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F-1 Program Extension Requirements

If your Form I-20 will expire before you are able to complete your degree requirements, you will need to apply for a program extension (I-20 extension). The International Center can extend your I-20 only if you have compelling academic or medical reasons that delayed your ability to complete within the time indicated on your current I-20. Extremely important: You must submit your I-20 extension request to the International Center BEFORE your I-20 expires. 

Check Your I-20 Expiration Date

Your I-20 expiration date is the "Program End Date" printed on Page 1 of your I-20. Keep track of your I-20 expiration date - it is your responsibility to ask for more time if you will not finish your program by the date indicated on your I-20.

I-20 Extension Eligibility

The International Center can extend your I-20 only if your program completion was delayed due to compelling academic or medical reasons. Acceptable reasons include:

  • Delays due to a change of major
  • Delays due to a change in thesis or dissertation research topics
  • Delays due to unexpected thesis or dissertation research problems
  • Delays to documented medical illness
  • Delays due to previously-approved leaves of absence (semesters outside the US due to family or other reasons)
  • Other delays due to academically or medically compelling reasons

In order to qualify for an extension, you must still have additional required courses to take and/or you need additional time to complete a required thesis, dissertation, or integrative project. Your I-20 cannot be extended if your only reasons for requesting more time are the following:

  • to take extra courses that are not required for your degree
  • to finish outstanding incompletes for courses already taken
  • to continue your on-campus job
  • to take graduate school or professional exams
  • to search for jobs or internships

These reasons are not considered essential to the completion of degree requirements and cannot be used as the basis for an I-20 extension.

When to Apply for an Extension

In order to ensure that your extension request is approved in a timely manner, meet with an International Center advisor at least ONE month before your I-20 expires.

Earliest date to request an extension: You can make an I-20 extension request at any time it becomes clear that you will need more time to complete your program requirements. The International Center recommends that you meet with an advisor early in the semester before your I-20 expires.

Last date to request an extension: You MUST submit a request to the International Center BEFORE your I-20 expires. Once your I-20 expires, it cannot be extended and you may be required to depart the US.

Off-Campus Employment Engagement in the Extended Duration (Fletcher Students)

If your program extension is solely based on the Capstone (thesis) or Ph.D. dissertation extension, you are not eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  However, you may work on-campus (up to 20 hours/week during the semester).

I-20 Extension Request Procedure