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Program Extension for F-1 Students

As an F-1 student, you have been admitted into the United States for "duration of status," which is noted on your I-94 Departure Record (the little white card in your passport) as "F-1, D/S."  This means that as long as you maintain a full course of study and in every other way maintain your lawful status (see Rights and Responsibilities of F-1 Students), or are authorized by the USCIS for Optional Practical Training following the successful completion of your program, you may continue to remain lawfully in the U.S. in F-1 status.

However, you have been granted a limited period of time to complete your program of study as required by federal immigration regulations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The 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." 

If you know that you will be unable to complete your program within the time period provided, you should contact the ISSO at least one month prior to your current I-20 completion date to request a program extension.   If approved, you will receive a new Form I-20 indicating the new, expected completion date.

If you fail to request a new Form I-20 for Program Extension before your current I-20 expires, or you are otherwise determined to be ineligible, then you will be considered out of status and must file for reinstatement with the USCIS.

To determine if you are eligible for a program extension, an ISSO advisor will evaluate the following:
  1. Maintenance of your current F-1 status.

  2. The cause of the delay in completing your program of study. Acceptable reasons that warrant an extension include:

    1. Compelling academic reasons such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, etc.

    2. Compelling medical reasons for which there is documented proof.

      NOTE:  A delay caused solely by academic probation or suspension is not an acceptable reason for program extension.

  3. Sufficient funding is available to you 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.

Requesting a New I-20 for Program Extension
If you will need more time to complete your program of study than is permitted by the completion date in section 5 of your current Form I-20, please follow these steps:
  1. Download the Program Extension Checklist which includes the Academic Advisor's Recommendation for Program Extension form.

  2. Request that your academic advisor complete the Academic Advisor's Recommendation for Program Extension form.

  3. Assemble proof that you have sufficient funds to cover the expenses for tuition, fees and cost-of-living 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 letter of financial support that verifies they will provide funding for your tuition/fees and living expenses while you are at Boston University. For your convenience, Boston University has prepared a Sponsorship Certification Form for this purpose.

    All financial documents must be originals, signed and dated, written in English, with currency amounts listed in US dollars.

  4. If this is the second or subsequent request for an extension of your current academic program, obtain a letter from your department chair requesting the extension and outlining the compelling academic reasons that caused the delay and explaining how you are making normal progress toward degree completion.

  5. Bring the above documentation to the ISSO along with your current I-20, passport, F-1 visa and I-94 card (do not bring copies).   Ask to fill out a Request Form for an I-20 Program Extension.  

Once the ISSO has received a completed extension application (i.e., all required documents submitted), please allow ten (10) business days for processing.


Boston University
November 24, 2009

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office