Program Extension for F-1 Students

A Program Extension is required if you are unable to complete all of your degree requirements by the date listed in Item 5 of your SEVIS I-20.

This Program Extension application must be submitted to and approved by ISSS before the I-20 expiration date. Failure to process a Program Extension before the expiration of the I-20 results in the loss of legal status and the ability to work on campus.

Students are not eligible for full-time Curricular Practical Training after a Program Extension has been processed.

A student who has entered a new degree program but failed to obtain a new I-20 reflecting the new program should have a new I-20 processed at ISSS. This is generally not considered a Program Extension.

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  • You must be in legal F-1 status.
  • Your I-20 must reflect your current program of study.
  • You must possess a valid passport.
  • Delays in completion must be caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as:
    • Changes of major or research topics.
    • Unexpected research problems.
    • Documented illness.
  • Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a Program Extension.
  • If you have been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training and/or Optional Practical Training, you are not eligible for a Program Extension.

If you are unsure of your eligibility for a Program Extension, consult with an ISSS advisor during scheduled Walk-In Hours or a scheduled appointment.

If you are not eligible for a Program Extension, you should make every effort to complete your program of study before your I-20 expires. If you fail to complete your program, you will lose your legal status and need to 1) file for Reinstatement with the Department of Homeland Security, if eligible, or 2) to make a new entry into the U.S. with an “initial attendance” I-20. This will result in you losing eligibility for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training and/or Curricular Practical Training. You should consult with an ISSS advisor regarding your options.


  • Academic reason for program extension
    • Obtain a letter from your academic advisor that contains the following information:
      • A detailed reason for the delay in completion
      • Where you currently are in your program
      • When you will be expected to complete all degree requirements
  • Medical reason for program extension
    • Obtain letter from physician verifying:
      • Illness prohibited you from completing your program by the original I-20 end date
      • Dates of illness

Approval Process

Submit the documentation noted under “Application” to an ISSS advisor during scheduled Walk-In Hours or during a scheduled appointment. Please note: You will need to submit to ISSS  the original copies of your academic advisor’s letter and/or your physician’s letter.

An ISSS advisor will review the application. If the ISSS advisor does not feel the academic advisor’s letter meets with DHS regulations, you will be asked to obtain another letter.

If your Program Extension is approved, you will ISSS will issue you a new I-20 that reflects a new completion date. You will receive an email when the new I-20 is ready for pick up.

If your Program Extension is denied, you will need to apply to the DHS for Reinstatement of Legal Status or re-enter the U.S. with an “Initial Attendance” I-20.

Students on University Payroll

A new Form I-9 must be completed by University Payroll. Bring your passport, I-94, and new I-20. Salary will be withheld until the new I-9 is processed.

Last updated: June 18, 2021