Extending Visa Status

Students making continual progress toward their academic objective at Northwestern University may find it necessary to extend the validity of either form I-20 or DS-2019. An extension of the I-20/DS-2019 is an extension of status and is required for students who will not complete their degree program by the completion date specified on the I-20/DS-2019. 

Remember, the validity of either form I-20 or DS-2019 is of utmost importance in relation to maintaining F-1 or J-1 status in the U.S. A student must apply for an extension before the completion date listed. 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. A signed letter on letterhead from the academic advisor

There is no specific format for this letter, but it must include:

  • Student Name and StudentID
  • Why the student needs an extension (see above for criteria)
  • Which quarter the student will finish his/her degree

2. Financial documentation reflecting sufficient funds to cover the extended period.

Financial documentation guidelines are listed below.

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.

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. 

Processing

Completed applications may take 3-5 days to process.