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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): F-1 Program Extension

As an F-1 Student, you are granted a specific period of time to complete your degree requirements. This period of time is reflected in Section 5 of your Form I-20, whoch indicates your "completion date." If you are unable to finish your degree requirements by that date, you must apply for a program extension.

Eligibility Requirements for Program Extension

You may apply for an extension of your study program if:
  • You have not yet exceeded the time limitation placed upon your study by the expected completion of studies date in Section 5 on your I-20;
  • You have continuously maintained lawful F-1 status; and
  • The delay in completing program requirements has been caused by compelling academic reasons (such as changes of major field or research topics, or unexpected research problems), or compelling and documented medical reasons.
Delays in completing program requirements which are caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for extension of a program of study. If your completion of studies date has expired or if you do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for program extension, you may need to apply for "reinstatement" to lawful F-1 status. In this case, immediate consultation with your international student advisor is necessary.

Application Deadline for Extension of a Study Program

You must apply for an extension before the completion date on your I-20. You should contact ISS at least 30 days before your I-20 completion date so that you will have sufficient time to prepare your application. If your completion date has already passed, please contact ISS immediately.

Application Procedures

  1. You will need to have your academic advisor/department fill out a Program Extension Form. The letter will verify the cause of delay in your program
  2. Current original financial documentation verifying your financial ability to continue your studies. (If you have an assistantship, your advisor/department will need to fill out the financial portion on the Program Extension Form.)

Once these procedures have been taken, ISS will issue a new SEVIS I-20 with the program extension date.

Failure to Comply with Program Extension Regulations It is your responsibility to comply with all Immigration regulations which apply to F-1 students, including the extension of study program regulations. If your I-20 completion of studies date will expire soon or if it has expired, you are urged to immediately contact your inernational student advisor. If you fail to comply with the immigration regulations, you may not be eligible to continue (or to apply for) benefits provided to F-1 studets, i.e., employment options, to apply for school transfer, or other F-1 benefits and in some situations, you may be subject to deportation.

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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