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Extension of Your I-20

Definitions

Extension. Students must complete their studies by the program end date listed on the I-20 (item #5, p.1). If you need additional time to complete your program, you must request an extension. Extensions must be requested in a timely fashion and are granted under limited circumstances only. Once past the program end date, the student is in a grace period (see below). Note: An extension applies only to your I-20, not your visa. If your visa has expired, you should renew at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country the next time you travel.

Grace period. F-1 students may remain in the U.S. for 60 days following the completion of their final degree requirement (the date of graduation in the relevant term). During the 60 day grace period:

  • You may not apply for admission to the U.S. in F-1 status
  • You may not apply for a program extension.
  • You may not work or study.

Visa. A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the U.S. generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler's passport. The visa has no bearing on your ability to the stay in the U.S.; its only use is for entry into the U.S. After you enter the U.S., maintenance of your status determines your ability to stay.

Status. Your status is the official U.S. government designation and authorization of your stay in the U.S. as a non-immigrant student.

SEVIS. SEVIS is a web-accessible database that collects, tracks, and monitors information regarding exchange visitors, international students and scholars who enter the U.S. on F, M or J visas. SEVIS is managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Documents To Be Submitted
  • Request for Extension Form
  • Financial documentation. Financial documents cannot be more than six months old.

Eligibility

In order to obtain a program extension, you must show that you have continually maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as a change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension. You may be eligible for an I-20 extension if the following criteria are met:

  1. The delay is caused by documented academic or medical circumstances,
  2. You have sufficient financial resources to fund your studies and living expenses, and
  3. The extension is requested in a timely manner, with sufficient time for processing before the current expiration.

 The following are not valid reasons for I-20 extensions:

  • To enroll in extra courses for personal/academic interest or to improve one’s GPA
  • To engage in research on or off-campus
  • To finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade
  • To repeat a course for a better grade
  • To engage in non-required Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • To enroll in course work delayed by participation in CPT

An I-20 which has already passed the program end date cannot be extended.

Process

Submit the Request for Extension Form and financial documentation at least 30 days (but no more than 60 days) before the program end date.

You will be notified by e-mail when this process is complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am student sponsored by my government. Do I need to submit a new letter of financial guarantee to extend my I-20?

Probably. If your current financial guarantee does not cover the period for which you are requesting an extension, then yes.

I did not submit my Request for Extension Form in the recommended time frame. Will my extension be denied?

Program end dates often align with the end of terms, which is a busy time for ISSS and other offices. Due to avoid a delay in the processing or your request, we recommend submitting your paperwork documentation at least 30 days (but no more than 60 days) before the program end date listed on your I-20 to avoid peak processing times. Requests submitted outside of this time frame are not guaranteed to be processed in time.