Completing Your Program
Congratulations on completing your program!
Your SEVIS record will be updated to reflect your graduation. Usually, this means that the end date listed on your I-20 will be shortened back to match the end of the semester or the end of your Graduate Assistantship contract (whichever is later). Any on campus work after that date would be considered a violation of your F-1 status.
Remember, even if your physical I-20 document shows a future date, your SEVIS record will be updated to reflect your graduation
J-1 Students: If you are a J-1 degree-seeking student, please contact ISSS before your program ends to discuss your options after graduation.
F-1 students have a 60-day window following their program end datecalled the “grace period.” During the grace period, F-1/J-1 students can:
- Prepare to leave the country
- Transfer to another U.S. university
- Start a new degree program
- Apply for OPT work authorization
- Change visa status (if eligible) please contact ISSS if you plan to change your status
If you do not plan on pursuing any of the above options and will depart the U.S. during your grace period, please submit a Program Completion Request in the ISSS Portal. For students preparing to return to their home country, there are several things you should take care of before you leave:
- Close your local bank accounts
- Return library books
- Pay university bills and any other outstanding bills
- Get your graduation certificate and copies of your Illinois State transcript
- Say goodbye to friends and professors, and get email addresses and phone numbers so you can keep in touch
- Pack and/or sell your belongings. If you wish to donate items that you think other international students could use (pots and pans, bedding, lamps, etc.), please contact International House or call (309) 438-5276.
Travel During your Grace Period
Travel within the U.S. during your grace period is permitted. However, if you travel outside of the U.S. you cannot re-enter the U.S. as an F-1 student during the grace period.
Inviting Family to Graduation
If you would like to invite your family from abroad to attend your commencement ceremony, please see our Inviting Family page for full details on the documentation you can provide to support their visa processing.
Preparing for Re-entry Culture Shock
- Students may be surprised to learn that just as they experienced culture shock when they first came to the United States, students may also experience culture shock when they go back home! This is actually very common among those who have lived abroad for a considerable time. During your time in the U.S., you may have acquired different attitudes, behaviors and skills. Family and friends may notice that you have changed, and at first, you might feel like you don't "fit" in your home culture and country. Rest assured that you will just need time to adjust to people, systems, and customs again.
- Here are a few tips to help yourself adapt to life at home:
- Try to meet people in your country who have studied abroad, too. They may have experienced, or may be experiencing re-entry shock themselves and you can help each other. It will help you to have friends who understand what you are going through.
- Keep in touch with friends whom you have met here. They will be a good source of encouragement and support.
- Do things that you enjoy (for example, playing tennis, listening to music, praying, etc.).
- Contact your old International Student Advisor at Illinois State! We enjoy hearing from former students and may be able to offer a bit of advice, too!
- Join the International House Alumni Association. This is a great way for you to keep in touch with friends and to learn about reunion events at Illinois State. For more information, please contact International House.