M-1 students are only admitted into the United States for the period of time that is needed to complete their course of study as indicated on their Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” plus any practical training (PT) after they complete their program. This time cannot exceed one year.
However, if an M-1 student needs more than one year to finish their program or any relevant PT, that student may work with their designated school official (DSO) to request an extension of stay (8 CFR 214.2(m)(10)).
Please keep in mind that the following rules apply for M-1 extensions of stay:
- M-1 students may only request extensions in one year maximum increments at a time.
- An M-1 student’s record is only eligible for an extension within a very specific time frame.
- The cumulative time of extensions that can be granted to an M-1 student is limited to a period of three years from the M-1 student's original start date, plus 30 days.
- This three-year maximum limit includes extensions granted due to school transfer or reinstatement to lawful status.
Requesting an Extension
If an M-1 student wants to file for an extension of stay, they must talk with their DSO as soon as possible. Before the M-1 student applies for an extension with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), their DSO should request an extension of stay in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
An M-1 student’s SEVIS record is only eligible for an extension during a very specific period of time:
- Up to 60 days before the student’s program end date listed on the Form I-20.
- But, no later than 15 days before the program end date listed on the Form I-20.
To request an extension of stay from their DSO, an M-1 student must provide proof of financial responsibility for the entirety of the proposed extension. If the DSO confirms that the M-1 student has an educational or medical justification for filing an extension and the financial resources to remain in the United States, the DSO will input the request for an M-1 extension of stay on the student’s record in SEVIS.
After granting the request, the DSO will print and sign a new Form I-20 for the student. The student must use this updated form to apply for an extension of stay with USCIS.
Applying for a Program Extension
After receiving an updated and signed Form I-20 from their DSO, the M-1 student must file a complete application package to extend their nonimmigrant status with USCIS. USCIS will deny any M-1 extension application received more than 60 days before and/or fewer than 15 days before the current program end date.
A complete application package includes:
- A properly completed Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.”
- Their updated Form I-20, indicating the extension of stay request in SEVIS.
- Applicable fee.
- Supporting documentation.
For detailed instructions on completing the Form I-539 and filing an extension with USCIS, please visit USCIS's Form I-539 webpage.
While USCIS processes their request, the M-1 student must maintain status and remain enrolled in their program of study or engaged in PT. Upon USCIS’s approval, SEVIS should automatically update the M-1 student’s record. Once the SEVIS record updates, the DSO prints and signs an updated Form I-20 and delivers it to the M-1 student. The student will also receive an updated Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” (with a new departure date listed) attached to the bottom of the Form I-797, “Extension Approval Notice.”
Please note: If an M-1 student is not granted the extension of stay from USCIS, the only option the student has to continue study is to depart the United States and return after receiving a new Form I-20 and SEVIS ID. The student must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee on the new SEVIS ID.