F-1 students are admitted to the United States for “Duration of Status,” which means that they may remain in the US for the duration of their program as stated in item 5 of the I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student”, or get the program extended BEFORE it expires if the student needs additional time to complete the program.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 8 CFR 214.2(f)(7)(i)
Important Update (Spring 2019)
If your I-20 expires at the end of the Spring semester and you will not graduate in May, you must request an extension BEFORE the expiration date on the I-20 form. We are not permitted to extend an I-20 that has already expired.
You should plan well in advance, because you must complete forms, present financial documents, and receive a recommendation from your academic advisor before we can review your request.
If you fail to process your extension in a timely manner, you must travel and re-enter the US in initial status or apply for reinstatement—a lengthy and expensive process (cost is $370 and time is 9-12 months, sometimes longer).
We recommend that you submit your documents by Friday, April 12, 2019. Please meet with an OIPS advisor for questions.
Reasons for Program Extension Approval
To be granted a program extension, however, F-1 students must have continuously maintained F-1 status and “the delays must be caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extensions” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(iv)].
F-1 students must request an extension of stay at least 60 days before their I-20 expires. You can request your first extension online by completing the Program Extension Request Form. If you need a second or third extension, you must first meet with an OIPS advisor.
How to Request a Program Extension
You can request your first Program Extension in OIPS (document drop-off) or online. You will need to submit the following documents:
1. F-1 Program Extension form
2. Proof of funding originals that are less than six months old to finance the duration of your program
3. If your financial sponsor has changed since the last I-20 issued, submit a new Certificate of Financial Responsibility
4. Doctor’s note if extension is medically based