Completion of Program
During the last semester of your studies (or even earlier), you should be thinking about your future plans. If you are interested in remaining in the U.S., then there are steps you need to take to maintain your status.
Grace period- After you graduate, you have a 60-day grace period. The Office of International Programs will check which F-1 students have graduated each semester. For those students who graduate but do NOT choose to apply for Optional Practical Training , the program end date of the I-20 / SEVIS record will be shortened back to the last day of the academic term in which you graduate.
During this time, you may so the following:
- Prepare for departure-You may reside in the US and travel in the US, but you may NOT work, not even on campus. This time is for you to make plans for either staying in the US, or returning to your home country.
- Start a new program- If you would like to start another degree, either at UTEP or elsewhere, you should apply for the program as soon as possible. In order to maintain your F-1 status, you must be admitted to the new program before OR during your grace period and you must begin your new program within 5 months of your I-20 expiration date. If you are admitted to a program at another university, you need to request a transfer of your SEVIS record before OR during the grace period in order to maintain your F-1 status.
- Participate in Optional Practical Training -If you are interested in working in the U.S. in a job related to your degree, you may apply for, Optional Practical Training (OPT) which is a 12-month work authorization granted through your F-1 visa. You may begin applying for OPT as early as 90 days before your program end date, and you have until the 60 th day after your program end date for your application to be received by US CIS. If you choose this option, OIP will enter the OPT request in your SEVIS record and the record will remain active if your OPT is approved.
- Change your visa status-Sometimes students will apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change their status to something other than F-1 status. The Office of International Programs suggests consulting a lawyer if you are considering this option.
Some students complete their degrees and decide to return to their home countries to work or for other reasons. If you choose this option, then you have 60 days from your program end date to exit the United States. Be sure to turn in your I-94 when you leave. This is how the U.S Government records your departure.
DO NOT remain in the U.S. after your grace period unless you have found a legal way to stay here. If you stay here without valid status, you are overstaying your F-1 visa, which is illegal and could cause you problems in the future.
If you choose to return to your home country, or if you choose to continue on to other academic programs, your SEVIS / I-20 records will be automatically completed by the SEVIS database. This will show the US government that you have completed your degree programs. A “completed” SEVIS record status is a good record status.
Office of International Programs
203 Union East Bldg * (915) 747-5664 * firstname.lastname@example.org * Hours: Monday-Tuesday 8-6 Wednesday-Friday 8-5
Monday-Friday 8-5 when classes are not in session.