Reminders for F-1 Students Graduating in January
October 5th, 2023
As you near the end of your program, it is important for you to read the information below so you can understand your how program completion impacts your F-1 student status.
The end date on your I-20 is initially determined by the average length of your program but often changes during your final semester to reflect the date you will officially complete your program. We will be adjusting I-20 end dates throughout the summer when you apply for OPT, when you apply to be part-time in your final semester, or, after your graduation is confirmed.
I am graduating in January and want to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
ISSO will begin accepting OPT requests for Fall 2023 graduates on Tuesday October 10, 2023 at our front desk at 888 Commonwealth Ave. You may apply to USCIS from Sunday October 15, 2023- Tuesday March 12, 2024. Applying to USCIS outside of this window will result in a denial of your OPT application. USCIS is currently processing OPT applications in about 3 months. Your OPT must be approved before you begin any work.
The ISSO offers a toolbox of services to help you prepare your OPT application:
- Learn more about OPT from the ISSO website
- Watch all 8 short videos to learn about the application process and what to expect
IMPORTANT NOTICE: ISSO will be moving to a brand new immigration management system in November that will allow all international students at BU to manage their immigration status and requests to the ISSO with ease and transparency. Due to this impending system change, ISSO will be required to limit operations from Friday November 10 -Friday November 17. If you wish to apply for OPT before operations are briefly suspended, you must drop off your request to ISSO before 5PM on Monday November 6 to receive your OPT recommendation before Thursday November 9. Any submissions after this time will be delayed until after the system changeover is completed.
For the week of November 13-17, you may access Advisor on Call hours from 2-5PM in the lobby of the ISSO for limited and emergency services only, including travel signatures. More information to follow on the ISSO News website.
Once you ready to apply for OPT:
- Make sure you have been cleared to graduate by your school/college and that your expected graduation is posted as Fall 2023 in the student registration system
- Gather all of the documentation on the OPT checklist
- Obtain a new I-20 from the ISSO with the OPT recommendation
- Submit your application, fee and all supporting documentation to USCIS
To obtain the I-20 with the OPT recommendation, please complete the ISSO Drop-Off OPT Process as outlined below:
- carefully review our video instructions on how to apply for OPT
- stop by the front desk of the ISSO during our normal business hours with the following documents to request the new I-20 with the OPT recommendation. For Medical Campus students please come to Advisor on Call hours at the Medical Campus to complete this process.
- valid passport
- passport with most recent US visa (if different from current passport)
- printed version of your I-94 record listing your most recent entry to the US in F-1 student status which can be retrieved and printed from the USCBP I-94 website
- completed ISSO OPT Acknowledgement Form indicating that you take responsibility for the success of your OPT application
- printed copy of the email confirmation that you have paid the $100 ISSO OPT Processing Fee
- A Summer Reduced Course Load form can be completed at the ISSO front desk if you are enrolled part time in your final term (summer).
- PhD students that have not already officially graduated must also provide a letter from their academic department that specifies:
- expected defense date
- expected thesis submission date
- expected graduation date
- last date of on-campus student employment
Please note that your requested post-OPT start date must be after your last date of on-campus student employer. Student employment cannot overlap post-completion OPT.
Once we review your request and confirm that you are scheduled to graduate in summer, we will send you the new I-20 with the OPT recommendation to you via email in approximately 10 business days.
OPT Drop off process disclaimers:
- Please be advised that the staff at the front desk of the ISSO will not be able to advise you on how to file your OPT application so it is critical that you review all of our OPT application videos for specific details.
- All OPT applications are the responsibility of the student applicant and are adjudicated at the discretion of USCIS.
- If during review, ISSO finds your records are incomplete, we reserve the right to require an advising appointment.
- Please be advised that we cannot accept drop-off requests for OPT I-20 via email as we must check immigration documentation.
I am graduating in January but not planning to apply for OPT
You should take one of the following actions during your 60 day grace period after your January 12, 2024 program completion date:
- Submit a request for the ISSO to transfer your SEVIS record to another college or university if you have been admitted to a program at the new school and will start classes at the new school within 5 months of the day you last attended classes at BU.
- Inform the ISSO that you have been admitted to a new program of study at Boston University and obtain a new Form I-20 for your new program.
- Apply for a change of status to another nonimmigrant classification, if you are eligible to do so.
- Depart the U.S.
Your 60-day grace period allows you to remain in the U.S. but not to depart and reenter the U.S. in F-1 status. Once you leave the U.S. you may not return in F-1 status unless you have a new I-20 for a continued F-1 study.
As a reminder, for the entire time you remain in the U.S. in F-1 status under the sponsorship of Boston University, federal regulations require that you keep Boston University informed of your current residential address. You must do so by updating your “Immigration-U.S.” address on the Student Link within 10 days of moving.
I am NOT graduating in January
Check the end date of your I-20. If you will NOT complete your program of study by the program end date on your I-20, you must apply for a program extension. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to make an appointment with your advisor, connect with our virtual advisor-on-call or email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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