A student who has stayed beyond the authorized program completion date on his/her I-20 form or otherwise violated his/her immigration status (see Maintaining Legal F-1/J-1 Status) must apply for reinstatement. The reinstatement is adjudicated by USCIS. The procedure may take 2-3 months, but sometimes it can take longer.
In the application you must explain the circumstances of the violation and show intent to follow USCIS regulations in the future. It is also essential to prove that you did not engage in unauthorized employment. If/when the application is approved, USCIS will return the I-20 form with an "Approved" stamp and issue a new I-94 card or note the fact of reinstatement on the back of the old I-94 card. If the reinstatement request is denied, you must leave the U.S. by the voluntary departure date issued by USCIS.
Reinstatement Status Checklist for F-1 Students
Students waiting for reinstatement are not eligible to work or take advantage of other benefits associated with F-1 status until the reinstatement request is approved. Although International Graduate Student Services is not required to read or verify information in your application, we will be happy to review the completed packet with you.