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 Office of International Programs 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. 

Keep track of 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 Office of International Programs 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 or dissertation. 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 the Office of International Programs at least ONE month before your I-20 expires. 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.