I-20s are issued for a maximum of three years for degree students and 12 months for IEP students. If you need more time to complete your degree or program, you can apply for an I-20 extension. Since most North Lake College degrees can be completed in less than three years, extensions are granted only in special circumstances. Valid reasons might include a change of major, change of degree plan, or delay in studies due to a well-documented major sickness or injury. Failing classes, being suspended, or being on academic probation are NOT valid reasons to grant an I-20 extension.
An extension of your I-20 requires International Center F1 advisor approval, but does not require an application to the U.S. government. However, any I-20 extension must follow strict USCIS guidelines.
How to extend an I-20
At least four weeks before your I-20 expiration date, you MUST submit the following to the International Center:
- A completed extension request form
- Updated proof of financial support documents from you or your sponsor (submit the forms relevant to your situation)
- Other supporting documents to support your case. For example, if a sickness delayed your studies, bring a doctor’s note on official letterhead explaining the illness or accident.
Incomplete extension requests will not be processed.
I-20 extension requests submitted later than 4 weeks before the I-20 expiration date are not guaranteed processing/review before the I-20 expires.
A timely submission of an I-20 extension request of a complete request does NOT guarantee approval so please have alternative plans in place in case your request is not approved.
If you have questions about your I-20 extension request, make an appointment to visit with an F1 advisor about your situation.
A registration block from the International Center F1 advisor will be placed on your account.
If your I-20 extension request is approved, the F1 advisor will issue your extended I-20, with a new expiration date. The new date is an estimate of when you should be able to graduate successfully based on the progress in your degree plan.
Only one extension is allowed unless there are well-documented reasons, such as another serious illness that would require another extension. We cannot guarantee additional extensions. So you MUST make every effort to complete your studies on time as expected. You may be asked to sign a contract agreement by the F1 advisor that will outline any terms/expectations.
Alternatives to an extended I-20
If your request is denied, this does not mean you are immediately violating your visa status. You may have options, like applying to another college in the United States for an immediate transfer. The other school must be SEVIS-approved and must admit you. You must then show us proof of admission. The transfer must be done as soon as possible after the semester concludes at NLC.
It is possible in certain situations to transfer out but concurrently enroll at NLC
to still have the opportunity to complete your degree with NLC. In addition, you may be able to do what is called a 'reverse transfer' to complete degree requirements at NLC at the same time you earn your Bachelors degree. Contact us for details.
U.S. immigration law requires that you leave the United States immediately after your I-20 expiration date if you did not graduate, if you are denied an extension, or if you fail to transfer to another college or university when the I-20 expires. There is no grace period. If you are changing your visa status from F1 you must provide the proof of the change of status to the NLC International Center as soon as possible, before your I-20 expiration date.
Another possible alternative to completing your degree at NLC is taking your remaining classes online from your home country. This depends on which classes need to be taken. Contact us for details.
F1 students whose I-20 expires before graduating, completing their program, or receiving an extension are considered in violation of F1 status. The F1 records of such students will be terminated as required by US immigration law. Check your I-20 expiration date!