F-1 students may remain the U.S. for 60 days following the completion of their final degree requirement (usually the "complete studies no later than" date on Form I-20). In most cases, the final degree requirement precedes, sometimes significantly, the date the degree is conferred. Individuals in F-1 status may also remain in the U.S. for 60 days following the expiration date of post-completion optional practical training employment authorization. The 60-day grace period applies in its entirety even if it has been used on a previous occasion. In other words, if a student's OPT does not begin until 60 days after they complete their studies, that student is still eligible to enjoy a 60 day grace period after completion of OPT.
Extremely importantly, no student may apply for an F-1 status related benefit during the 60 day grace period, except for post-completion Optional Practical Training. During the 60 day grace period:
- You may not apply for admission to the U.S. in F-1 status
- You may not apply for a program extension.
- You may not work or study.
These same standards apply to any periods in-between the program end date on Form I-20 and the commencement of valid optional practical training employment authorization except that students may apply for admission to the U.S. if complying with the documentation requirements outlined in the travel abroad section.
Unless you make a non-frivolous application to change status before the end of the 60 day grace period, you must depart the U.S. before the end of the grace period. If you leave the U.S. during your grace period, your F-1 status ends, and you are no longer eligible for any benefit based upon F-1 status, including making application for OPT.