Skip Navigation

Program Completion

Congratulations on the upcoming completion of your studies. As an international student there are some important procedures and regulations you should keep in mind as you approach your final term. 

Completing Your Degree

According to Immigration, a student has completed the degree when they have 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.

VIS will shorten your I-20 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, unless requested otherwise). 

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 Reduced Course Load Request in accessVIS by the end of the add/drop period.


On Campus Work
F-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 whose end date is adjusted to the last day of your final enrolled term, VIS recommends you give a copy of the I-20 to your payroll coordinator so that they are aware of the end of your on-campus work eligibility.

Practical Training
F-1 students may be eligible to apply for Post Completion Optional Practical Training 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 Curricular Practical Training or Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training.

Pursuing Further Studies

At Stony Brook: Students who are applying to an academic program at the same or different degree level must request an updated I-20 from VIS through accessVIS prior to the start of the semester. Students changing their degree level, (i.e. Bachelors to Masters, Masters to Ph.D, or Ph.D. to Masters) must complete the Change of Degree Level request form, providing sufficient proof of funding for your new academic level.

At another institution: Students who wish to pursue a degree at another institution should follow the  Transfer-Out procedures. Keep in mind; SBU must transfer your SEVIS record to your new school no later than 60 days after the completion of your program for an F-1 student.

Change of Status

An F-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.

Grace Period

Students who complete a program of study in F-1 status will receive a 60-day grace period. This grace period will begin at the end of the term in which all degree requirements are completed and the I-20 has ended. Students who choose to participate in optional post-completion employment benefits 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 status. If you depart the U.S. during your grace period, your F-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.