Your Final Term and Beyond

I-20/DS-2019 Program End Dates

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Graduating earlier than the program end date on your I-20 /DS-2019?

Let us know if you will be graduating earlier than the program end date on your I-20 /DS-2019. We need to update your record and you need to be aware of deadlines. Contact us via email:

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Need more time to complete your program?

You must request this extension before your current I-20/DS-2019 expires. Follow the instructions at Extending Your Current Program.

Grace Period to Remain in the U.S. After I-20/DS-2019 Program End Date

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Leave the U.S. before your grace period expires

The grace period allows you to remain in the U.S. past your program end date to get ready to leave, travel within the U.S or apply for a change to another status. You may not engage in any form of employment during your grace period.

F-1 Grace Period: 60 Days
Does not apply while your OPT application is pending with USCIS. You may remain in the US for as long as it takes USCIS to adjudicate your request. You will have a 60-day grace period after your authorized OPT expires.

J-1 Grace Period: 30 Days
Does not apply if you have applied for J-1 Academic Training. You will have 30 days after your Academic Training expires to prepare for departure.

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Leaving and Returning to the U.S. during Grace Period

If you are have not applied for F-1 Optional Practical Training or J-1 Academic Training, you cannot return to the U.S. in F or J status status during the grace period. 

If you need to return during the grace period, you may be able to return as a visitor in B-1/B-2 status or under ESTA, but in this case you would no longer be eligible to apply for F-1 OPT or J-1 AT upon your return because of entering the U.S. in a different status.

Inviting Friends & Family to Graduation

When you invite your family and friends to visit you for graduation or at any other time while you're at Columbia, they might need your help getting a visa.

Check if your guests are eligible to apply for the visa waiver program (ESTA). If they are not, they may apply for the B-2 visitor visa.

For more details and information, including a list of documents you need, check our page below.

Moving Out of Columbia Housing

Moving out can be as stressful as moving in. Review the information below to be prepared for what you need to do and when. Most housing agreements end May 31.

Staying in the U.S. for Further Studies

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Starting a new academic program at Columbia.

Extend your F-1 or J-1 status by applying for a new I-20/DS-2019 for the new program before the end of your grace period. Follow the instructions at Beginning a New Program.

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Starting a new academic program at another U.S. school.

Transfer your SEVIS record before the end of your grace period. See instructions at:

Health Insurance After Graduation

Your Columbia student health insurance coverage ends December 31st if you complete your program in the fall semester, and August 14 if you graduate in May. It is important in the U.S. not to have a gap in coverage. Columbia Health provides a video on Insurance Options After Graduation. Also, here are some health insurance plans for international clients. 

Staying in the U.S. to Work in F or J Status

As a graduating student in F or J status you may be eligible for 12 months or more of authorization to work in the U.S in your field of study after the completion of your program. Learn how to apply and how to comply with the terms of your status.

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Apply for OPT or AT

Learn how to apply in your final term for employment authorization in your field of study to begin after graduation:

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Comply with F-1 OPT/STEM OPT Requirements


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Comply with J-1 AT Requirements

Obtaining and Filing Tax Forms After You Leave

You can continue to use Sprintax tax software as a Columbia graduate for a free nonresident federal tax return when you log in from our website with your UNI and password. You are a “nonresident alien” for your first 5 tax years in F/J status in the U.S. Check our tax pages in late February/early March. The deadline for a tax return is usually April 15th.

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Did you work this year?

If you worked in the past year, give your address to your department or payroll (and any other employers) to get the W-2 that you’ll need to file your tax return, usually by the end off January. We recommend you arrange for an electronic copy of the W-2. Check this list of Year End Tax Reporting Documents to see if there is anything else to follow up on.

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Did you receive a stipend or travel grant from Columbia this year?

If you received a fellowship/scholarship stipend or travel grant from Columbia, learn about the 1042-S form you may receive by March 15th next year. Contact the Human Resources Service Center by submitting this ServiceNow Form or by calling the HR Service Center at 212-851-2888.

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Check back on Taxes!

Log in to Sprintax with your UNI and password from our website for a free nonresident federal tax return. If you are still a nonresident, don’t file a resident tax return through TurboTax or similar software and commit tax fraud in error! If Sprintax informs that you have become a "resident alien". check our webpage on resources for Filing a Resident Tax Return.

Staying Connected to Columbia

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Official Transcripts

It may be advantageous to get extra transcripts while you are still in the United States. Request them through Columbia Student Service Online (SSOL). Be sure to clear your student account so your diploma and transcripts can be released and you don’t accrue late fees.

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Stay current on immigration and other news through ISSO. The ISSOnews is sent to enrolled students, and graduating students are kept on the mailing list for 60 days after their completion date, but you can keep up in these ways: 

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Your Columbia Email Address

Morningside: LionMail email accounts do not expire for graduates of non-medical programs. There are also options for an Alumni Association email account and email forwarding. Learn More 

CUIMC: Student accounts "" are deleted 90 days after graduation, but Columbia offers alumni a lifetime email address and email forwarding,  Learn More

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Columbia Alumni Association

Join the Columbia Alumni Association for social and networking opportunities in NYC and around the world! 

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Columbia Library for Life!

Be sure to return library books. Alumni enjoy free lifetime access. Learn more at Columbia Libraries website.