Program Extension (I-20 Extension)

Program Extension (I-20 Extension)

If you are unable to complete your degree requirements by the completion date specified on your I-20 (item #5), you must apply for a program extension at least 15 days before but no later than the completion date indicated on the I-20. You may lose your F-1 status and all F-1 benefits if:

  • You fail to apply for a program extension before your I-20 expires, even if you have valid reasons for an extension; or
  • You apply for a program extension in a timely manner, but do not meet the requirements for an extension. 

Eligibility Requirements

F-1 regulations strictly limit when and under what circumstances the Office of International Students and Scholars may grant a program extension. An extension may be granted only if you have continually maintained full-time student status and if the delay in completing your degree is the result of "compelling academic or medical reasons." Examples of compelling academic reasons for requiring more time are:

  • change of major/research topic
  • change or absence of faculty advisor
  • problems with data collection or research methodology

The following are not considered acceptable reasons for a program extension:

  • you need to retake courses for which you received unsatisfactory grades
  • you need additional time to make up 'incomplete' courses
  • you failed to work closely or consult with academic advisors
  • you have not made full-time effort at meeting your degree requirements, due to personal, financial, or employment-related reasons


In order to request a program extension, you will need to submit the following to the Office of International Students and Scholars:

  1. A financial plan detailing how many credits (if any) remain to be completed, and your estimated personal financial requirements (housing, insurance, food, books, transportation, and living expenses) for at least one year. 
  2. Current financial documents certifying availability of financial resources to meet your financial requirements.
  3. Application for Extension of I-20

Applications for extension of program must be submitted no less than 2 weeks prior to the expiration of your current I-20. Upon receiving the above documents, the OISS will review your eligibility for a program extension. If your request is approved, an extension for a maximum of one year will be granted. The OISS will update your F-1 records and provide you with a new I-20 with an updated expiration date.

If the OISS determines that you are not eligible for a program extension under F-1 provisions, or if you do not apply for a program extension before the expiration date on your I-20, you automatically lose your F-1 status and must apply for Reinstatement of Status. 

Back to skip to quick links