The completion date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is an estimate. If you will not complete your program objective by that date, you must request an extension. The U.S. Immigration regulations require that I-20s and DS-2019s remain valid during the course of study.
F-1 students: You must contact International Student Services (ISS) before your I-20 expires by requesting a program extension if you will not finish your program by that date.
J-1 students: You must contact International Student Services (ISS) or your program sponsor before your DS-2019 expires and request a program extension.
You are eligible for a program extension if:
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 has not yet expired. The expiration date is indicated in item 5 of the I-20 and item 3 of the DS-2019.
- You have been continually maintaining lawful F-1 or J-1 status.
- The delay in completion of your program of study was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons.
Students in F-1 or J-1 status are required by law to comply with the regulations pertaining to their immigration status, including the program extension requirements discussed above. Failure to apply in a timely manner for a program extension is considered a violation of status and will disqualify you from benefits such as employment eligibility.
Program Extension Procedure
Complete the Program Extension Request Form
[J-1 students only: also complete the J-1 Insurance Requirement Statement of Compliance, and attach it to the completed Program Extension Form]
- Obtain updated financial documentation issued within the last six months.
Submit the completed Program Extension Request Form and financial documentation to ISS.
Email the documents to firstname.lastname@example.org or bring paper copies to the ISS front desk. [J-1 students: Write "J-1 Student: DS-2019 Extension Request" in the email subject line.]
[J-1 students only: also submit the Insurance Statement of Compliance.]
- Allow 7-10 business days for ISS processing.
- You will receive an email from ISS (email@example.com) when your document is ready for pick up. Please staple your new I-20 or DS-2019 on top of your previous documents.
- If you work on campus, contact your payroll coordinator to update your I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I apply for a program extension?
We recommend that you apply to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 up to three months before it expires.
Will I need a program extension if I change from a Bachelor's to a Master's program, or from a Master's to a PhD program?
ISS must issue a new I-20 or DS-2019 and notify Immigration if you change your level of study, change your major field of study, or if there is a change in the source of your financial support. These are separate procedures; you need to request a new I-20 or DS-2019 based on these changes.
What happens if I do not request the program extension before my current I-20 or DS-2019 expires?
Immigration regulations require you to process the program extension prior to the program end date noted on your current I-20 or DS-2019. If you fail to do so, you will be out of status. Contact your ISS adviser to discuss your situation and options.
I am in F-1 visa status. I finished my degree and was authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Do I still need to maintain a valid I-20?
Your I-20 remains valid even after your program completion if your ISS adviser has endorsed page 3 for OPT and you have submitted your OPT application to USCIS. Your SEVIS record remains active and you do not need to extend your I-20 to match the end date on your EAD card. You will still need a travel signature every six months if you plan to travel outside of the U.S. and will return to resume employment. A letter of employment is needed when you travel.
Is there a limit to how many program extensions I can request?
You may request multiple program extensions as long as they are for compelling academic or medical reasons and recommended by your academic adviser.