Extending Visa Status

If you require additional time to complete your academic program, then you will need to extend your I-20 or DS-2019.  Extending your I-20/DS-2019 also extends your F-1/J-1 status.  You must apply for an extension before your I-20/DS-2019 end date!  Failure to do so may result in inconvenient and costly travel abroad in order to regain status.

Extension eligibility

To be eligible for an extension, a student must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Change of major
  • Change in research topic
  • Unexpected research problems
  • Documented medical illness
  • Documented family emergency

How to apply for an extension

The extension application consists of two items, which should be submitted to your advisor at the IO during walk-in hours.

1. Extension Letter

The Extension Letter has very specific requirements.  The letter must:

  • be written on department/program letterhead
  • be written by your academic advisor, PI or Dean
  • include your full name and Student ID number
  • state why you need an extension (please see criteria above)
  • state which quarter you will finish your degree

If your letter is missing any of these requirements, we will not be able to process your extension.

2. Financial Documentation

You must also provide proof of sufficent funding to cover the extended period of your I-20/DS-2019.  You may provide a bank statement, bank letter or letter from your department/program.  NOTE: if your advisor/department will be funding your extension then you may obtain one letter that reflects both the academic necessity for extension and funding guarantee.


Bank statement guidelines:

  • Must be dated within the last six months;
  • Name of account holder must be present;
  • Amount of money in the account must be listed;
  • Must be in English, or include a certified English translation;
  • Type of account (eg. savings, checking, time deposit) must be included;
  • Type of currency must be included.

Institutional letter of support guidelines:

  • Must be an original;
  • Must be dated within the last six months;
  • Name of award recipient must be present;
  • Must state the period of time covered by the award;
  • Must indicate Northwestern as the student's institution;
  • Must state the total amount of support for the given time period.

Bank letter guidelines:

  • Name of account holder must be present;
  • Amount of money in the account must be listed -OR- letter must state that the holder has enough money in the account to cover the estimated costs;
  • Must be in English, or include a certified English translation;
  • Type of account (eg. savings, checking, time deposit) must be included;
  • Type of currency must be included;
  • Must be dated within the last six months.

Processing

Complete extension applications take 3-5 business days to process.