Getting ready to graduate? Congratulations!
As you make your post-Holy Cross plans, keep in mind that your F-1 visa will expire and you will need to depart the United States within 60 days of your May program end date--unless you have applied for an extension.
There are two ways to apply for an F-1 visa extension: (1) transfer your I-20 to a full-time graduate or professional program or (2) apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
REMEMBER: You cannot work in the U.S. without authorization! Special rules apply to unpaid ("volunteer") work, so check with OIS before you accept ANY job offer.
Transfer Your I-20 To A Full-Time Graduate Or Professional Program
After you have received a written notice of admission to a full-time program you must complete the required paperwork to have your I-20 transferred from Holy Cross to your new school. Many graduate and professional schools use on-line forms that are readily available via web search (e.g., "University Name, F-1 Transfer In form"). If you do not find one, request it (or ask for the proper "SEVIS code") from the international student office of your new school. Print and complete the form and bring it, along with your letter of admission, to the Office of International Students for processing.
After your I-20 is transferred to the new institution Holy Cross will no longer have access to your SEVIS records. Moreover, after you depart the U.S. you will require a new I-20 or visa before you can re-enter the U.S.
Please refer to "Important Dates for the Class of 2022" (PDF) for information about deadlines for seniors going to graduate/professional school.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Eligibility for OPT is a benefit of maintaining F-1 status. If USCIS grants your application for OPT you are authorized to work in the United States for a period of 12 months in a job directly related to your major. You may apply for OPT as early as 90 days prior to and as late as 60 days after your program end date. Please refer to the OPT Overview / Timeline (PDF), below, and "Important Dates for the Class of 2022 (PDF)" (available later this fall) for additional information. SPECIAL COVID-19 NOTE: You must be inside the U.S. to apply for OPT; you CANNOT apply from abroad.
USCIS takes months to process OPT applications so it is best to apply early in February. Contact Dean Tina to request access to a recorded workshop (with slides) that provides an overview of OPT and sign up for a 30-minute appointment to discuss your plans, however tentative. OPT appointments will be available starting December 1, 2021 for the Class of 2022.
REMEMBER: You cannot work in the U.S. without authorization! Special rules apply to unpaid ("volunteer") work, so check with OIS before you accept ANY job offer. It is solely your responsibility to ensure that you double check and abide by all USCIS dates and deadlines.
The following information is intended as guidance to help you understand OPT and the application process.
- You do NOT need to have a job in order to apply for OPT! You must, however, be within the U.S.; you CANNOT apply for OPT from abroad.
- Overview/Timeline of the OPT process (PDF)
- Guidelines/schedule for the OPT process (PDF)
- Please review the OPT Student Acknowledgement Form (PDF), which you will be required to sign before your OPT application can be processed.
- USCIS official OPT website **USCIS updates this page frequently so be sure to refresh your screen and/or clear your browser's cache before using the USCIS OPT website and links.**
- OPT application checklist (PDF)
- OPT Employment Information form (for students already approved for OPT) (PDF)