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Program Extension


As an F-1 visa student, you are required to make normal academic progress towards completing your program. However, if your program end date (as it appears on your I-20) is approaching, but you will not finish by that date, you may need a Program Extension.

According to 8CFRSEC.214.2(f)(7), an F-1/F-2 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 prior to the program end date for a program extension.


You may be eligible for a program extension in the following instances:

Change in Academic Plan -- You have changed your major, minor, or research topic and need more time to complete the academic requirements
Unexpected Research Problems -- Due to circumstances beyond your control, you need more time to conduct necessary research for your academic program. Simply not completing your thesis or dissertation in a timely fashion is not an unexpected research problem.
Documented Illness -- You have obtained a Reduced Course Load (RCL) in the past for documented medical or psychological reasons, which has delayed your academic progress.
Other Compelling Academic Reasons -- Your academic progress has been delayed by some other circumstances beyond your control (e.g. advisor on sabbatical, course cancellation, limited course offerings, required internship participation, etc.). You and your academic advisor must be able to clearly explain these circumstances in the request forms.
You must apply prior to the program end date on your I-20

Special Considerations

Here are some additional considerations for Program Extension Requests:
  • You must have continually maintained your F-1 student status to be eligible for a program extension.
  • Delays caused by academic probation, suspension, or poor academic performance are not grounds for a program extension.
  • You are not eligible for a program extension in order to take additional courses that are not required by your program (including optional CPT).

Important Notes
  • If you fail to apply prior to the expiration date you will be considered out of status.
  • The extension will extend your I-20, but will not extend your visa.
  • You may remain in the US with an expired visa as long as your I-20 is valid.
  • If you travel out of the US you may need a new US Entry visa to re-enter.

You can complete the Program Extension Request in the Request Center of the ISSS Portal.