What is a program extension?
A program extension is the process of obtaining a new I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students) to extend a student's authorized period of stay in the United States. A program extension is appropriate when a student is unable to complete the original study objective before the expiration date on the current I-20 or DS-2019. F-1 students, to review your program expiration date, please refer to section 5 of your I-20. J-1 students, to review your program expiration date, please refer to section 3 of your DS-2019.
Who is eligible for a program extension?
You are eligible for a program extension if you (1) have been enrolled full time throughout your period of studies (or have an approved Reduced Course Load request on file for each applicable semester), (2) have otherwise maintained your immigration status, and (3) the additional time is needed for academic or medical reasons.
Who is not eligible for program extension?
You are not eligible for an extension if you have been dismissed from the university. If you have been dismissed, you may want to discuss your options with an ISSS adviser. Nor are you eligible if you have ever been enrolled less than full-time and do not have a completed Reduced Course Load request on file with the ISSS. Nor are you eligible if you have completed all terms of your program of study and simply wish to delay graduation . Nor are you eligible if you are out of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in any way.
When should I seek a program extension?
The regulations require both F and J students to obtain extensions before the expiration date on their current I-20 or DS-2019. The best time period to apply for an extension is generally 1-3 months prior to the expiration of your document. Students who fail to obtain the extension before the I-20 or DS-2019 expires are considered "out of status" and must seek reinstatement. Reinstatement can require a long processing period, during which time a student cannot legally be employed, even on campus. Reinstatement may be difficult to obtain, even for simple reasons like “forgetting” that your I-20 or DS-2019 expired.
What are the consequences of failure to obtain a program extension?
If you forget the deadline and apply late, you will be “out of status”. If you are employed and overlook the date, you WILL be working “illegally” and may begin accruing “unlawful presence.” Such mistakes will jeopardize prospects for obtaining employment authorization, extensions of stay, and obtaining permanent resident status. They could even lead to being banned from entering the United States.
What is the procedure for obtaining a program extension?
Ideally, you should begin this process at least one month before your I-20 or DS-2019 expires (and preferably earlier than that)