Updated 11/29/2023

F-1/J-1 students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. Please refer to the program end date that is printed on page one of the I-20 or DS-2019.

Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by the program end date must apply for a Program Extension before their I-20/DS-2019 program end date. If the expiration date on the I-20/DS-2019 has passed, students must meet with an OIS advisor immediately, as the student is considered to be out of status.

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Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a program extension, F-1/J-1 students must meet the following requirements:

  • The expiration date of the I-20/DS-2019 has not yet passed
  • Continuously maintained the F-1/J-1 student status
  • The delay in completion of the program must be due to one of the following reasons:
    1. Medical reasons (must have required medical documentation signed by MD, DO, or licensed clinical psychologist)
    2. Change of major
    3. Change in a research topic
    4. Unexpected research problems
    5. Other compelling academic reasons–academic advisor must specify in detail

If none of these reasons apply, please contact the Office of International Services to consult with an advisor.

NOTE: Program extensions may affect future pre-completion OPT or CPT eligibility. Please consult with an OIS advisor the semester before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires to determine your practical training eligibility.

Program Extension for Progressive Degree Program

Students admitted into a Progressive Degree Program (PDP) must apply for a Progressive Degree Program I-20 Request during the final semester of the bachelor’s degree portion of their studies. The student’s I-20 will be updated to reflect the master’s degree. If needed, the I-20 program end date will also be extended to allow enough time to complete the master’s degree curriculum. 

Students should ensure they have been admitted and will be pursuing a Progressive Degree Program before submitting the Progressive Degree Program I-20 Request to OIS. Students should refrain from switching back and forth between their PDP and stand-alone bachelor’s degree as this is an extremely time sensitive matter that could ultimately affect their immigration status, including OPT eligibility. 

With permission from the academic department, PDP students may pursue Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon completion of their bachelor’s degree requirements and take a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the master’s degree portion of the PDP program. Students who want to participate in OPT during their PDP program should submit an OPT I-20 Request and a Leave of Absence request. Upon completion of OPT, students must submit a Return to USC: Initial I-20 request to resume the master’s degree portion of the PDP. Students will receive an updated I-20 with a new program start and end date.

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F-1 Student Program Extension I-20 Request Process

Click here for Program Extension I-20 Request Form

STEP 1: All Students (Except Viterbi Graduate Students or PDP Students)

In the Program Extension I-20 Request Form, enter your name as it appears on your passport, your @usc.edu email, and your Academic Advisor’s name and email.


STEP 1: Viterbi Graduate Students

In the Program Extension I-20 Request Form, enter your name as it appears on your passport, your @usc.edu email and “VGASP” as your Advisor’s name, and MASTERS@vase.usc.edu or PHD@vase.usc.edu as your Advisor’s email. Students may submit their Program Extension requests in Trojan International after the add/drop date of each semester but no later than one month before the I-20 expiration date. VGASP will begin reviewing Program Extension requests after the last add/drop date. Once OIS receives VGASP’s approval, OIS will process the program extension in 10 business days.


STEP 1: Progressive Degree (PDP) Students

On the Progressive Degree Program I-20 Request Form, enter your name as it appears on your passport, your @usc.edu email and your graduate program academic advisor’s name and email. If you are pursuing a graduate degree in Viterbi, enter “VGASP” as the advisor’s name and MASTERS@vase.usc.edu for the advisor’s email.

STEP 2: Complete Form & Attach Supporting Documents
Document TypeExplanation
Medical Documentation

As Needed

If you need a program extension due to medical reasons, attach a letter of support from an MD, DO, or licensed clinical psychologist. The letter must be dated, on official letterhead, and include a wet signature. If you previously submitted medical documentation to OIS when filing a reduced course load (RCL) or leave of absence (LOA), no additional documentation is required.
Double Majors

As Needed

If you are an undergraduate student extending to complete a double-major you must have this form signed by one Academic Advisor and attach an email or letter of support from your second Academic Advisor specifying the number of units remaining in your major and expected graduation date.
Academic Department Letter of Support

As Needed

An academic department letter of support is required after the second program extension. Attach a signed letter of support from your faculty advisor on official letterhead verifying you are making sufficient academic progress and will complete degree requirements by the expected graduation date.
STEP 3: Processing

After completing the form and attaching supporting documents (if applicable) click “Finish”. Your Academic (or VGASP) Advisor, and then OIS, will automatically receive your completed form. Once OIS receives the form, the processing time is 10 business days. Your extended Form I-20 will be signed electronically and sent to you via email.

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J-1 Student Program Extension DS-2019 Request Process

Please allow at least 7 business days to review and process the program extension request.

  1. Complete Program Extension Form
  2. Receive approval and signature from the department advisor. (Viterbi graduate students must receive approval from their Viterbi Admission & Student Engagement (VGASP advisor).
  3. Obtain proof of funding: Funding letter or bank statement in U.S. dollars and dated within the past three months – must cover the cost of tuition and $2000 per month for living expenses for the duration of the program extension
  4. Submit the signed Program Extension form along with the proof of funding to OIS via email (j1student@usc.edu) at least one month before the expiration date of the DS-2019. In the email subject line write: J-1 Program Extension Request: Last Name, First Name — SEVIS ID #
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