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F-1 and J-1 Program Extension

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When to Extend

If you will not graduate by the program completion date noted on page 1 of your I-20 or DS-2019, you must apply for an extension as soon as possible and no later than two weeks prior to its expiration date. Failure to extend your I-20 or DS-2019 in a timely manner will violate your visa status and also affect future employment benefits.

Acceptable reasons for an extension include:

  • Unexpected difficulties in performing your research.
  • Lack of access to the necessary equipment to conduct research.
  • Additional time needed to complete your thesis.
  • Additional time needed to complete program requirements.
  • Documented medical reasons.

If you are currently studying for your MS degree, you may not extend your I-20 or DS-2019  to take the qualification exams for a PhD degree.

Important note for J-1 students:

  • If you are a J-1 student who has been sponsored by a non-Stanford agency, you should contact that agency regarding the extension process
  • If your spouse has a J-2 visa with work authorization, and wishes to continue working, you should apply to extend your DS-2019 as early as three months before the end date on your current  DS-2019  because it can take that long to get J-2 employment authorization renewed.
  • If you have completed your program of study and want to participate in Academic Training beyond the completion date on your DS-2019, see Academic Training for J-1 Students.

How to Extend

  • If your I-20/DS-2019 has been issued by Stanford, you must first get approval from your advisor and department.  Once you have this approval, you can submit your document extension request through Bechtel Connect.  
  • Please include documentation showing proof of funding for your extension period. See F or J Visa Financial Budgets for funding amounts and Proof of Funding for documentation requirements. 
  • Once submitted, let your advisor and department student services representative know that your request is awaiting their online approval.
  • After your advisor or student services representative approves your request, it will be automatically forwarded to Bechtel, and the status will change to "submitted". 

    Bechtel’s processing time for the request is one to two weeks.

Important items to keep in mind:

  • Do not discard your previous I-20 or DS-2019 form(s).
  • If you are currently receiving Stanford-based funding, remember to provide a copy of your new document to Stanford payroll to prevent delays in receiving your research/teaching assistantship or fellowship.
  • Since the I-20/DS-2019 expiration date typically reflects the end date of the visa stamp in your passport, you will need a new visa if you plan to re-enter the U.S. after the expiration date of your visa stamp.
  • You may remain in the U.S. with a valid I-20 or DS-2019 and an expired visa in your passport.
  • Government regulations do not limit the time you may take to finish your program of study as long as you are making academic progress, but you may be subject to limitations imposed by the Registrar's Office or your department.