Applying for a Program Extension

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An F or J student who is unable to complete their program of study by the date of completion listed in item no.5 on their I-20 or box no. 4 on their DS-2019 must apply for a program extension.  Program extensions can be given to students who have continually maintained status and who continue to make academic progress.  The following are acceptable delays that may cause a student to require an extension:

  • Changes of major or research topics
  • Unexpected research problems
  • Documented illnesses

Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.

The student should apply for the extension well in advance of the expiration of the immigration document.  An F-1 student who fails to extend the program completion date before the I-20 expires is out of status and must apply for reinstatement to student status.  If you are out of status, you are ineligible for any F-1 student benefits, such as employment and Optional Practical Training.

Please Note: It is the expiration date on the I-20 (F-1) or the DS-2019 (J-1) which determines the length of a student program.  (The expiration date of the entry visa sticker in the passport does not affect F/J student status.) 

Program Extension Checklist

  • Obtain a letter from the major professor or academic advisor verifying the reasons that the extension is needed and providing the anticipated completion date
  • Provide current proof of financial support for requested period of extension
  • Request a new I-20 form from the Buckman Center