Center for International Education

1701 Wright Street
Madison WI 53704 

Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

International Admissions
Email / (608) 243-4108

International Student Services
Email / (608) 243-4108

Study Abroad
Email / (608) 243-4108

CIE Main Office
Call: (608) 246-6201 
Fax: (608) 243-4445

Downtown D112
211 North Carroll Street
Madison WI 53703

Call: (608) 243-4108

Hours: Limited staffing on Wednesday and Friday, please call first.

Visa Authorizations & Requests

Information and forms relating to visa authorizations and I-20 requests for international students.

Extending Your I-20

An I-20 extension is required when you need more time to complete your program and your I-20 is expiring. 

When to Apply

At least ONE MONTH BEFORE the I-20 expires. Processing an I-20 Extension typically takes 2-3 weeks and must be completed before the I-20 expires to avoid visa violation.

How to Apply


  • Complete a Program Extension Request online
  • Upload financial support documentation
  • Request an I-20 Extension Recommendation from your academic advisor

Dropping A Class/Reducing Course Load

You are required to study full time to maintain valid F-1 visa status. Permission to enroll in less than 12 credits or to drop a class must be approved in advance by CIE.

For permission to drop a class (even if you will remain enrolled full-time) or for permission to take less than 12 credits, submit your request via the ISS Portal.

NOTE: F-1 visa regulations allow RCL Authorization for the following reasons only:

1. Academic Difficulty Due To:

  • Initial difficulty with English language
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements
  • Unfamiliarity with US teaching method
  • Improper course placement

Reducing your course load due to an academic difficulty may only be done once. If approved, you must still remain enrolled in at least 6 CREDITS with at least one in-person class. 

2. Medical Conditions Such As:

  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Mental health

Reducing your course load because of a medical condition may be done for up to three semesters. This informational handout for medical (PDF, 67KB) may be shared with your doctor.

3. Fewer Than 12 Credits Remaining to Complete Program

  • This may only be done during the semester in which you will graduate with a degree, diploma or certificate. You must enroll in at least one in-person class during your final semester.

IMPORTANT: Poor class attendance or otherwise not making satisfactory academic progress can cause a visa violation. Active participation for the duration of the course is required. If you do not attend regularly, stop attending, or never attend a class you may be given a grade of “WNA” (“Withdrawn due to Non-Attendance”). Loss of legal F-1 visa status could result if the withdrawal lowers your course load to fewer than 12 credits. 

Need Academic Support? Madison College offers a variety of services to help students meet their goals.


The first step to transfer your visa status to another college/university is to be admitted by another college.

After being admitted, submit your transfer-out request via the ISS Portal to:

  1. Upload a copy of your admission letter to the new college/university.
  2. Select your desired date of transfer,
  3. Share a copy of the new college's transfer form to be completed by CIE, if one is required by your new college/university.
  • The transfer release date must be after you have completed all course requirements for the semester at Madison College.
  • If you are working on campus or with an off campus work authorization, all paid employment must end before the transfer release date.  
  • If you will be graduating from your current program at Madison College, the transfer release date must be no later than 60 days after your graduation date.
  • If your I-20 is expiring and you will not be graduating, the transfer release date must be before your I-20 expiration date.
  • SUGGESTION: If traveling abroad after you have finished at Madison College, you should use the I-20 from your new college to return to the U.S. In this case you may wish to select a transfer release date that falls immediately after completing all course requirements. If you are unable to get your new I-20 before leaving the U.S., you should arrange for your new college to mail it to you abroad. The new college will only be able to make you a new I-20 after the transfer release date. 

Some colleges may provide you with a form to be completed by CIE. We will return the form directly to the new college, unless otherwise requested.

With the above information, CIE will schedule your I-20 record to transfer in SEVIS on the transfer release date or as soon as possible after this date. You will be notified by email after the transfer has been successfully scheduled.

If you change your mind, please notify CIE immediately. SEVIS only allows for cancellation or change before the scheduled release date.


Before You Travel Outside the U.S.

  • Make sure you have your most recent I-20 from the Center for International Education (CIE).
  • Check the Travel Endorsement section (bottom of page 2) on your most recent I-20. The signature must be dated less than one year from when you will return. If you need a new signature, complete the Travel Signature Request Form (.pdf 164.KB) and bring it with your original I-20 to the CIE office, preferably one week before you leave.
  • If your F-visa has expired, schedule your visa interview before you leave and allow sufficient time for processing.
  • If you need to travel during the semester (which is generally not recommended), notify your instructors and make plans to make-up all missed assignments.
  • Consider if you will need an entrance visa for another country.

Before You Return to the U.S.

After a visit abroad of less than five months, be prepared to show the following documents upon your return:

  • Passport valid for at least six months after the date of re-entry
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp*
  • Most recently made I-20 with valid travel signature
  • Recommended: Financial documentation showing you can afford tuition and living expenses

*Automatic Visa Revalidation

A valid F-1 visa stamp is not needed if returning from a visit of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean islands (excluding Cuba), as long as valid F-1 visa status has been maintained and will continue after your return. To take advantage of this revalidation you must have only visited one of these countries (for example, you cannot travel to a country in Asia before trying to use an expired visa to enter the U.S. from Canada; re-entry will be denied in this case). Citizens of the following countries are not eligible for an automatic extension of visa validity: Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

Invitation Letter

If you would like to have a friend or family member visit you, the Center for International Education (CIE) can provide an invitation letter to assist with their visitor visa application. Please complete the Invitation Letter Request form. You will be notified by email when the letter is ready to be picked up.

Changing/Adding Programs

If you would like to add another program to your academic plans or change to a different program:

During your first semester 

After your first semester