F-1 And J-1 Student Program Extension Procedures

A student is eligible for a program extension if it is established that the delay in completing the program requirements has been caused by a compelling academic reason (such as changes in major field of study, research topic or unexpected research problems) or documented medical reasons.

When is a program extension necessary?

  • For students in F-1 status: a program extension is necessary if you plan on studying past the date in item #5, of your current Form I-20. Please see the date contained in the blank, "…complete studies not later than __."
  • For students in J-1 status: a program extension is necessary if you plan on studying past the program end date in item #3 of your Form DS-2019.

The end date listed on either Form I-20 or DS-2019 is considered the "expiration" date of your immigration status. If you do not apply for a program extension and you remain in the U.S., you will be considered to be in violation of your immigration status.

How to apply

Submit the following documentation to OIS at least 30 to 60 days prior to the expiration of your status:

  1. Obtain a letter recommending a program extension from your Academic Advisor (see sample letter below).
  2. Gather financial documents to show that you can support yourself (and any dependents) for the entire period of the extension. OIS requires original copies of financial documents, which are not more than six months old. Financial documentation might include one or more of the following:
    • Bank statement
    • Bank letter
    • Affidavit from sponsor
    • Proof of assistantship and/or tuition waiver
  3. Complete the Student Request Form indicating a Program Extension.

The following is a summary of account types we do accept: All summary of account statements must be valid no later than six months upon receipt and must be signed and/or stamped by a bank official.

  • Savings Accounts: all forms of savings accounts will be accepted, including demand deposit, current accounts and money market.
  • Checking Accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit
  • Fixed Deposits, Fixed Term Certificate of Deposits, Bonds, Time Deposits and Term Deposits: the maturity date or value date must be clearly listed and be before the first day of the semester.
  • Provident Funds: the amount available for withdrawal must be stated in the letter
  • Education Loans: it must be evident that the person is pre-approved or approved for the loan
  • Scholarship Award Letters: must clearly state what the scholarship includes, such as tuition, fees and books. If the scholarship includes a stipend, it must state the dollar amount per month.

The following is a summary of account types we do not accept:

  • Retirement Funds
  • Insurance Policies
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Business Accounts
  • Stock Market Funds, including mutual funds, equity funds/account, and yield funds
  • Demat Accounts: are used for the trade of stocks, securities and debentures
  • Chartered Accounts: are statements from accountants
  • Salary Statements
  • Solvency Certificate: is a summary of all assets including bank accounts, CD deposits, bonds, property, salary, etc.

Additional information

  • Extensions may only be requested for a maxmium of one year at a time.
  • New/extended end date: The new immigration document will show that your program has been extended to a date that was based on the completion date stated by your Academic Advisor. Keep in mind that if you complete your program of studies before the new expiration date listed on your form, then your grace period (if eligible) will begin from your program completion date, not the date listed on the extended I-20/DS-2019. By the end date of your grace period, you have the following options:
    1. leave the country
    2. apply for work authorization
    3. transfer to a new academic program/institution
    4. change immigration status
    5. in some other way maintain your legal status in the U.S.
  • Grace periods: Immigration allows a grace period for international students who have maintained their status during their program. This is considered to be time for you to prepare for your departure from the U.S. This grace period begins the day you complete your program of study. F-1s receive 60 days and J-1s receive 30 days.

Sample Advisor Letter for a Program Extension

(The letter must be on department letterhead.)

Governors State University
Name of Department, Room Number
1 University Parkway
University Park, IL 60484

TO: Office of International Services
1 University Parkway, GMT 168
University Parkway, IL 60484

I am writing to recommend a program extension for (Student). (Student) is a student in the (Department) department pursuing
a (BA/MS/Ph.D./etc.) degree and is expected to complete all degree requirements on (Date). Due to (Extension Reason),
(Student) will require additional time to complete her/his program of study.



Note to Academic Advisor

  1. Please give the most accurate completion date possible. This will be used for the student's official immigration document.
  2. Please explain in detail the reason for the extension. Only certain academic and medical reasons are acceptable according to U.S. federal regulations.
  3. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for an extension according to U.S. federal regulations.