Extending F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, you are expected to complete your studies by the program end date found in the ‘Program of Study’ panel on page 1 of your Form I-20. The program end date was provided by your MUSC degree program as the expected date of completion for your particular degree program. If you will not complete your academic program by this date, you must apply for an extension of your F-1 program.

To be eligible for an F-1 extension, the following conditions apply:

  • You have continually maintained F-1 status
  • The delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons (such as a change of major, change of research topic, unexpected research problems, or a documented illness)
  • Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension

Application Process

To apply for a program extension, you must complete the F-1 Program Extension request through your Terra Dotta portal. As part of this application, you will be required to obtain a recommendation from a representative in your college. The college representative can be your academic advisor or another administrator in the college. The college representative must be able to answer questions regarding your academic standing, your current credits/courses, your remaining credits/courses, when you will complete the coursework, and the legitimate academic reason that you are not able to complete your program in the normal allowable time. You will not be able to submit the F-1 Program Extension request in Terra Dotta until this recommendation has been completed by the college representative.

You must submit the F-1 Program Extension request at least 30 days prior to your I-20 program end date. However, we recommend submitting the extension request as early as possible to avoid any issues with maintaining your F-1 status.

The maximum extension allowed is one year at a time. If you think you will need more than a one-year extension, you must submit a new extension application the following year.

New Form I-20

Once the program extension has been processed, CGH will issue a new Form I-20 reflecting the new program end date. The new Form I-20 will be mailed to you at your home address.

The new Form I-20 will be the primary I-20 that you use moving forward. However, keep in mind that you must retain the originals of all I-20 forms that are issued to you indefinitely as part of your US immigration records. In other words, do not discard previous I-20 forms. 

F-1 Status Extension

As long as you have a valid I-94 record with “D/S” as your admit until date and a valid (unexpired) Form I-20, you are permitted to remain in the US to continue your F-1 program participation (provided that you are a full-time student and are otherwise complying with all of the rules and requirements of F-1 status). Therefore, once you have received the new Form I-20 showing your new F-1 program end date, your F-1 status has been extended.

If your F-1 visa in your passport has expired, you do not need to get another F-1 visa in order to remain in the US in valid F-1 status. The visa in your passport is simply the entry document that allows you to request entry into the US in a particular status.

The only reason that you would need to obtain a new F-1 visa is if you must travel outside of the US and subsequently return to the US in F-1 status. In this case, you must apply for an F-1 visa at a US embassy or consulate outside of the US using your new Form I-20 before returning to the US. You cannot apply for an F-1 visa while in the US. Refer to our F-1 Travel page for more details.