UMD: A Globally Connected University
Congratulations on the upcoming completion of your studies. As an international student there are some procedures and regulations you should keep in mind as you approach your final term.
Completion of Program
Immigration defines completion of a program when all course requirements are completed for the degree. This means that once you have completed the required courses or submitted your thesis or dissertation, you have completed your program regardless of the semester of your graduation. Your I-20/DS-2019 will be adjusted to the end date of the term in which you complete all degree requirements.
- Bachelor’s students
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be adjusted to the end of the term in which you take your final required course that is used in meeting your degree requirements. The I-20/DS-2019 cannot be extended or kept active for administrative registrations or the completion of a minor.
- Students with more than one major are encouraged to complete all majors at the same time so that OPT eligibility applies to all majors. If your majors must be completed at different times, OPT eligibility will only be given for the major that is completed last (or whose completion date corresponds to the end of the I-20).
- Master’s non-thesis students
- Your I-20 or DS-2019 will be adjusted to the end of the term in which you take your final required course that is used in meeting your degree requirements. The I-20/DS-2019 cannot be extended or kept active for administrative registrations or the completion of a scholarly paper. Scholarly paper requirements are expected to be completed by the end of your required coursework.
- Master’s thesis or Ph.D. students
- Your I-20/DS-2019 will be adjusted to the end of the term in which the final thesis/dissertation is submitted. This includes optional terms in the event your thesis/dissertation is submitted in a winter or summer term.
Completing a program in a winter or summer term requires ISSS to treat it as a mandatory academic term. For I-20 purposes, registration in a course (including 799/899) in your final term is necessary, even for Winter and Summer terms. We encourage students who are completing in winter/summer terms to work with ISSS regarding the need for course registration and the end for your immigration document.
Regardless of when you are taking your final course (Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer), if only one course is taken in the final term, the final course cannot be taken online. If you are enrolled in more than one course, only one course can be taken online in the final term.
Special note about incomplete grades in final term: Incomplete grades should be resolved by the time specified in the incomplete contract. However, once the work is finished and the incomplete grade is entered, it is awarded retroactive to the semester in which the course was completed. Students resolving incomplete grades in their final term are encouraged to meet with an ISSS advisor to discuss how this may impact their plans to apply for OPT, transfer out, or other post-graduation plans.
Less than full time enrollment in final term
If you only need less than full-time enrollment to complete all degree requirements, submit a request for Part-time permission (available in the iTerp portal) to ISSS. Request the permission to be part time submitted and approved by ISSS before dropping below full time.
If only one course is taken in the final term, the final course cannot be taken online. If you are enrolled in more than one course, only one course can be taken online in the final term.
On Campus Work
F-1 and J-1 students are permitted to work on campus up until the end date of their I-20/DS-2019. (see completion of program above) Please notify your department that you are no longer eligible for on campus employment after the end of the semester.
Notifying ISSS of Your Post-Graduation Plans
As your graduation approaches, ISSS will need to stay informed of your post-graduation plans in order to understand when your F-1/J-1 status may come to an end. Your options are explained in the sections below. Once you have determined your post-graduation plans, please fill out the Exit Plan form on iTerp.
Departing the U.S. Within the Grace Period
Students who successfully complete the program of study listed on your I-20/DS-2019 will receive a grace period (F-1 60 days, J-1 30 days). Your grace period will begin at the end of the term in which you complete all degree requirements (see completion of program above). Your I-20/DS-2019 will be shortened to this date. Please fill out the Exit Plan form on iTerp to notify ISSS of your anticipated departure from the U.S. within the grace period.
After you complete your degree requirements it is not possible to travel outside the U.S. and return to the U.S. during your grace period in F-1 or J-1 status. If you depart the U.S. during your grace period, your F-1/J-1 status will have ended and any remaining time within the grace period will be forfeited. You may travel within the U.S. during the grace period.
If you would like to remain in the United States to work in your major field of study for a year, you must apply for work permission.
Pursuing Further Studies
At UMD: If you wish to pursue another degree at UMD, please make sure a new I-20/DS2019 is issued to you within the grace period. You will receive a new I-20/DS2019 checklist to complete for the creation of your new immigration document. This is considered a program level change in SEVIS. The new I-20/DS2019 will have the same SEVIS number and will contain the details of your new program.
At another institution: Students who wish to pursue a degree at another institution should follow the SEVIS transfer procedures. Keep in mind; UMD must transfer your SEVIS record to your new school no later than 60 days after the completion of the program for an F-1 student and 30 days for a J-1.
Change of Status
An F-1 or J-1 student may be able to remain in the U.S. while a pending change of status application is adjudicated. The change of status application must be filed within the grace period. Students should fill out the Exit form in iTerp and upload proof of their new status.
University commencement and visa considerations
University of Maryland celebrates Summer, Winter and Spring graduates in May of every year. Individual schools and colleges may offer celebratory events that honor their graduates following the term in which they complete their program. Students should check with their academic departments to confirm the official dates of the recognition events. Students who finished their academic program in a term other than Spring may wish to return to campus to participate in the official commencement ceremony.
Students who remain in the U.S.
Students who are in the United States maintaining status through OPT/AT or have changed to a different visa status should be able to remain in the US and engage in commencement events.
Students who have returned home
Students who have returned home after the completion of their F-1/J-1 status could consider applying for a B-2 visa to return to the United States as a visitor. No invitation letter is needed to apply for the B-2 visa.
Friends and Family
No invitation letter is needed because the purpose of the activity is for visiting the United States.
As instructed from the travel.state.gov website these letters are not required by the embassy to issue a B2 visa. The Student/Scholar should submit a copy of their I-20/or DS2019 to the relative applying for the tourist visa. You can also send an Enrollment Verification Certificate along with the copy of your passport. The B2 visa is designated for tourist activities, such as sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, obtaining medical treatment, etc.