Graduation Information for F-1 Students

oip_students_comm11You are now coming near to the completion of your studies at Fairfield and you are starting to plan your future. There are several important things you need to keep in mind when planning for the future.

The first step in making sure you are ready to graduate is to check with your academic advisor and your dean that you will have fulfilled all of your requirements by the end of your last term. Once that is clear, you need to make sure that the "Program End Date" on your Form I-20 matches the actual date you will be completing your program. If you will be finishing your program earlier than the date on your I-20, you need to complete the Shorten Program Request and submit it to the Office of International Students so you can get a new I-20 reflecting that new date. If, on the other hand, you will be finishing your program later than your I-20 states, you will need to file an Extension of Stay Request.

Once your completion date is set, you need to know the limits on your non-immigrant status regarding the completion of your studies. Your first choice, after completion of your program, is to return home. You have 60 days after the program end date on your I-20 to get ready and go home. If you fail to leave the country by the 60th day, you will overstay your status.

However, you can remain in the country in several different ways. One option is to file for post-completion OPT (see the Employment website for more info). Depending on your individual case, you may be able to stay in the country on OPT up to 12 months after your program end date.

A second option is to move on to another educational program. Keep in mind that you need to be making "normal progress," in other words; you can't do a second Bachelor's degree or a third Master's degree. You may do this at Fairfield University or at any other SEVIS-approved institution. If you wish to pursue your studies at another institution, follow the procedures for a Transfer-Out. If you wish to pursue another program of study at Fairfield follow the Change of Education Level link.

You may also be able to remain in the country because of circumstances specific to you. This will require you to change to another status. Keep in mind that if you are planning on changing your status from F-1 to any other, you will need to apply before your program end date. Your F-1 status expires 60 days after the program end date on your Form I-20.

Please inform the Office of International Students of your post-graduation plans.