F-1 Program Extension

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. All F-1 program extension requests must be submitted at least 60 days prior to your current F-1 program end date.

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

The maximum extension permitted is one year at a time. 

Please contact the Center for Global Health if you have questions about the requirements for the F-1 Program Extension application.

F-1 Extension Application Process

To apply for a program extension, you must complete the F-1 Program Extension request through your Terra Dotta portal. The completed request must be fully submitted at least 60 days prior to your current F-1 program end date. However, we recommend submitting the extension request at the very beginning of the term for your current F-1 program end date.

The F-1 extension application requires you to submit a letter of support from your college. The letter must be on letterhead and signed by your academic advisor or another college official who is familiar with your academic progress. The letter must describe in detail the compelling academic or medical reasons as to why you will not complete your academic program by your current F-1 program end date.

You will be also required to have a representative in your college complete an electronic questionnaire through Terra Dotta as part of this request. This questionnaire is known as a “recommendation” in the Terra Dotta system. 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 must select the appropriate representative in your college to complete this questionnaire. The college representative who completes the recommendation questionnaire can be the same person who signs the letter of support.

Your new requested program end date must align with the MUSC University academic calendar. Please be sure that both you and your college representative enter the same date in the questionnaires in Terra Dotta.

Once all of the elements in the F-1 Program Extension request are complete, you will submit the record in Terra Dotta. After submitting the request, it may be 2-4 weeks before your request is processed by the MUSC Center for Global Health. The exact processing time is highly variable and depends on the overall volume of requests at the time of your submission.

Updated Form I-20

If your request is approved, you will be notified by email, and an updated Form I-20 will be issued for you showing the new F-1 program end date.

The updated Form I-20 will be the primary Form I-20 that you use moving forward. However, please keep in mind that you must retain the originals of all I-20 forms that are issued to you indefinitely as part of your U.S. immigration records. In other words, do not discard any 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, a valid passport, and a valid Form I-20, you are permitted to remain in the United States 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 updated Form I-20 showing your new F-1 program end date, your F-1 status has been extended.

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

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