This page contains important information for students who are nearing the completion of their academic program. Immigration looks at “completion of study” dates, not the “graduation dates” that the university system uses.
For most students, your completion date will be the last day of the term in which you complete your degree requirements (regardless of the date you actually graduate from the university).
If you are a graduate student writing a thesis or dissertation, your completion date will be the date that you submit the final draft of your thesis or dissertation (provided that you have been making average progress towards your degree completion).
If you plan to work in the US after graduation, you must apply for OPT. Applications for OPT can be submitted before your completion date (as described above) and can be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion of the academic program requirements. This is a change from the previous regulation. This means that your application must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after your completion date, and you will need to allow two weeks for processing and mailing. Keep in mind that applications for OPT usually take 3-4 months to be processed by USCIS, and you may not begin working until you have received the authorization. Your first step is to attend an OPT Information Session, which is offered three times each semester. Watch your e-mail or contact the OISS for specific dates.
If you do not wish to apply for OPT, federal regulations provide you with a 60-day “grace period,” which starts the day you complete your program of study (as described above). During this 60-day grace period, you have several options, which are described below:
- You can apply for a change of status if applicable. Immigration must receive the application before the end of the grace period.
- You can transfer to a new school. You must request a “transfer out” of your SEVIS record. You will need to have your transfer out approved by the Office of International Services before the end of the grace period.
- You can start a new program of study at IU South Bend. You must be fully admitted, apply for and receive a new I-20 from the Office of International Student Services before the end of the grace period. Updated financial documentation will be required. Set up an appointment withe OISS to make your request for a new program of study.
- You can leave the US before the end of the grace period.
If you plan to travel to Canada or anywhere else outside of the US during your grace period, the Office of International Services will not be able to sign your I-20 for travel. If you travel outside of the US, you will NOT be able to re-enter the US as an F-1 student at IU South Bend.
Finally, if you have dependents (F-2) with you in the US, their status is dependent upon yours. If you choose to leave the US after you complete your program of study, your family may not legally stay in the US if they hold F-2 status.
If you have questions, please contact the Office of International Student Services via phone (574) 520-4419 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We wish you luck in your future endeavors, and hope that you have enjoyed your time at Indiana University South Bend!