I-20 Form: Degree Completion Date and Grace Period
The I-20 reflects an expected completion date in item 5. Students are allowed to pursue full-time studies toward the completion of the program reflected on their I-20 up to that date.
- The completion date does not include the 12 months of Optional Practical Training a student may apply for upon completion of a program of study.
- If a student completes the program of study prior to the completion date, the I-20 will automatically expire on the date the student completes. Student has an automatic grace period of 60 days upon the completion of studies to:
- Depart the United States
- Enter a new program of study and obtain a new I-20
- Apply for Optional Practical Training before completion of studies
- Apply for a change of visa status
- Degree-seeking students unable to complete their program of study by the completion date must apply for a Program Extension up to 30 days before the expiration date.
- Students unable to complete their program of study by the completion date and who fail to extend their I-20 before it expires will Violate Legal Status and Overstay their visa.
- Students who change their degree program should apply for a new I-20 that reflects the new program and the new completion date (see F-1 Legal Status - Program/Degree Change Notification).
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations allow for one type of grace period:
60-Day Grace Period
DHS regulations automatically provide a 60-day grace period for F-1 students who complete a program of study. The 60-day grace period should be calculated from the date of completion. Students authorized post-completion Optional Practical Training have a 60-day grace period beginning from the date the Optional Practical Training (OPT) expires.
Caution: It is the responsibility of the students to insure that the I-20 reflects the current program of study and to insure that the I-20 does not expire. If students allow the I-20 to expire without completing the program of study, they will violate legal status and overstay the visa. If students remain in the U.S. and allow the 60-day grace period to expire without having begun a new program of study with a new I-20 or having submitted an application to the DHS for a visa change or Optional Practical Training, they will violate legal status and overstay the visa.