F-1 Program Extension

Students in F-1 status are given the standard program length of full-time study on their form I-20 in order to complete their degree requirements. Students who will not complete their degree program by the program end date on their form I-20 may request an extension.

Under certain circumstances per F-1 immigration regulations, your ISO advisor is allowed to extend your I-20, but you must obtain the extension BEFORE your current form I-20 expires. Failure to request an extension in a timely manner will have negative consequences for the student’s immigration status.


You must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for a program extension:

  • You must be in valid F-1 status, having maintained a full course of study throughout every required semester.
  • You must demonstrate that you have compelling academic or medical reasons that necessitate the extension of your form I-20.
  • You must apply for a program extension 30 to 90 days prior to the expiration date of your form I-20. Failure to extend your I-20 by the expiration date will cause you to fall out of status and you will be ineligible for an extension.
  • You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover the remaining time needed to complete your program.

You are not eligible for a program extension if any of the following applies:

  • You were enrolled for less than a full course load without prior approval by an ISO advisor.
  • You require additional time to complete incomplete grades, withdrawals, failed classes, or because you were placed on academic probation or were academically suspended.
  • You have otherwise failed to maintain your F-1 status (unauthorized employment or any other violation).
  • You fail to have your I-20 extended by the program end date listed on your form I-20.

How to apply:

The F-1 Program Extension Request eform can be submitted via ISOGateway. After logging in with your GW email address, please click on "F-1 Student Services" category on the left-hand side, and then click on F-1 Program Extension Request.

To ensure sufficient processing time, you will need to prepare and submit the following extension request documents via ISOGateway at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of your form I-20:

(We strongly recommend scheduling an appointment to see an ISO advisor if you have any questions regarding your extension eligibility.)

  • Copy of most recent I-94
  • F-1 visa copy
  • Passport biographical page copy
  • Signed letter from your academic advisor on GW letterhead detailing the following information:
    • Your name and GWid number
    • Indicating this letter is in support of your I-20 extension request
    • Your degree level and major
    • The number of credits you have completed thus far towards your degree
    • The program requirements you have left to complete, including the number of credit hours
    •  If you are writing a thesis or dissertation, when the thesis or dissertation will be turned in and defended
    • A detailed explanation of the compelling academic or medical reason(s) that necessitate the extension, i.e., why it is that you have not finished in the expected length of time
    • Your anticipated date of program completion
  • If you are extending because of medical reasons, the medical condition must be substantiated by medical documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologist. A signed/dated letter from the medical professional with the RCL recommendation due to your medical condition is required.
  • **Proof of sufficient funding for the length of the extension:
    • Bank letter or statement no more than 3 months old, in English. (If a sponsor will assist you to meet this financial obligation, in addition to providing proof of funding s/he must complete page 2 of the form found at: Graduate PDF or Undergraduate PDF)
      **Note: If you arrived at this page from ISOGateway's F-1 Program Extension Eform, one of the above linked forms should be used for the last file upload question if applicable.
      ***Please email [email protected] if you have trouble opening your link.
    •  GW award letter
    • Consult your academic or admissions office for the cost of your remaining credit hours, cost of living, books and insurance. Your ISO advisor will review the amount and may require additional funding if they believe the amount to be inadequate.
    • If you have dependents, you must also show additional funding and fill out a Dependent Information Sheet. Please also see the family expenses section of the above "Graduate PDF" for exact yearly funding requirements for your spouse and per child.

Once a complete request is submitted via ISOGateway, an ISO advisor will review the request to determine the student’s eligibility for an extension. If approved, a new form I-20 will be issued and an email will be sent to the student when their new document is ready for pickup.