International Student Services

Extending Your I-20 or DS-2019

COVID-19 Information for F & J Students: Current Updates and FAQs

Program End Dates and Extensions

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.

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. Federal regulations about extensions are strict; approval of an extension request is not guaranteed.

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.

F-1 Instructions

You must submit a complete online Program Extension form at least 1 week before your I-20 program end date.

  1. Consult with your academic department or advisor to ensure you have additional requirements left to complete your program at UW.
  2. Complete the online Program Extension request form
  3. Program Extension Request

  4. List the academic advisor’s information in the form. They will need to complete “part 2” of your application. Your academic advisor will be asked whether they support your program extension request. They will also need to confirm your expected degree completion date and the reason an I-20 extension is necessary.
  5. Allow 20 business days for ISS processing after your department adviser completes “part 2”
  6. Approval is not automatic; federal government regulations about extensions are strict. If approved, you will receive an email from ISS after your I-20 end date has been extended. Please staple your new I-20 on top of your previous documents.
  7. If you work on campus, contact your payroll coordinator to update your I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form.

J-1 Instructions

J-1 students: You must submit a complete the online Program Extension Request at least 15 business days before your DS-2019 program end date.

  1. Contact your UW academic adviser; be sure they have the necessary information to complete the adviser section of the application (knowledge of your academic progress and expected final quarter).
  2. Obtain updated financial documentation issued within the last six months. You will upload copies in the online form. The financial documentation must show enough funds to pay tuition and living expenses for the duration of your extension request.
  3. Complete the online Program Extension request form
  4. DS-2019 Program Extension Request

  5. Allow 20 business days for ISS processing.
  6. You will receive an email from ISS ( when your document is ready for pick up. Please staple your new DS-2019 on top of your previous documents.
  7. 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.