinstatement depends on individual circumstances. Key considerations include current visa status, OPT plans, and risk tolerance. Each option has significant implications, so weighing the pros and cons is crucial.

For personalized guidance and support through this process, contact NPZ Law Group at or call 201-670-0006.