Extending Form I-20 to Complete a Course of Study
Although you are admitted to the United States for "duration of status" to complete an educational program, you must actually complete your program before the program completion date indicated in the SEVIS record and appearing at item 5 on your current I-20. If you will not complete the academic program by that date, you must comply with procedures for program extension.
The program extension process is a notification procedure executed as a SEVIS update that does not require a government adjudication.
Eligibility for extension of F-1 stay
You are eligible for program extension if:
You apply to the ISP office for the extension with the required documentation before current I-20's expiration date.
The delay in completion is "caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or documented illnesses.
The F-1 regulations states that "delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension."
If you fail to complete your program within the time prescribed in item 5 of your Form I-20 and cannot meet the eligibility criteria for program extension, you are considered out of status and must apply for reinstatement to student status.
(See "Reinstatement to F-1 status after a status violation
What the student must do
Provide the ISP office with all the documents necessary to issue a new Form I-20 at least six weeks prior to the program completion date (I-20 expiration date), then the ISP office actually updates your SEVIS record to reflect the extension before the program completion date. These documents include:
Educational Plan made by an academic counselor - Make an appointment with the academic counselor and ask for it.
Financial Documents - Ask the ISP official about the balance that should be shown on this document.
If you have changed your major but haven't reported it to the ISP office, make a report as soon as possible. It is mandated by SEVIS that you report your current major field of study at all times.