Extending Your Studies

I'm completing my studies at NLC. How can I continue studying in the United States?​

When you complete your degree at North Lake College, you have several options to stay in the United States and continue learning: entering a year of on-the-job workforce training (OPT), or transferring to another university to get a bachelor's or other higher degree.

To transfer, you need to request a change to your form I-20, which specifies the schools U.S. immigration allows you to attend.  You must request this transfer within 60 days of completing your studies or your OPT employment.  Failure to transfer or leave the United States within this 60-day grace period will result in a violation of your F1 status.  If you are not sure when your 60-day grace period expires, please consult the International Center immediately.

How do I transfer to another school?

Provide the International Center with a SEVIS release request form (available online or in our office) and a copy of your acceptance letter from the school you wish to attend. Incomplete transfer requests will not be processed.

Once the request and letter are submitted, we will transfer out your F1 SEVIS record to the new school on the requested release date.  The requested release date will be either as soon as final grades are posted, when your OPT EAD card expires, or as soon as you graduate.  If you are a current student we cannot transfer your records mid-semester.

Once you are transferred out, contact your new school’s international office for information about getting your I-20 issued from the new school.  Most schools give this information in their acceptance letter.

I need more time to finish my degree at North Lake. How do I extend an I-20?

I-20s are issued for a maximum of three years for degree students and 12 months for IEP students.  If you need more time to complete your degree or program, you can apply for an I-20 extension.  Since most North Lake College degrees can be completed in less than three years, extensions are granted only in special circumstances.  Valid reasons might include a change of major, change of degree plan, or delay in studies due to a well-documented major sickness or injury.  Failing classes, being suspended, or being on academic probation are NOT valid reasons to grant an I-20 extension.
An extension of your I-20 requires International Center F1 advisor approval, but does not require an application to the U.S. government.  However, any I-20 extension must follow strict USCIS guidelines.

At least four weeks before your I-20 expiration date, you MUST visit the International Center to fill out and submit the following:
  • A completed extension request form
  • Updated proof of financial support documents from you or your sponsor (submit the forms relevant to your situation)
  • Other documents to support your case. For example, if a sickness delayed your studies, bring a doctor’s note on official letterhead explaining the illness or accident.
Incomplete extension requests will not be processed.
I-20 extension requests submitted later than 4 weeks before the I-20 expiration date are not guaranteed processing/review before the I-20 expires.
A timely submission of a complete I-20 extension request does NOT guarantee approval.  Please have alternative plans in place in case your request is not approved.
If you have questions about your I-20 extension request, make an appointment to visit with an F1 advisor about your situation.
If your I-20 extension request is approved, the F1 advisor will issue your extended I-20, with a new expiration date.  The new date is an estimate of when you should be able to graduate successfully based on the progress in your degree plan.
Only one extension is allowed unless there are well-documented reasons, such as another serious illness. We cannot guarantee additional extensions.  You MUST make every effort to complete your studies on time as expected. You may be asked to sign a contract agreement by the F1 advisor that will outline any terms/expectations.

Alternatives to an extended I-20

If your request is denied, this does not mean you are immediately violating your visa status.  You may have options, like applying to another college in the United States for an immediate transfer.  The other school must be SEVIS-approved and must admit you. You must then show us proof of admission.  The transfer must be done as soon as possible after the semester concludes at NLC.
It is possible in certain situations to transfer out but concurrently enroll at NLC to still have the opportunity to complete your degree with NLC.  In addition, you may be able to do what is called a 'reverse transfer' to complete degree requirements at NLC at the same time you earn your Bachelors degree. Contact us for details.
U.S. immigration law requires that you leave the United States immediately after your I-20 expiration date if you did not graduate, if you are denied an extension, or if you fail to transfer to another college or university.  There is no grace period.  If you are changing your visa status from F1 you must provide the proof of the change of status to the NLC International Center as soon as possible, before your I-20 expiration date.
Another possible alternative to completing your degree at NLC is taking your remaining classes online from your home country.  This depends on which classes need to be taken. Contact us for details.

F1 students whose I-20 expires before graduating, completing their program, or receiving an extension are considered in violation of F1 status. The F1 records of such students will be terminated as required by US immigration law.  Check your I-20 expiration date!