Some students complete their programs in just a few semesters and others may encounter unexpected delays that result in a longer period of study than first anticipated. Each visa certificate (I-20/DS-2019) is issued to students for a particular program of study, level, and time period. Just as a new visa certificate is necessary to change curriculum (major or program) or level of study, a new visa certificate with a new program end date is necessary if the student is not able to complete the program requirements before the program end date listed on the form (Item #5 of the I-20 or Box 3 of the DS-2019). The time period for each level of study at NC State is noted in the SEVIS system and initial documents are generally issued with the following lengths of time: five years for bachelors, three years for a masters, and five years for a doctoral program.
A Program Extension is easy to do and can be done anytime during the semester preceding the program end date on the visa certificate. It is the student’s responsibility to request and make arrangements to obtain the new certificate for a program extension before the current document expires. There is no “grace period” for students who did not do a timely program extension and OIS cannot “backdate” the extension in SEVIS. Failure to extend one’s program and obtain a new Form I-20 (or DS-2019 for J-1s) when necessary is a reportable event in SEVIS and will result in the student being out of status and possibly having to apply for re-instatement.
The OIS advisor responsible for processing program extensions for the student’s particular college will submit the request to SEVIS after document review and approval. The student will be notified via e-mail when the new I-20 or DS-2019 is ready for signature and pick-up.