Your I-20 is valid for the length of your program and is “active” only when you are enrolled and studying in a full-time program. If you complete your program before the end date written on your I-20, we shorten the I-20 to that new date.
When you enter the United States with an I-20 and F-1 visa, the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry writes “D/S” on your I-94 card meaning “Duration of Status.” This means that your stay in the U.S. is lawful so long as you maintain your valid F1 visa status. If you fall out of status, your lawful time in the U.S. will end.
You are responsible for maintaining your visa status. You do this by meeting academic & visa requirements as they relate to your program.
You have a 60-day grace period after the last day of classes in your program. During that 60 days you can prepare to depart the U.S., travel within the U.S., or transfer your I-20 to another school. Please note that you cannot travel outside of the U.S. during the 60 days and re-enter in F1 visa status. If you travel out of the U.S. during the 60 days you would have to re-enter the U.S. with a B2 tourist visa if you have one in your passport, or visa waiver if you are from an eligible country.
Changing Your Length of Stay
The end date on your I-20 is fixed. To stay past this date, you must enroll in an additional eligible program and apply for a new I-20 before your current end date of your I-20.