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Departing the United States

Grace Period

Once your program or activity ends, your ability to remain in the country after the completion date will depend on your eligible grace period.

Please complete an ISO departure form to notify us of your plans:

When leaving the country, you will be asked to surrender any paper versions of the Form I-94 at the border or airport (if applicable). This form is processed to record your departure date and the end of your US immigration status (if you are leaving after your program end date or work authorization end date).

Most I-94s are now issued electronically and do not require surrendering physically.

Failure to Surrender Your Form I-94

If you were issued an I-94 (see above), you must submit your paper Form I-94 card upon leaving the United States in order to report the date of your departure (except for certain short-term visits to Canada or Mexico using Automatic Revalidation). Surrendering your paper Form I-94 card is especially important after completing your program at the University because doing so notes on your immigration records that you did not overstay your permissions.

Sometimes international students or scholars forget or are unable to surrender the card upon departure. If you failed to turn in your paper Form I-94 Departure Record, US Customs and Border Protection has a process in place for you to send the card, along with any documentation that proves you left the United States (e.g., plane ticket), to one of the following addresses:

If using the US Postal Service:
Coleman Data Solutions
Box 7965
Akron, OH 44306
Attn: NIDPS (I-94)

If using a private courier (such as FedEx or UPS):
Coleman Data Solutions
3043 Sanitarium Road, Suite 2
Akron, OH 44312
Attn: NIDPS (I-94)

Eligible Grace Periods

Students and exchange visitors who have maintained valid F-1 or J-1 status are eligible for a grace period after finishing their program. During this time, you may:

  • Travel within the United States and make plans to return home
  • Transfer your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to another school
  • Apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a Change of Status

You may NOT use an expired I-20 or DS-2019 to re-enter the United States during your grace period.

If you are leaving your program prior to completion, the grace period will be shortened or eliminated. In that case, you should leave the country or make other arrangements promptly.

Available grace periods for these categories are listed below:

Reason for departureF-1J1
Completion of program60 days30 days
Authorized withdrawal15 daysNone
Unauthorized withdrawalNoneNone

There are NO grace periods for other immigration categories, including H-1B and other temporary workers. Please discuss your departure plans with an ISO advisor in advance.