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Depending on your plans after graduation, there are steps you’ll need to take if you remain in the United States or before you leave the country. Here are some tips to help you get organized!

Remember that you have a limited window of time after completing your program. F-1 students have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S., and J-1 visa holders have a 30-day grace period.

What if I’m continuing at Cornell?

If you are planning to begin a new degree program at Cornell after graduation, you’ll need to update your I-20 or DS-2019.  

What if I plan to study at a different school? 

If you are planning to begin a new degree program at another U.S. university after graduation, you’ll need to let us know which school you will be attending and its SEVIS code. Contact us as soon as possible! 

You have a brief grace period (60 days for F-1 students and 30 days for J-1 students) after graduation if you need more time. 

Can I extend my visa to pick up my stuff?

If you do not plan to remain in the United States for work or another degree program, but you need to reenter the country to pick up stored belongings, you may enter the United States as a B-2 tourist or using an ESTA waiver. 

Leaving the Country

If you are leaving the country within your grace period, our checklist can help you get organized! Here are the top things you need to do before returning home. 

  1. Change your address with the U.S. Post Office. Share your mailing address and preferred email with friends, professors, student groups, and professional associations.  
  2. End your data plan and make sure your final bill is paid. If you have a land line, contact the phone company to disconnect your telephone. Notify utility companies (NYSEG, cable, etc.). Ask if you can pay the bills before you leave. 
  3. Clear all accounts. Call credit card companies to see if you can make outstanding payments before you leave. Close your bank account or look into maintaining a small balance, if you wish to keep your U.S. account. 
  4. File any medical insurance claims that are still outstanding. Pay the balance that you owe. Note when your health insurance expires to see if you are leaving the United States after this date. 
  5. Clear your bursar account, so your diploma and transcripts can be released. Order and pay for transcripts, if you will need them. Make arrangements to have your diploma sent to you, if you do not receive it before leaving. 
  6. Give the alumni affairs office your permanent address. Find out about Cornell Clubs in your home country to stay connected!  
  7. If you worked on campus, update your home address in Student Essentials, so that you will receive your W-2 form. If you worked off campus, give your employer a forwarding address where the W-2 form can be sent.  
  8. Return any department or work keys. 
  9. If you checked out books or other materials from the library, be sure to return them. Fines are imposed on missing books, and the university does not release transcripts or diplomas until the fines are paid in full. 
  10. Return any other items you may have borrowed. If you have household items to pass on, donate them to other international students or scholars, or ask your friends to share them with new arrivals. 
  11. If you are taking a computer or technical equipment home, find out if you will need an export license. Consult your country's embassy to determine what other customs regulations may apply when taking your belongings home. 
  12. Check out of your dorm or apartment. Leave a forwarding address. Return your keys, and request the return of your security deposit, if any. 

Next Up: Visas after Graduation