International students are admitted to the United States for “Duration of Status” (D/S) to complete a specific course of study (notation is made in the passport by the Customs officer upon entry). Students are expected to complete the academic program by the completion date on the Form I-20 or DS-2019. If a student is unable to finish, s/he must request a program extension prior to the expiration date on the immigration document. Please note, the visa stamp in the passport does not determine the length of time a student is allowed to remain in the country. The visa is an entry document, once a student is in the U.S., the I-20 or DS-2019 must remain valid.
Extension of Stay Requirements:
- Contact International Student & Scholar Services at least a month before the program end date on the Form I-20 or DS-2019.
- Ask your Academic Advisor to complete the Extension Form to explain why more time is needed to complete the program. If the extension is due to medical reasons, additional documentation from a licensed medical professional is required.
- Submit financial certification to demonstrate sufficient funding for the extended period of stay. Documents should not be more than three months old. Scanned documents sent via email to ISSS are preferred.
- Once the Extension Form and financial documents are received, ISSS will prepare a new Form I-20 or DS-2019 for the student and dependents.
A program extension allows a student to remain in the U.S. to complete the program of study; however, it does not extend the visa stamp in the passport. If the visa has expired and the student travels home or outside of the U.S. and plans to re-enter to continue studying, a new visa will be required. Students should always consult with ISSS if traveling overseas especially if the visa has expired.