J-1 students must apply for a program extension if they will not be able to complete their program by the end date on their DS-2019 form. The extension includes an explanation from the academic advisor and proof of funding to cover the additional time needed for themselves and their dependents. Examples of compelling academic or medical reasons:
- Change in major
- Change in research topic
- Unexpected research issues
- Original time granted not reasonable to complete academic program of study
- Documented illnesses
To be granted a program extension, J-1 students must have continuously maintained status. Per Federal Regulations, “Responsible officers may extend an exchange visitor's participation in the Exchange Visitor Program up to the limit of the permissible period of participation authorized for his or her specific program category.” [22 CFR 62.43(a)]
If approved for a program extension, you will receive a new DS-2019 form with an updated program end date. Please keep all old DS-2019 forms for your records. You can still be in status in the U.S. with an expired visa and an updated unexpired DS-2019 form. However, J-1 students will need to obtain a new visa to re-enter the U.S. if they are travelling internationally (with the exception of countries that are included in Automatic Revalidation). Please review our Travel and Re-entry information so that you understand re-entry requirements before you make plans to travel internationally.
The required proof of funding depends on your host department, level of study (undergraduate/graduate) and the length of your extension. Please check Mason's Certificate of Financial Responsibility for the latest figures (estimated costs on p. 2) and the Proof of Funding instructions to understand what proof of funding documents are acceptable.
When to Request a Program Extension
Your DS-2019 must be extended BEFORE your current DS-2019 expires.
- If you are a China 1-2-1 student: Please contact the China 121 Office first. You will need the OIPS Program Extension form and the China 121 Program Extension Form.
- If you are a Global Education Office Exchange student: please discuss your program extension with your assigned Program Officer.
- If you are a J-1 degree-seeking graduate student: meet with your academic advisor to request a program extension.
Do not wait until the last minute. The sooner you begin the extension process, the better! Please note that OIPS needs 7-10 business days to process your request.
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. J-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 DS-2019 issued, submit a new Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR)
4. Doctor’s note if extension is medically based
The J-1 Program Extension form is available in the OIPS Self-Service Center.