Pending graduates: Congratulations on the fine work you have done at Oberlin. In your final semester, we hope you will find moments to take stock of what you’ve accomplished as well as prepare for the next phase of your life.

As an F-1 international student, upon completion of your degree program, you have up to 60 days to remain in the United States. In the first phase of your life after Oberlin, you can:

  • return to your home country; 
  • pursue another degree at a U.S. institution;
  • apply for a change in visa status; or
  • obtain authorization to work in the United States

Return home. The self-explanatory option! Many international students are excited to return home. We expect your Oberlin degree to be a great asset for your job search in your home country. You may also find less competition in your domestic job market than the U.S. job market and, of course, you get to return to your family and friends.

Pursue another degree. You can maintain your F-1 visa status by transferring your SEVIS record to another U.S. institution. You need, first, to secure admission to another institution and, second, to complete the necessary transfer forms: Oberlin’s SEVIS transfer out request form , and the transfer-in form specific to the college or university of your choice. This process is simple, and it allows you to maintain your current SEVIS record and thereby avoid another SEVIS application fee. The timing of these decisions, though, is critical. Make an appointment to coordinate transfer dates, especially if you plan to work or travel before enrolling at your new school.

Apply for a change in visa status. This option is the least likely for you to pursue at this point. Most students wait until they have completed their graduate studies, or one to three years of optional practical training (OPT), before applying, for example, for an H1-B visa: temporary worker in a specialty occupation. The H1-B visa application is complex, and it requires that your employer petition on your behalf (or “sponsor” you) for this visa.

Obtain authorization to work in the United States. OPT is a temporary employment benefit available to F-1 students who have maintained good status. OPT provides students with the opportunity to earn work experience in a field directly related to their degree, for up to 12 months for each degree level. Students in select STEM fields can apply for STEM OPT, which allows a student up to 24 more months of employment in the United States.

 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Related Documents

  • Sample tourist visa letter : See the list of documents, including a sample letter, you should provide to family members who are applying for tourist visas to attend commencement exercises.