Extension of Stay for International Students in F-1 Visa Classification
This page will provide you with a basic understanding of (1) the limitations placed by U. S. immigration regulations on the length of time you may be enrolled in a program of study and (2) the procedures you must follow if you require additional time to complete program requirements. Consult with staff in the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) if you believe the time limitations placed upon your study are insufficient to allow you to complete your current program.
You have been admitted to the U. S. for "duration of status", which is defined as:
- The time during which you are pursuing a full course of study and making normal progress toward completing that program, plus
- The time you may be working in authorized "practical training" after you complete studies (if you qualify and are so authorized), plus
- 60 days to depart the country.
You were granted "duration of status" upon arrival at a U.S. port-of-entry. This was designated on your I-20 and I-94 by the letters "D/S".
Limitations on Duration of Status
The "completion of studies" date in Item #5 on your most recent SEVIS Form I-20 is the date by which you are expected to complete the requirements for your current program. If you are unable to do so by that date, consult with the OISS staff at least 30 days before reaching the I-20 completion date. If you are eligible for an extension of your time limit, the OISS staff will assist you in complying with extension requirements.
You may apply for an extension if:
- You expect to exceed the time limitation indicated on the "expected completion of studies date" in Item #5 on your I-20, and
- You have continuously maintained lawful F-1 status, and
- The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons (such as changes of major field or research topics, or unexpected research problems), or compelling and documented medical reasons. Delays in completing program requirements which are caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for extension of a program of study.
If your completion of studies date has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for program extension, you may need to apply for "reinstatement" to lawful F-1 status. In this case, immediate consultation with the OISS staff is necessary.
You must apply for an extension within the 30-day period before the completion date on your I-20. Contact the OISS at least 30 days before your I-20 completion date to give us sufficient time to prepare your application. Do not allow your I-20 to expire! There are serious implications for this violation.
Submit the following to the OISS:
- Memorandum or letter from your academic adviser. You must obtain a memorandum or letter from your academic adviser. It should (a) certify that you have been continuously enrolled for a full course of study, (b) recommend an extension of your study program, (c) provide a new date when you are expected to complete your studies and (d) indicate the reason(s) for a delay in your completion of program requirements.
- Updated financial support documents (assistantship or scholarship letter, bank letter) to cover the period of the extension.
The OISS will then issue you a new SEVIS I-20. You must keep this new document and all previous I-20 forms you have been issued. You will be asked to present them to an Immigration Officer on reentry when you travel outside the U. S. or whenever you apply for any future immigration benefits.
It is your responsibility to comply with all immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students, including the extension of program regulations discussed in this handout. The OISS staff will assist you in this application. If your I-20 completion of studies date will soon expire or if it has expired, you are urged to immediately contact our office. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible to continue (or to apply for) benefits provided to F-1 students. For example, you may not be eligible to continue any type of employment (even on-campus employment through a scholarship, fellowship or assistantship) or to apply for school transfer, practical training or other F-1 benefits.
Additional information on your permission to remain in the U. S. is available from the OISS. Our office can offer information, counseling and assistance on all federal regulations related to maintaining your student status.
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