The F-1 student visa status regulations require that international students in F-1 status maintain full-time enrollment every semester and also make normal academic progress towards completing their degree requirements. 

If an international student in F-1 status will not complete their degree requirements by the end date indicated on their form I-20, the student must apply to ISSS for an F-1 program extension before the F-1 program expires. 

Eligibility Requirements

Initial or first request for an extension of F-1 program: 

To be eligible for an initial extension, students in F-1 status must have either a compelling academic or medical reason.  Extensions will only be granted if a student has required coursework remaining for their current degree program. Students pursuing a Ph.D. or Master’s Thesis must not have yet successfully defended their Ph.D. dissertation or Master’s thesis.

  • F-1 program extensions can only be issued for a maximum of 12 months.  
  • An academic agreement will be required as part of the extension request form.

All acceptable academic reasons for an extension must be accompanied by the student also having remaining required coursework. Acceptable academic reasons for an extension include but are not limited to:
  • change of major
  • change in research topics 
  • unexpected research problems 
  • loss of credits upon school transfer  
  • retaking coursework 
  • previous enrollment in coursework that might not have counted toward major requirements 

If there was an academic suspension on the record in the past, the student must have made measurable academic progress since the suspension (based on a higher cumulative GPA). If measurable progress has not been made, the initial extension cannot be approved.

Students can provide this plan in place of the ISSS academic agreement.

To substantiate an illness/medical condition, students will be asked to submit a Program Extension Medical Recommendation Form signed by one of the following U.S.
  • licensed medical practitioners, all authorized by the F-1 regulations:
  • U.S. -licensed Medical Doctor (MD)
  • U.S.-licensed Doctor of Osteopathy (DO)
  • U.S.- licensed Psychiatrist
  • U.S.-licensed Clinical Psychologist (CP)
  • U.S.-licensed Psychologist.

Subsequent or second request for an extension of F-1 program: 

To qualify for a second/subsequent F-1 program extension, all students must have shown measurable academic progress by showing an improved cumulative GPA as well as successful completion of required coursework over the semesters since the student’s previously approved F-1 program extension. 

  • F-1 program extensions can only be issued for a maximum of 12 months.  
  • Students petitioning for a second F-1 program extension based on ‘compelling medical reasons’ must submit an additional recommendation form attesting to the “extreme extenuating circumstances” contributing to the need for an additional F-1 program extension and signed by a medical professional authorized by the F-1 regulations. 
  • A supplemental academic agreement will be included as part of the extension request form.

Graduate students enrolled in non-graded credits (dissertation or thesis credits) can submit the approved Graduate School Extension Petition.

Third or subsequent request for an extension of F-1 program: 

A third extension request will in most cases be denied due to the F-1 regulatory requirement that a student in F-1 status make normal academic progress toward completing a course of study. Students needing additional time to complete their degree requirements after a second extension request are advised to consult ISSS for alternative options. Students may be advised to seek reinstatement after termination of F-1 status (case-dependent) or to exit and re-enter on a new F-1 program. 

Program Extension Request Process

To request an extension of an F-1 program, an international student in F-1 status must submit the following documentation to ISSS at least two weeks prior to your I-20 program end date.

  • F-1 Program Extension Form (available in the MyISSS portal
  • Proof of funding for extension (e.g., bank statement, affidavit of support; TA/RA appointment letter) 
    • Contact an ISSS advisor for assistance calculating the amount required to be shown through valid proof of funding documentation. 
    • Calculate an estimate of tuition and fees using the tuition and fees rate calculator available on the Bursars website. Living expenses for the F-1 primary and, if applicable, the F-2 dependent must also be included in the financial support calculation. 
    • Tuition and fees are just one part of the overall cost to attend CU Boulder. The full cost of attendance for an academic year could include expenses such as on-campus housing and food, books and supplies, and items that are not billed by the university, such as personal expenses, transportation and medical insurance. View the full cost of attendance
    • Please review the ISSS Financial Support Documentation Requirements 

If the ISSS advising team determines you are eligible for an I-20 program extension, your SEVIS record will be updated, and a new I-20 will be issued with the extended program end date.

  • You will receive an email when your request has been processed.