Completing Your Program at SF State

Prepare to Return Home

Paying SF State Bills

  • Pay any outstanding campus financial obligations such as tuition, housing fees, and library fines. Pay parking fines if students have received tickets. Log on to SF State Gateway and see if there is a need to pay anything before leaving.


  • If students have opened up a bank account in the U.S. and do not plan to keep it, students must make sure to communicate with their bank to close their account and transfer their money.

Phone Bills

  • If students have a U.S. phone number with a U.S. phone carrier, students must make sure to cancel their plan in order to avoid being charged for the number. If they would like to keep the number, explore options to keep it, such as transferring it to an online phone number.


  • If students have their name on any utility or other bills (such as water, electricity, internet, etc), students must make sure to end it or transfer it to their roommates, so that they are not liable for any charges.

Furniture, Car, Clothes, Other Personal Belongings

  • Students will have to decide what items they would like to sell or ship to their home country. When communicating with international shipping companies, inquire about cost, size/weight, insurance, and estimated shipping time.

Books & School Work

  • Students should reach out to their friends and classmates to see if they can sell some of their books. SF State bookstore may buy back some books.
  • Note that some Graduate Programs ask for writing samples; if students are interested in graduate school, they may consider keeping copies of some of their schoolwork for reference.

Move Out Notice

  • If students' leases are ending and/or if they are not on a lease, they will need to consider when is the best time to tell their landlord that they are moving out. The typical time frame is a 30 day notice.

Final Walk-Through

  • If students live off-campus they probably paid a security deposit to their landlord to cover any damage done to the apartment. A walk-through will help them and their landlord agree on whether their landlord should keep any of their security deposit.


  • Students' friends may stay in the U.S. or leave and return to their home countries; they will have personal and professional connections all over the world if they maintain these bridges. Take time to reach out to people and connect with each other.

Other SF State Students

  • Just because students did not connect during their studies, does not mean they cannot afterward; the SF State Alumni network is available for them to keep in touch with the university and other alumni.
  • Did students receive help from someone else when they were at SF State? Are they hoping to give back and be the help they wanted as a student? Gator Connect is an online platform that connects alumni with current students to have career conversations and build professional networks.

Faculty / Staff

  • Students should take time to reflect and consider if any faculty or staff made an impact in their educational journey, either professional, academic, or personal. Reach out to these people to let them know. It is nice to feel appreciated and it is nice to keep a connection, so if they ever need an academic reference for graduate school, they already have some people in mind.

F-1 International Students

Making Sure Students Are Eligible to Graduate

International students are required to pursue full-time study in the programs indicated on their I-20s.  It is possible to take additional classes for personal enrichment BEFORE students complete the program on their I-20, but not after. 

What is the 60-Day Grace Period?

  • Students are eligible for a 60-day grace period starting from the “Grades Available on SF State Gateway” date posted on the Registrar's website.  This does not apply if they have applied for OPT.

What Can Students Do During the Grace Period?

  • If students have applied or will apply for OPT:

    • Once they apply for OPT, they may stay in the U.S. on "Pending OPT" status as long as their case is pending. Once their OPT is approved, they may stay in the U.S. on "Approved" OPT status. Students are not using their 60 day grace period in this case. OIP Recommends students apply for OPT 90 days before the “Grades Available on SF State Gateway” date.
    • Please follow the OPT website for application deadlines. Review all of the information to learn about the processing time, unemployment days, how to choose a start date, and what documents to submit to OIP.
    • If students are interested in OPT and traveling after graduation, they should talk to an F-1 international student advisor before booking their flights. 
  • If students plan to pursue another academic program in the U.S. right after graduating from SF State

    • If students wish to attend another academic program in the U.S., they must contact OIP and request their SEVIS record to be released to their new school within their 60 day grace period.  There is no exception to this rule.  Students should follow I-20 Transfer Procedures so OIP can release their SEVIS record to their new school. 
    • If students plan to transfer to another academic program here at SF State they will have to receive an I-20 with their new academic program. 
  • If students will not apply for OPT and/or transfer to another school

    • Students will not need to do anything regarding their F-1 status.  They should plan to leave the U.S. before their 60-day grace period ends. 
    • Students' SEVIS record and their I-20 will automatically change from “Active” status to “Completed” status upon the end of their 60-day grace period. 
    • Students are not allowed to work or take a course if they are not on OPT or not transferring to another school. 

