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Graduation and Beyond

Students who are graduating often have many questions about what their status will be after graduation or about what they need to consider when returning home. This list is a brief overview of what students should consider upon graduation in regards to their immigration status.

  1. Apply for Graduation and the Commencement Ceremony. Please see the following pages for more information on applying for graduation.  Undergraduates  or  Graduate students.
  2. Graduation date. For undergraduates, this is the last day of the semester in which you graduated.  For example, May 14, 2011 is the last date of the Spring 2011 term and would also be your graduation date. "Graduation" for graduate students means the date on which your final copy of your thesis or dissertation was submitted to the Graduate School.
  3. The 60-day grace period. After graduation, students are allowed a 60-day grace period in which they can apply for OPT, get accepted to a new school and transfer your I-20 to that school, get accepted to start a new educational level at NDSU, or depart the United States.

    • If you remain in the U.S. past the end of your 60-day grace period or past the expiration of your I-20 without graduating, you will be out of status.
    • If your I-20 expires in the future, your I-20 will end for immigration purposes on the date of your graduation. For example - if your I-20 expired on 05/14/2012 but you graduated on 05/14/2011, your I-20 ends when you graduated in 2011 and is no longer valid into 2012.
    • If you cannot make arrangements within 60 days for the options given above, you should return to your home country. If you wish to return at a later point to NDSU or begin at a new school, you can return home and then apply for admission at NDSU or another school and re-enter later using a new I-20.

  4. Applying for OPT. Students may apply for OPT up to 3 months before graduation and up to 60 days after. OPT applications submitted more than 60 days after graduation or the expiration of your I-20 will not be accepted by USCIS. Please read our Employment pages for more information on OPT.
  5. Transferring to a new school. You must request the OIP to transfer your record within 60 days after graduation and you must start school in the next available term. Please see our Transferring to Another School page for more information on the transfer process.
  6. Starting a new educational level at NDSU. Within 60 days of graduation from NDSU, you must get accepted to a new program at NDSU and receive a new I-20 for that program.

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Office of International Student and Study Abroad Services
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7895 - Fax: +1 (701) 231-1014
Campus address: Memorial Union 116
Physical/delivery address: 1401 Administration Ave / Memorial Union 116, Fargo, ND  58102
Page manager: International Student and Study Abroad Services

Last Updated: Monday, August 17, 2015 10:43:39 AM