On August 9, 2018 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised final policy memorandum (PDF, 129 KB) related to unlawful presence for F, M, J status holders after considering feedback received during a 30-day public comment period that ended June 11, 2018.
Under the revised final policy memorandum, effective August 9, 2018, F and M nonimmigrants who fall out of status and timely file for reinstatement of that status will have their accrual of unlawful presence suspended while their application is pending.
In other words, for purposes of counting unlawful presence, a timely reinstatement application for F or M status is one where the student has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing. Under the revised final policy memorandum, the accrual of unlawful presence is suspended when the F or M nonimmigrant files a reinstatement application within the five month window and while the application is pending with USCIS.
The revised final memorandum supersedes the previous policy memo issued May 10, 2018 and describes the rules for counting unlawful presence for F and M nonimmigrants with timely-filed or approved reinstatement applications, as well as for J nonimmigrants who were reinstated by the Department of States.