Consult the International Students office early if you plan to stay in the US for work or study after graduation from Hamilton. Here are some things you should know about your F-1 student status upon graduation.
All students are entitled to remain in the US for up to 60 days after graduation or completion of authorized Optional Practical Training (see below) following graduation. You may not work during the grace period, unless your OPT authorization has already started. Once you leave the country, your F1 status is no longer valid.
If you plan to continue your education in the US, whether through a second BA or by moving on to a graduate degree, you must request that your SEVIS record be transferred from Hamilton to your new school. You should notify Hamilton as soon as possible of your plans, but your record can be transferred as long as we are aware of your plans prior to the end of your grace period. Complete the transfer out request form, providing all requested information, and bring it to the Dean of Students Office.
You may ONLY work on campus after your program end date (graduation) with authorization for post-completion Optional Practical Training. Your on-campus work must meet the requirements for Optional Practical Training, described below. Please inform potential supervisors of your status and provide them with evidence of OPT authorization.
Please familiarize yourself with the OPT Application Process. You MUST meet with the International Student Advisor PRIOR to applying for OPT. Bring the completed OPT Intent Form with you, as well as completed application. The SEVP provides a convenient CHECKLIST of requirements for OPT applications. If you are an alum seeking to apply for an extension of OPT under the 2008 Interim Rule, you may MAIL or FAX (315-859-4077) the STEM extension request form to the international student advisor.
Optional Practical Training for up to twelve months is available to all students who have been in lawful status as a full-time student for one full academic year. If you have used OPT prior to graduation, the time used is deducted from the 12 month allocation. You must begin practical training no later than 60 days after your completion date. You are entitled to a 60 day grace period once the end of your OPT has been reached. TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE US WHILE THE OPT APPLICATION IS PENDING IS NOT ADVISABLE. Please take this into account when planning your application.
Approval of OPT is expected to take as much as 90 days, and you may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days in advance of your graduation (completion) date. You may apply during your grace period as well, but the application must be received by the adjudicators prior to the end of the grace period. YOU MUST REMAIN IN THE US IN ORDER TO APPLY DURING THE GRACE PERIOD. Students who leave the country during the grace period lose their F1 status. You may not begin employment until you have RECEIVED the EAD card authorizing it, so you should allow ample time for your application to be processed.
Do NOT mail an OPT application without consulting the international student advisor! Doing so is likely to result in errors and delays in processing.
Follow the mailing instructions you will receive when you get your I-20 with OPT authorization, including the suggestion to mail with a "return receipt," such as certified mail.
If you do not receive a receipt with an "EAC" number within one month of mailing your complete application, notify the international student office.
When you receive your EAC, check to be sure that all information printed on the form is correct. If anything is incorrect, contact the USCIS customer service office at 1-800-375-5283. Have your EAC number ready and be prepared to hold.
The status of a pending application may be checked through the USCIS tracking service.
The interim OPT ruling allows students applying for post-completion OPT to apply for a 17 month extension (total of 29 months) under certain specific circumstances pertaining to their degree category and their employment. The STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Extension is limited to designated majors and employers and must be authorized through Hamilton prior to applying. Students on a 17 month STEM extension may not accrue more than 120 aggregate days of unemployment in the 29 month period, and must continue to observe reporting requirements.
In addition, all students caught in the so-called H1-B cap gap may also now automatically extend their OPT if their H1-B application is approved. The cap-gap extension is not dependent on your major or employer. If your employer is considering applying for an H1-B for you, you can provide them with this SEVP Fact Sheet on H1-B Cap Gap for Employers.