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 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 (for Ph.D. or Master’s thesis students, this will be the term in which the final thesis/dissertation is submitted).
According to Immigration, a student has completed the degree when she/he has satisfied all academic program requirements. This means your I-20 must end on the final day of the semester you are enrolled in your last required courses, regardless of the semester of your graduation. You may not request to take additional courses in a new semester once your required coursework has been completed, and you may not knowingly postpone the completion of your degree requirements (including the submission of the thesis/dissertation) for any perceived immigration or employment benefit.
If you will be completing in Fall or Spring semester and do not need to be registered full-time to complete degree requirements, you must submit a Part-time Authorization Form (via iTerp) to ISSS by the end of the add/drop period.
- On Campus Work
F-1 and J-1 students are permitted to work on campus up to the last day of their final enrolled term. It is the student's responsibility to inform your employer that you can no longer work on campus from this date. If you are currently employed on campus and issued a new I-20/DS-2019 whose end date is adjusted to the last day of your final enrolled term, ISSS recommends you give a copy of the I-20/DS-2019 to your payroll coordinator so that they are aware of the end of your on-campus work eligibility.
- Practical Training
F-1 and J-1 students may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1) that will allow them to work after the last day of their final enrolled term. F-1 students who are interested in beginning off-campus employment before the last day of their final enrolled term may wish to participate in pre-completion Optional Practical Training benefits. Please see the employment sections of our website for detailed information regarding eligibility and procedures for applying for these benefits.
Pursuing Further Studies
- At UMD: Students who wish to pursue another degree at UMD will go through the SEVIS program level change process. If admitted into a new degree program, international admissions will issue a new I-20/DS-2019 for 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 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. Keep in mind that a change of status application must be filed within the grace period.
Students who complete a program of study in F-1 or J-1 status will receive a grace period (F-1 60 days, J-1 30 days). This grace period will begin at the end of the term in which all degree requirements are completed and the I-20/DS-2019 has ended. Students who choose to participate in optional post-completion employment benefits (OPT/Academic Training) will instead receive this grace period after the end of their employment authorization.
Travel Outside the U.S. During 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.