F-1 students are admitted to the United States for 'D/S' (duration of status), which is defined as the time necessary to complete an educational program (within limits) and any authorized practical training plus 60 days. To determine your duration of status, see the program completion date on your I-20.
An F-1 student who is currently maintaining status and making normal progress toward completing his or her educational objective, but who is unable to complete his or her course of study by the program end date on the Form I-20, must apply for an extension of stay prior to the program end date on his or her I-20.
An F-1 student may be granted an extension if the student has maintained status and shows that the completion delay has been caused by academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or documented illness. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions.
FAQs about Extensions
Click on a question to view its response:
No. I-20 extensions can only be approved and processed if the I-20 end date has not yet passed. Keep in mind that F-1 students do have a 60-day grace period after the I-20 end date in which to prepare for departure, begin a new academic program (chage of education level), transfer the I-20 to another school, or request authorization for OPT.
No. Extensions of stay are to extend an I-20 end date only. As long as you are admitted to the United States in F-1 status and continue to maintain valid status, it is not necessary to extend or re-apply for a visa. You will, however, not be able to leave the country and return in F-1 status with an expired F-1 visa.
Program Extension Process
At least 30 days prior to the end date on your Form I-20, submit a program extension request by clicking on the button at the bottom of this page. This request will require you to send an electronic recommendation request to an academic or faculty advisor for them to complete. Prior to requesting this recommendation from them, you should talk with them about your situation and ask them if they would be willing to support this recommendation for you. Once this recommendation is complete, your extension will be processed within 2 to 3 business days by an OIA advisor. If approved, you will be issued a new I-20 with a new program end date.