F-1 students are given a 60 day grace period after graduating. This 60 day grace period is given for students to take care of certain events, such as transferring between schools, changing their visa status, touring the U.S., or packing and making arrangements to depart. Students cannot travel internationally (including cruises) and re-enter in F-1 status during their 60 day grace period. Not being mindful of the 60 day grace period and overstaying could cause students to fall out of status and have serious negative consequences.
Pre-Graduation Grace Periods
If you take a leave of absence or withdraw voluntarily, you are allowed only 15 days to leave the country, transfer to another school or change your non-immigrant status.
If you need to return home you may ask for “Authorized Early Withdrawal”, which allows you to come back at a later semester as an F-1 student. It does not allow you to remain in the US though.
Common reasons for a withdrawal include:
- Illness or Medical Treatment
- Personal or Family Emergency
- You can’t be enrolled for Fall or Spring semester
Termination: No Grace Period
If terminated, you will need to depart the U.S. immediately. Should you choose to remain and fail to take action to obtain a legal status, the immigration authorities may find that you have violated your U.S. immigration status. Delayed departure after termination of your SEVIS record may impact your ability to receive a U.S. visa and/or your future reentry to the U.S. All notes regarding your termination are recorded in SEVIS, as well as your departure date, and that information is used by immigration officials when you interview for future visas.
The punishment for overstaying your grace period or not departing, know as unlawful presence is severe. The regulations state that unlawful presence will result in a finding of inadmissibility and a three to ten year bar to U.S. reentry. In order to avoid such a harsh punishment, you need to be aware of your grace periods if any, when making plans to depart the US. If you find yourself in the US past your grace period you should consult with an immigration attorney about what options you may have available.
Violation of Status
As an international student you are required to follow Immigration regulations, U.S. laws, and St. Olaf Policies. You may find that some U.S. laws may be inconsistent or opposite from the laws in your home country. You should be aware that some things that might be considered “minor” crimes for a U.S. citizen can have severe immigration and academic consequences for international students.
Activities that violate St. Olaf College’s code of conduct may affect your immigration status. Ex: alcohol violations, plagiarism, sexual harassment or assault, cheating, theft, vandalism, etc. If the punishment for a violation of a St. Olaf College’s rule results in your inability to enroll in class, the Assistant Director must terminate your SEVIS record. If you are suspended or required to withdraw from St. Olaf, it is required that you leave the United States and you have no grace period-you must leave immediately.