Immigrants who are in the United States on a student visa need to understand what to do when their visa status ends. Extensions on F-1 student visas are available for those who meet the requirements. It is important to note that student visas do not have an expiration date. Instead, students are admitted for the duration of status, D/S. This means that students are allowed to remain in the United States for the period of time it takes to complete their education. If you need to extend this time-period, you must take action quickly.

F-1 Status

F-1 Status remains in effect for the period of time authorized on the I-20 form. The I-20 form is completed by the Designated School Officer, DSO, at your school. You should have received a copy of this form from your institution. It indicates the date through which your student status is effective. This date is not the same as the date stamped on your visa. The visa document is strictly for use while traveling, and does not affect your status. Once the date on your I-20 form is reached you will no longer be allowed to enroll in an academic program.

How to Extend F-1 Status

Students who are continuing to progress towards their degree may require more time to complete their studies. If so, you may be eligible to request an F-1 extension. An extension must be requested before the end date on your I-20. The extension must be requested through your school’s DSO, designated school officer. Policies are governed by each educational institution, but generally, if you have a good grade point average and have been making progress towards a degree, an extension may be granted.

If You Miss the Deadline

If you miss the deadline to extend your F-1 status, your student status has expired. If this happens, you should meet with your DSO immediately. You must have your status reinstated if you wish to remain in the United States. To accomplish this, you must file a form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This must be filed with U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The other option available to you is to leave the country and apply for a new F-1 visa. This may be faster than reinstatement. Either option requires you to meet with your DSO to discuss your situation. If you have questions about your F-1 visa, contact an experienced immigration attorney for assistance.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Extensions on F-1 Student Visas, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.