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.