OPT Extension was rejected? SEVIS status is marked complete or forced to be, what can you do to stay in America legally? Today, we are offering you a step-to-step guide on how to reactivate your F1 status by arranging a day trip to Mexico.
The following content is based on a student’s real experience. When activating a new i-20, you can choose either Mexican or Canadian customs to do so. In this case, he went to Otay Mesa in Mexico, near the San Diego border.
Q: What do you have to prepare before you book your trip to Mexico?
A: First of all, a new I-20. Once your SEVIS is complete you can’t be a transfer student. If you want to keep your F1 status, you’ll need to find a school that can quickly issue you an initial i-20. This is where day 1 CPT universities come in handy. They have many enrollment windows every year and with some help, an expedited application only takes 1 day. If you are not in a rush, 2 weeks to 1 month is enough.
*Different day 1 CPT universities have different enrollment timelines and requirements. You can request a free consultation to find out more from our experts.
Q: what about a visa?
A: Exactly. You need to make sure you still have a valid F-1 Visa. My lawyer told me that although my SEVIS ID is not active anymore, as long as I have not stayed outside the U.S. for 5 months or more, my F1 visa should still be valid and can support a day trip to Mexico.
Q: Any other supporting documents?
A: Yes. I brought proof of attendance requirement with me just in case. If the program you’ve enrolled in only needs to take online courses, you might be stopped at the border, since you have no legit reason to study an online class in the U.S. Technically, if your program only has online courses, you should not be able to obtain a new I-20 in the first place. So, if you’ve already got an i-20, by default, USCIS has checked your attendance requirements. However, it is always better to be prepared than to be sorry. Therefore, I recommend you bring a syllabus or a class requirement with you to further prove you are a legit F1 student who will need to attend on-site classes.
Q: Which custom to go through?
A: I went to Otay Mesa, Mexica, near San Diego. If you live closer to the northern border and have a valid Canadian visa on your passport, it is easier to take a trip to Canada instead.
Q: What is your experience at Otay Messa
A: After arriving in San Diego, I take a taxi to Plaza Parking (Address: 2489 Roll Dr, San Diego, CA 92154). From there, it only takes 5 minutes to walk to the Otay Mesa customs. Then, I saw a statue, the iron mesh corridor as read in a post before, and the revolving iron gates. I told the officer that I came to activate my new i-20. She let me pass through without any questions. After walking for a while, I entered Mexico. It is super easy to get out of America but on the way back, there are some hiccups.
On the way back, the CBP (American Border Control) asked me some questions. It took nearly an hour, but most questions were revolving my i-94 records. They wondered why I had never left the U.S. during the past two years studying there. The main purpose is to determine if I have ever tried to stay longer than I was supposed to. There were also some questions regarding the new school and the new program I enrolled in. I was denied an OPT extension before. Therefore, my SEVIS ID was changed. That also raised a question. I simply answered all questions honestly and got a pass.
Then, they told me to pay a 6 dollar process fee. After I got the receipt, I was told to wait next to the “permit office”. I waited for nearly 3 hours before they started to process my case. The actual processing was super fast though. They renewed my record of fingerprints and printed out a new i-94 for me. My i-20 was activated automatically after I came back to the U.S.
The questions were reasonable, but the wait was long, though all was well in the end. I recommend you bring some protein bars with you. You may get stuck for quite a while, and not be able to have lunch or even dinner.
Hope this sharing can help you. If you have more questions regarding SEVIS reinstatement, you can schedule a free consultation with our experts.