Understand Duration of Status and Grace Periods

F-1 students are admitted to the United States for a time period called Duration of Status (D/S), covering the time when they are pursuing a full course of studies, plus any authorized optional practical training (OPT) after completing their studies.

D/S has three "grace periods" that determine when new students can enter the county and how long they can stay in the US:

  1. An F-1 student may enter up to 30 days before the program start date listed on Form I-20.
  2. An F-1 student may remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond completing the program of study, and up to 60 days beyond the completion date of any authorized OPT.
  3. An F-1 student who has been granted an authorized early withdraw from classes has 15 days to depart the US after the withdrawal date.

If you are transferring to another U.S. school, you are not required to start your new program within that 60-day-grace period. But you must start it within five months from the end of the semester or the date your record was transferred, whichever is earlier.

If you request a transfer to another US school in the middle of the semester, you have no grace period. You need to start studying at your new school immediately.