Program Extension (I-20 Extension)

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International Services

The Office of

Program Extension (I-20 Extension)

If you are unable to complete your degree reuqirements 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 fall out of lawful F-1 status and lose 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 Services 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 bring the following to the Office of International Services. You may request an extension at any time it becomes apparent that you will need one. However, you should request an extension at least fifteen (15) days before your I-20 expires.

  1. A letter from your academic advisor explaining, in detail, the compelling academic or medical reasons for your delay in completing your degree requirements. The letter should certify that the reasons for requiring more time are academically or medically related, and should specify a new estimated completion date.
  2. 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. 
  3. Current financial documents certifying availability of financial resources to meet your financial requirements.

Upon receiving the above documents, the OIS 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 OIS will update your F-1 records and provide you with a new I-20 with an updated expiration date.

If the OIS 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 completion of studies date on your I-20, you automatically lose your F-1 status and must apply for Reinstatement (see the information on 'Reinstatement' in this section of our web site).