Violations of Status
Students and scholars who have violated immigration regulation are considered to be “out of status” and will need to take steps to rectify the situation. If you think you may be out of status, please contact your ISSO advisor immediately so that your situation can be evaluated and next steps can be determined.
What Happens After a Violation of Status?
If you think you are out of status, please contact an experienced immigration attorney and your ISSO advisor immediately so that your situation can be evaluated to determine what options, if any, may be available for you to regain legal status.
For F-1 students
When a violation of status occurs, DHS regulations require Boston University to report that violation in SEVIS within 21 days of the occurrence by terminating the SEVIS record. Once a violation is reported to the ISSO, you should speak to your ISSO Advisor right away about what to expect. There could be some different options for you to take before your advisor is obligated to terminate your SEVIS record at the 21-day mark so the sooner you address the violation with the advisor, the better. The ISSO will often refer you to a knowledgeable immigration advisor.
Common examples of violations of F-1 status that result in the termination of a SEVIS record include, but are not limited to:
- Unauthorized withdrawal from classes.
- Unauthorized drop below full course of study.
- Unauthorized employment, either beginning employment without the proper authorization or exceeding the maximum 20 number of hours of allowable on-campus employment.
- Suspension or dismissal.
- Failure to enroll in classes.
- Failure to extend prior to the program end date.
As F-1 Designated School Officials (DSOs), your ISSO advisors are charged by Boston University to determine whether you are considered to be maintaining lawful F-1 status and to update your SEVIS record in accordance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation.
If you are considered to be ‘out of status’ you will not be eligible for any F-1 benefits (including participating in on-campus or off-campus employment, CPT, OPT, receiving certain types of service-based scholarship aid, extension of status, or receiving an I-20 signature for travel). In addition, you may not be eligible to apply for a change of status from USCIS.
There are two options for regaining your F-1 status, as follows:
- You may be eligible to apply to USCIS or F-1 reinstatement, if you do not have a record of repeated or willful violations, have not worked illegally and have been out of status for less than five months. In order to do this, you will need to establish that the status violation resulted from circumstances beyond your control or that it is related to a reduced course load that would have been the ISSO’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve the reinstatement will result in extreme hardship. If you choose to apply for reinstatement, you will need to submit a formal application, with the assistance of your ISSO advisor. If approved, your violation will be forgiven and you will be eligible to apply for or resume any F-1 benefits for which you qualify (including employment and travel). If it is not approved, you will be required to depart the U.S. within a period of time specified by USCIS. USCIS is currently taking 12-16 months to adjudicate reinstatements so this is only an option if you have sufficient time left in your program of study.
- Request a new I-20 from the ISSO to travel outside the U.S.. Apply for a new F-1 visa (if required) and re-enter to begin a new F-1 status. This method is often necessary for students who do not have time to apply for reinstatement or, students already out of the U.S. but cannot re-enter on their current I-20. Note that although you will be considered in valid F-1 status after re-entry, this option is not the same as reinstatement and does not forgive your past violation(s). Therefore, you will not be eligible for off-campus employment CPT or OPT until after you have maintained a full course of study for one full academic year after regaining your F-1 status.
For J-1 Exchange Visitors
As Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (AROs) for Boston University’s J-1 Exchange Visitor program, your ISSO advisors are charged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Status (DOS) with determining whether you are considered to be maintaining lawful J-1 status. If the ISSO determines that you are not maintaining lawful status, your J-1 immigration record will be terminated in SEVIS and you will need to take action to regain lawful status.
If you are considered to be ‘out of status’ you will not be eligible for any J-1 benefits (including participating in on-campus or off-campus employment, receiving certain types of service-based scholarship aid, extension of status, or receiving an DS-2019 signature for travel). In addition, you may not be eligible to apply for certain benefits from the USCIS (including U.S. employment authorization or a change of immigration status).
Please make an appointment with your ISSO advisor to discuss the circumstances of your case. Your options may include corrections to your record or an application for reinstatement.
It is important to note that applications for reinstatement to J-1 status are NOT allowed if you have:
- Knowingly or willfully failed to obtain or maintain the required health insurance at all times while on your J-1 program;
- Engaged in unauthorized employment that is not normally approvable for J students or scholars;
- Been suspended or terminated from your most recent exchange visitor program;
- Failed to maintain valid program status for more than 270 days; or
- Received a favorable recommendation from the DOS on an application for a waiver of the 2-year home country physical presence requirement.
If you cannot be reinstated, you will unfortunately not be permitted to continue in your J-1 program at BU.
Other immigration classifications
There are no provisions allowing for reinstatement of status for individuals in immigration classifications other that F-1 or J-1. Therefore, if you have violated the terms of your status and are considered to be ‘out of status’, we recommend that you speak with your ISSO advisor and/or an immigration attorney as soon as possible to strategize a legal solution.