Program Extension Regulations
Duration of Status (D/S) is defined as – (a) the time during which an international student is actively pursuing a full course of study and making satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree, or – (b) the period in which the international student is engaging in authorized practical or academic training (plus the designated number of days the student is provided to prepare for and depart the U.S.). If the student is unable to complete the program of study by the date of completion listed on the Certificate of Eligibility (Item #5 on the I-20), the student must apply for a “Program Extension”.
There is no fee to apply for a program extension, and no “waiting period” to hear from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) once the required paperwork is submitted.
If you are an F-1 student and need a program extension you must apply within the 30-day period before the expiration date on your Form I-20.
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 the completion of studies date has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a program extension, you may need to apply to USCIS for reinstatement to lawful F-1 status, if eligible. Serious consequences, including deportation and/or being barred from re-entering the U.S., may result from lengthy or willful overstays.
Program Extension Application Process
- Program of Study – Completion Form (this form must be completed by the appropriate faculty member in your department)
- Proof of Financial Support: You must present the required funding information for the remainder of program (either in the form of a current bank statement certifying the required funds on deposit or an assistantship award letter).
- Completion of Form I-538 provided by the PDSO/DSO in the Office of the Registrar.
Once your program extension application is complete, the PDSO/DSO in the Office of the Registrar will prepare the appropriate Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20) showing your new completion date, and notify USCIS Exchange Visitor Program of the change.
The PDSO/DSO in the Office of the Registrar will assist F-1 students in applying for reinstatement to legal student status if certain qualifications are met for the petition. The PDSO/DSO in the Office of the Registrar does not have the approval authority, and all petitions are submitted to the USCIS through SEVIS for review, adjudication and final decision. The applicant will be informed of the final decision. The “Out of Status Student” may apply to the USCIS for reinstatement if at least one of the following reasons applies:
- The student has not been out of status for more than five (5) months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the five (5) month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible under these exceptional circumstances).
- The student does not have a record of repeated or willful violations of service regulations.
- The student is currently pursuing, or intending to pursue, a full course of study in the immediate future at the school which issued the form I-20.
- The student has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
- The student is not deportable on any grounds other than those specified by USCIS.
- The student has established to the satisfaction of the Service, by a detailed showing, either
- The violation of status resulted from circumstances beyond the student’s control. Such circumstances might include serious injury or illness, closure of the institution, a natural disaster, or inadvertence, oversight, or neglect on the part of the PDSO/DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or were a willful failure on the part of the student resulting in the need for reinstatement; or,
- The violation relates to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have
been within a PDSO/DSO’s power to authorize, and that failure to approve reinstatement
would result in extreme hardship to the student.
If the USCIS does not approve the reinstatement request, the student may not appeal that decision and should prepare to depart the United States.