Choices Following Graduation 

F-1 students have 60 days following their Program End Date (usually graduation day) on their most recent I-20 to make their choice for the next step.  

The following are possiblities:  

  1. Apply for OPT - Optional Practical Training: 1 year of  work authorization in your field of study (remaining in F-1 status).  See details below. 
  2. Transfer SEVIS Record to a US Graduate Program (if beginning within 5 months of program end date).  See details below.  
  3. Leave the US and pursue work or study at home or elsewhere abroad. See sugguestions below. 
  4. Change Immigration Status (to tourist, etc).  Note that those on tourist visas cannot study or work. This tyically requires the assistance of an immigration attorney.

SEVIS Transfer to US Graduate Schools 

The SEVIS Transfer Details/Process:

The SEVIS transfer is an electronic transfer of your SEVIS record from F&M to the possession of your new school.  The Transfer is completed by your Designated School Official (DSO: Jessica Haile), and it means that the student's electronic record becomes visible to the new school.  The DSO can schedule the transfer to happen for a future date.  You will need to apply for a new I-20 with your new school (every school has their own process) - and as soon as your new school has your electronic record, they can use it to issue your new I-20 with your new program details, and financial details. 

Students are eligible to have their records transferred to another school in the US if:
  1. They will attend the school as an F-1 student... and,
  2. They will begin their new program at the school within 5 months of their current program ending (graduation day at F&M). 
The Benefits of the Transfer:
  • You can remain in the US while you are waiting for your new program to begin (as long as it will start within 5 months).
  • You don't have to repay the $200 SEVIS fee.  Because your SEVIS record is linked to your F-1 visa, you also don't have to get a new F-1 visa if you don't want to. 
  • Your SEVIS ID # will remain the same, so the number on your visa will match.  
What to do:
  • Usually, we will schedule the transfer of your record for the day after graduation.  Many students will apply for their I-20 with their school and then wait until the school can issue it. 
  • Most of your new schools will have a form that they need your DSO to fill out for them.  Some require you to fill out a portion of it.  
  • Please either send it to Jessica Haile electronically or drop off at the International Center.  
  • Please indicate the type of program (Masters, etc) and subject level so we can notate that with the transfer. 
  • Some schools will want to have this form submitted with your I-20 application, others will want our office to fax or scan it to them.  
Travel Implications:

If you have your record being transferred to another US school you can travel outside of the US, HOWEVER you will need to return to the US with your new I-20 from your new school to come back into the US.  This means you will need to coordinate your new school sending your new I-20 to you at home, possibly.   Because your program will have ended, you can no longer use the F&M I-20 to re-enter the country.  

If your F-1 visa has expired, you would also need to renew that while away in order to come back (but again, you will need your NEW I-20 to do this).

While you are waiting to begin your new program:

Please note that you cannot work on campus after graduation, and you will not have work authorization to work in any paid or unpaid work experience position while you are waiting to begin your new program.

If you are using OPT for summer-use only:  Note that you will need to coordinate the date of your SEVIS record release with your employer and DSO - the date will mark the end of your OPT (your OPT is tied to F&M).  


Working/Graduate School Outside the US