Extension of Stay

Find out what you need to do if you need more time to complete your studies.

What is an Extension of Stay?

If you will not complete your academic program by the Program End Date in the Program of Study section of your current I-20, you must file for an Extension of Stay and receive a new I-20 with a new completion date.  This must be done before your current I-20 expires.

When Should I Apply for the Extension of Stay?

We recommend that you submit your application to ISS, 210 Talbert Hall at least 30–90 days before the Program End Date on your current I-20. The earliest you can apply is one semester before the Program End Date on your current I-20. 

  • Your extension request must be made and granted prior to the Program End Date on your current I-20.  If you apply for an Extension of Stay after the Program End Date on your current I-20, your application will be denied.  Failure to file a timely application will therefore result in violation of F-1 Status.
  • How does this affect the timing of my application?  Since large numbers of students will request an Extension of Stay in the weeks prior to February 1st, June 1st and September 1st, we recommend that you submit to ISS your complete Extension of Stay application several weeks before your current I-20 expires.  Note:  We cannot guarantee that your information will be entered into the SEVIS system before your Program End Date unless you submit your documents to us at least one week in advance.

Who is Eligible for an Extension of Stay?

To be eligible for an extension of stay, you must show that:

  • You are currently in valid F-1 student status.
  • You have maintained F-1 status and continually been a full-time student.
  • You are making normal progress towards completing your course of study.
  • The delay in completion was caused by compelling academic or medical reasons. For example:

o   Change of major or research topic

o   Unexpected research problems

o   Loss of credits upon transfer to the University at Buffalo

o   Documented illness

Note:  Delays due to academic probation or suspension do not qualify for an extension. 

Note:  If you are applying for an extension due to delays caused by a medical issue, you must submit medical documentation.

How Do I Apply for an Extension of Stay?

To apply for an Extension of Stay, submit the following documents to ISS, Talbert Hall 210 prior to the Program End Date on your current I-20:

  • Academic Advisor’s Recommendation Form
  • Financial documentation
    • ISS will calculate the total amount of financial support that you must document for an Extension of Stay depending upon the number of credit hours you need to complete your program and the number of months / semesters you require to finish your program.
  • Full-Time Enrollment for the current semester and your next semester.
    • If it is not possible to enroll for your next semester or you cannot receive Full-Time Certification from the Graduate School or a Final Semester Reduced Course Load at the time that you are submitting your I-20 Extension request, ISS will require that you show funding for full-time (12 credits) study.
    • If you need fewer than 12 credits (or 9 credits for graduate students with Assistantships), you must be approved for Full-Time Certification from the Graduate School (graduate students only) or have an approved Final Semester Reduced Course Load.

Will I Receive a New I-20?

Yes.  After we receive your complete Extension of Stay application, ISS will extend your SEVIS record and create a new I-20 with an updated Program End Date. 

Please keep your new I-20 and all of your previous I-20’s.  Do not throw away your old I-20’s as they are an important piece of your immigration history!   

You should carry all of your I-20’s when traveling because you may be required to present them as proof of your immigration history.