How Long Can Students Continue to Work on Campus?

  • Students are allowed to work on-campus up to the “Semester End Date” posted on the Academic Calendar for the semester that they are graduating. There are no exceptions even if they have applied for OPT.
  • Domestic students are allowed to work during the summer after graduation, but F-1 international students may not due to immigration restrictions. Their on-campus employer may not be aware of this restriction for F-1 international students, so students need to let their on-campus employer know about this immigration restriction for F-1 students. 

Can Students Leave the U.S. and Return During the Grace Period?

Before traveling

  • Students must decide if they are interested in applying for OPT.  They must apply for OPT before they leave the country during their 60-day grace period.
  • If they will leave the U.S, students should book their flight back home early so they have a deadline of when they must leave. We recommend students to not wait until the very last day to fly home. If there are any flight delays due to weather or other reasons, their F-1 records will automatically complete and they will not have a valid F-1 status to stay in the U.S.
  • Students must check to make sure their Passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond their desired travel date.  They might not be able to board the plane if they do not have a valid passport.

Traveling within the U.S. during the 60 day grace period

  • F-1 International Students are allowed to travel within the U.S. during their grace period. They do not need a signature on their I-20 to travel domestically.
  • Depending on where their future takes them, it may be a little while before they will return to SF State, San Francisco, or the Bay Area. Students should try to re-visit some of the places they will miss! Also, students should take advantage of their free time and visit the different cities in the U.S. that they have always wanted to see!

Travel outside of the U.S. during the 60 day grace period

  • If students leave the U.S. during their grace period, their SEVIS record will be automatically completed, and they will not be able to re-enter the U.S. on their I-20.
    • For example, Alice’s program ends on June 3, and her 60-day grace period will begin on June 4. Alice has decided to go to Canada for a week (June 15 to June 25) and wants to return to the U.S. to move out of her apartment by June 30, her housing lease end date. If Alice leaves the country on June 15, she will not be able to return to the U.S. on June 26 after her trip to Canada, because she left the country during her grace period.
  • If students are interested in OPT and traveling after graduation, they should talk to an F-1 international student advisor before booking their flights.
  • Students have access to Career Services & Leadership Development (CSLD) resources as an alumni!
  • If students are interested in OPT, it is time to apply for OPT and find a job.  Visit the Career Services & Leadership Development (CSLD) for more information on Resume, Cover letter, Interview Skills, Networking, Salary Negotiations, etc. 
  • If students will not be applying for OPT and will return to their home country for employment, we highly recommend that they write down the highlights and key challenges that they have experienced during their time in the U.S, and how they overcame them. Students could use these stories to help them stand out among their peers during interviews back home!

J-1 Exchange Students

Academic Training

Many J-1 exchange students choose to apply to participate in Academic Training after their period of study ends, as doing so allows them to work full-time (only part-time Academic Training is allowed while classes are in session). Students approved for full-time Academic Program will receive a new DS-2019 with extended program end dates. To learn more about Academic Training eligibility, please review the Academic Training section of the OIP website.

IMPORTANT: Students participating in Academic Training after the end of their academic program must begin Academic Training no more than 30 days after the end of their academic program (as indicated on the student’s original Form DS-2019). 

Grace Period

Upon completion of their program, J-1 visa holders receive a 30-day grace period before they must leave the U.S.  During the grace period, J-1 visa holders may travel within the United States, but they may not leave and re-enter the United States with their expired DS-2019 immigration document. Additionally, working and participating in other academic programs are not permitted during the student’s grace period. 


At the end of each semester, OIP sends paper copies of exchange students’ official transcripts to their home universities. Generally, transcripts do not become available until several weeks after the end of the semester, after which it may take additional time for OIP to receive and mail them. Therefore, students’ patience is appreciated. J-1 exchange students do not need to request that their SF State transcripts be sent to their home universities, this is done automatically by OIP. 

Students may learn when transcripts will become available for a specific semester by visiting the Academic Calendar. Additionally, students may request transcripts for personal use through the Registrar’s Office.

Last updated: December 2021

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