US federal Immigration regulations require that you finish your program of study by the completion date on your SEVIS I-20. If you will not graduate by that date, you must come into the International Student Service Center and apply for a program extension at least 30 days before the SEVIS I-20 will expire.
There is no fee to apply for a program extension, and no "waiting period" to hear from the USCIS once the necessary paperwork is submitted. The International Student Service Center will approve all program extension requests allowable by federal regulations, and notify SEVIS of your new completion date.
In order to obtain a program extension, you must show that you have continually maintained status and that the extension is needed for compelling academic or medical reasons, such as a change of major or research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness. Delays in completing your program caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension approval. If your completion of studies date has expired or you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, it will be necessary to file for reinstatement to F-1 status, for which the USCIS will charge a $300 fee. In addition, failure to apply for an extension of stay in a timely manner is a violation of F-1 regulations, which, under recent changes to immigration laws, can carry heavy penalties.
The following items are needed to process a program extension application:
* Request for an Extension of Program form
* Proof of financial support (please contact the international student advisor for the amount needed for the extra time to the completion of your studies)
Once your program extension application is complete, the International Student Service Center will prepare a SEVIS I-20 showing your new completion date, and notify the USCIS of the change.
Be sure to keep this new SEVIS I-20 and all previous SEVIS I-20 forms you have been issued. They must be submitted on request to an immigration officer when you travel outside the U.S., or to the International Student Service Center when applying for any benefits for which F-1 students are eligible.
Program extension FAQ's