Congratulations! You are graduating from UC Riverside. What now? Here are some things to consider:
If you plan to invite family members for your graduation, you may want to request an invitation letter from our office. If so, please fill out a Request for Student Status Letter and drop it off at our office.
Also remember that if you are an F-1 or J-1 visa status student, your graduation date may be different than the program end date on your I-20. If you have questions about this, please contact our office.
Grace Period (F-1 and J-1 students only)
If you are an F-1 student, once you complete your program of study, you have a 60-day grace period. Within 60 days of your program completion date (which may differ from your graduation date), you must: 1) leave the U.S.; or 2) complete the transfer process, if you have been accepted into another program at a different school; or 3) apply for Optional Practical Training.
If you are a J-1 student, you have a 30-day grace period once you complete your program of study unless you have been authorized for Academic Training.
Once you have completed any authorized practical or academic training period, you will also have a grace period (60 days for F-1 students, 30 days for J-1 students) in order to leave the U.S. or transfer to another SEVIS-approved school (if you are eligible).
Whether you are on Optional Practical Training (OPT), changing your status, or returning home to obtain a job in your country, we have the following resources available for you to explore career options and obtain information about resumes:
Career Center at UC Riverside
Creating and Revising Your Resume
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students who have been in lawful student status for at least one academic year may be eligible for up to one year of immigration-authorized employment called Optional Practical Training (OPT). FAQs, instructions for applying, and the required forms are all located on our website.
We highly recommend you continue to maintain health insurance coverage for the duration of your OPT period.
Academic Training (AT)
J-1 students who have been in lawful student status for at least one academic year may be eligible for up to 18 months of authorized employment called Academic Training (AT). FAQs, instructions for applying and the required forms are all located on our website.
You are required to maintain health insurance coverage for you and your dependents for the duration of your stay as a J-1 student (including Academic Training).
Change of Status
If you are planning to apply to change your immigration status, please keep in mind that you should maintain your current immigration status until your application for your new immigration status is adjudicated. While our office cannot file the applications for you, we may be able to answer questions regarding general information about the I-539 Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status form.
Some general information regarding H-1B and J-1 visas may be found below. If you need assistance, please feel free to make an appointment with an advisor by calling 951-827-4113.
Transfer to another University
If you have applied to a program at another university and have been accepted, you should follow the F-1/J-1 transfer process to ensure your SEVIS record is released to the new school in a timely manner. Please review this webpage for forms and more information.
Reverse Culture Shock
You might have experienced culture shock when you first began your studies in the U.S. Cultural shock happens to people differently. It may include feelings of nervousness, restlessness, depression, loneliness and/or homesickness. You may have only felt it for the first week or for several months.
It is also normal to feel culture shock when you return to your home country. Part of this depends on the length of time you've been away, but it may also be affected by your experiences as an international student, which may or may not have changed you and your perceptions of your home country, as well as how your family and friends at home have changed while you've been gone.
It's important to remember that cultural adjustment takes time. You may have to form “new” relationships with family and friends you knew very well before you left. It is also important to keep in touch and continue relationships with colleagues and friends you met while in the U.S. Trade phone numbers or email with people with whom you want to keep in touch.
Extensions, Other Visa Options and FAQs
STEM 17-month OPT Extension
What is a STEM Extension and am I eligible for it?
The STEM Extension is an extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for an additional 17 months for students who meet specific eligibility requirements:
- in valid F-1 immigration status and in an approved, unexpired period of OPT
- completed a Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D. in a STEM field
- have a job or job offer from an employer registered with the E-verify system.
If you are on OPT and feel you may be eligible for a STEM Extension because you meet the eligibility requirements above, please review our STEM Extension FAQs sheet and contact our office to request assistance with applying for the Extension.
What is an H-1B and when do I need to apply for one to continue working in the U.S. after my OPT ends?
An H-1B is a non-immigrant work visa status that requires at least a bachelor's degree in a “specialty occupation” and an offer of employment by an approved company or academic institution as the employer. H-1B applications for employers subject to the “H-1B Cap” (discussed in more depth below) are accepted beginning on April 1st each year.
You must have an employer sponsor you for an H-1B. You should try to find a job as early as possible because the employer must complete all of the documentation for the petition in advance to have it ready to file on April 1st. In order to maintain your immigration status while remaining in the U.S., you should plan to apply for any change of status to H-1B before your OPT ends.
What is the difference between an H-1B and a J-1?
An H-1B is a work visa. A J-1 is an exchange visitor visa. There are many differences between these two statuses and the “pros and cons” of both should be discussed with the advisor/attorney from the company or institution that will assist you with applying for the change of status.
Two things our office suggests you check into include the 212(e) Two-year home residency requirement for some J-1 non-immigrants and the amount of time you will be employed.
What is the H-1B Cap and who is subject to it?
The H-1B Cap is a limitation on the number of H-1B workers approved each year. The current annual cap is 65,000, plus an extra 20,000 for Master's or Ph.D. applicants.
Academic institutions are not subject to the H-1B Cap. This means that there is no limitation to the number of H-1B approvals that may be issued where a higher education institution is the employer/petitioner.
What happens if my H-1B start date is after the last day of my 60-day grace period following OPT?
H-1B Cap petitions will always have a start date of October 1st and if your OPT is scheduled to end before August 1st, you may have a “gap” in your immigration status. Effective April 8, 2008, an interim final rule was published in the Federal Regulations giving eligible F-1 OPT non-immigrants the ability to extend their OPT to cover this gap if an H-1B petition was filed timely.
If your employer filed an H-1B petition on your behalf during your OPT period, you should contact our office to request a Cap-Gap Extension. You will need to provide us with a copy of your H-1B receipt so we can request the extension and give you an updated I-20 reflecting the extended employment authorization dates.
Other general information
Maintaining Important Contacts
During your stay in Riverside, it is possible that you will make acquaintances with important figures that could possibly assist you with your future career plans. Be sure to keep in good contact with these individuals, either through e-mail or telephone. You never know when it will come in handy to use your acquired networking.
Obtaining Your Social Security NumberSSN