Program Extension

Your initial BU immigration document was based on the anticipated dates of your program or affiliation at the University. Your anticipated completion date can change for many reasons—students may change majors or programs, or research can take unexpected (yet exciting) turns. This is normal in academia. If you need additional time to complete your studies or affiliation at BU, the ISSO can advise you on your options and the required paperwork.

Your Program Completion/End Date

If you are in F or J status, your most recent US entry stamp will be noted with “D/S” (duration of status), as your program limits are determined by the dates of your designated program at BU. Therefore, you will also need your immigration document to determine your current program completion date:

  • The F-1 expected program completion date can be found in item #5 of your Form I-20, just after the phrase “and complete studies no later than”.
  • The J-1 expected program end date can be found in Section 3 of your Form DS-2019, where the beginning and ending dates of your exchange visitor program are noted.

Note: Failure to extend your immigration status prior to the designated completion date is considered a violation of that status.

If you will be unable to complete your program prior to the date indicated on your immigration document, you will need to contact the ISSO at least one month before your current document’s completion date to request a program extension. Important:  If you do not request a program extension prior to the end date of your current document, this can affect your legal status in the US.

To request a program extension, please review the Program Extension Checklist below and complete and compile all required information, including:

  • Program Extension Checklist and Academic Advisor’s Recommendation for Program Extension Form—must be completed and signed by your academic advisor.
  • Proof of sufficient funds—must document adequate funds to meet the tuition, fees, and cost-of-living expenses for the extension period you are requesting, or for one academic year (two semesters), whichever is shorter. If the funding is your own, you need only submit a bank letter or statement verifying funds. If you are sponsored (e.g., by your parents), your sponsor will need to provide their bank documentation, plus a Sponsorship Certification Form or letter of financial support that verifies they will provide funding for your tuition/fees and living expenses while you are at Boston University. All financial documents must be originals, signed and dated, written in English, and show currency amounts listed in US dollars.
  • For second and subsequent requests only, letter from department chair—must outline the compelling academic reasons that caused the delay and explaining how you are making normal progress toward degree completion.

Once you have compiled the required documentation, bring the application packet to the ISSO along with your original immigration documents (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) and your passport. Allow for 10 business days of processing time.

Your ISSO advisor will review the application materials and determine whether or not you are eligible for the requested program extension. If you are eligible*, a new immigration document will be issued for you and any dependents in F-2/J-2 status.

*Completion delay caused solely by academic probation or suspension is not an acceptable reason for a program extension.


Advance planning is key to ensuring that there will be no gaps in your employment, research, or teaching at BU.

The ISSO will send reminders to your sponsoring department starting at six months before the expiration of your current appointment/document, inquiring about the status of your continued BU affiliation. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to keep track of your documents and request extensions. Therefore, we recommend that you initiate discussions with your sponsoring department approximately six months prior to the end date listed on your current immigration document.

Upon confirmation of your continued appointment, you will work with your sponsoring department to complete the appropriate processing paperwork based on your immigration status request.

If you have met the maximum time allowance for your current immigration classification, a change to another immigration status may be possible should you qualify. In such cases the ISSO will advise you and your sponsoring department on options for proceeding with continued employment.


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