A program extension is the process of obtaining a new I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students) to extend a student’s authorized period of stay in the United States. A program extension is appropriate when a student is unable to complete the original study objective at least 1 month before the expiration date on the current I-20 or DS-2019.
Download Program Extension Request Form.
Eligibility for Program Extension
You are eligible for a program extension:
- If you have been enrolled full time throughout your period of studies (or have authorized Reduced Course for each applicable semester)
- If you have otherwise maintained your immigration status,
- If you are making satisfactory academic progress,
- If additional time is needed for academic or medical reasons, and
- If you request the extension at least one month before the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019
You are not eligible for a program extension:
- If you have been dismissed from the university,
- If you have ever been enrolled less than full-time prior to receiving approval from your academic advisor and ISS,
- If you are not making satisfactory academic progress,
- If you have completed all terms of your program of study and simply wish to delay graduation,
- If you are out of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in any way, or
- If you make the request prior to the program end date on your SEVIS Record.
Timeliness is Key
The regulations require both F and J students to obtain extensions before the expiration date on their current I-20 or DS-2019. Students who fail to obtain the extension before the I-20 or DS-2019 expires are considered “out of status” and must seek reinstatement. Reinstatement can require a long processing period, during which time a student cannot legally be employed, even on campus.
Reinstatement may be difficult to obtain, even for simple reasons like “forgetting” that your I-20 or DS-2019 expired.
Consequences for failing to obtain a program extension
If you forget the deadline and apply late, you will be “out of status”. If you are employed and overlook the date, you WILL be working “illegally” and may begin accruing “unlawful presence.” Such mistakes will jeopardize prospects for obtaining employment authorization, extensions of stay, and obtaining permanent resident status. They could even lead to being banned from entering the United States.
Process for Obtaining a Program Extension
- Receive approval from your academic advisor
- At least one month before your I-20 or DS-2019 expires (and preferably earlier than that), meet with your academic advisor or department chair to complete the form below.
- Submit the following to the Office of International Services
- Program Extension Request Form completed by you and your academic advisor
- Updated financial documentation (issued within last 6 months), such as a bank statement, scholarship/sponsorship letter or offer letter for a graduate assistantship
- Receive updated I-20 or DS-2019 with new program end date
- You will know that your request has been processed when you have your new I-20 or DS-2019 in hand. Without your updated I-20 or DS-2019, you cannot assume your request has been complete.