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Finishing Your Program

Finishing Your Degree or Program

The end date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019 is an estimate of the time it typically takes to finish your degree or program. This estimated time to completion is set when initially requesting an I-20 or DS-2019 from ISSS. 


  • If you finish your degree or program early (before your most recent I-20 or DS-2019 expires), please note that you may not remain in the US until the expiration of your I-20 or DS-2019. 
  • Don't forget to apply for graduation by the application deadline. Please note that your department may have additional applications and/or deadlines. Be sure to speak with your academic advisor about graduation.
  • Your on-campus work authorization generally ends on your estimated program end date. See information below for determining this date. 

Program End Dates

For IEP, AMP, undergraduate, certificate programs, exchange, and graduate/profession programs without a thesis/dissertation requirement, program completion dates are based on the last day of finals.

For graduate/professional students with a thesis/dissertation requirement, program completion dates are based on one of the following:

  • The last day of the semester in which you defend your thesis/dissertation
  • The date of defense
  • The last day of finals for any required courses (for OPT only)
Grace Periods

F-1 and J-1 students have a "grace period" and must take action to remain in the US. If no action is taken in a timely manner, the student must depart by the end of their grace period.

  • F-1 students have a 60-day grace period upon completion of their studies or at the end of their practical training.
  • J-1 students have a 30-day grace period upon completion of their studies or at the end of their academic training.

Options that Must Be Taken Before the Grace Period (F-1 and J-1)

  • Extension of I-20 or DS-2019. If you need more time to complete your degree/program, you may request an extension before your I-20 or DS-2019 expires if you have a compelling academic or medical reason. More information can be found on the F-1 Student or J-1 Student information page under Maintaining Your Status section. 
    For J-1 Students:

Options That May Be Taken During the Grace Period (F-1 only)

  • Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) while in the US. You may also start this process 90 days prior to your I-20 end date.
  • Apply for a Change of Education Level (F-1) to begin a new degree/program at WVU.
  • Apply for a Transfer Out (F-1) to another school to continue or begin a new degree/program at another institution.
  • Apply for a Change of Status to another nonimmigrant status. Be sure to contact an immigration attorney if you have questions about this option.

Please e-mail if you have question about your options or to receive further guidance.