Maintenance of Status

F-1 and J-1 students will find information pertaining to maintaining their immigration status in this section.  The international student advisers in ISSA assist students in maintaining their status, but ultimately maintenance of status is the individual student's responsibility.  Students should read the information in this section carefully.

F-1 Program Extension

An F-1 student who is unable to complete a full-course of study in a timely manner must apply for a program extension before the completion date listed under Program of Study on page one of form I-20.

A program extension may be granted if the student has maintained status and the delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses. Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.

Students who need to apply for extension may begin the application process at the beginning of the semester in which the I-20 expires and no later than 45 days before the completion date on the I-20. Students should request a program extension by completing the Extension eForm in iStart under the I-20 request.  A new financial guarantee is required and should be uploaded into the eForm.

NOTE 1: If a student’s final term is summer, the student must be enrolled in summer because a summer vacation is allowed by regulations only if the student plans to enroll in fall.  If the final term is summer and the student does not want to enroll in summer, the end date will be the end of Summer I (one).
NOTE 2:  For graduate students with a paper, thesis, or dissertation requirement, the end of the program of study is one of the following:

  1. Defense date or
  2. The end of the semester in which the student is last enrolled, including summer. If the last term is summer and the student chooses not to register, the end of SUMMER I (one) will be used as the program end date. Please note: You may NOT work during summer if you are not registered.  [NOTE:  For immigration purposes, students cannot continue enrollment to maintain status after the thesis/dissertation defense.  See #3 below.] or
  3. 4 weeks after the defense date if the student defends between semesters or within a semester but after the thesis deadline for that semester or
  4. After completion of all degree requirements except thesis (PhD students must continue to enroll per Graduate School requirements for students applying for OPT).

IMPORTANT: Program Extensions not requested by the student in a timely manner (before the expiration of the I-20) will require a reinstatement.