After Graduation

Information on this page is intended for those F-1 and J-1 visa holders who have completed their programs at Notre Dame and are in their post-completion period of work authorization (e.g. F-1 Optional Practical Training and J-1 Academic Training).

*PLEASE NOTE: If an F-1 or J-1 visa holder departs the US after their I-20 or DS-2019 program completion date without having applied for work authorization, their status will automatically complete and they will no longer be eligible to return in F-1/J-1 status or to apply for post-completion work authorization.

Travel in the U.S. and U.S. Territories

While traveling outside of the South Bend area, we recommend you carry:

  • Passport
  • I-94 record (reflecting your most recent entry to the U.S.)
  • I-20 or DS-2019

Though it is extremely unlikely students will be questioned while traveling domestically via car, train, or bus, having these documents provides immediate proof of lawful status in the U.S. As federal regulations allow Border Patrol agents some authority within 100 miles of any U.S. boundary, it is in students’ best interest to carry proof of lawful status in case they were to be stopped and questioned.

While a U.S. issued driver's license may be used to board a domestic flight, it is not evidence of lawful status in the U.S.

Travel Outside of the U.S.

If students leave the United States –even for a short trip– and will be returning to the University of Notre Dame to continue their studies, they will need the following immigration documents:

  • Passport valid at least 6 months into the future of when you plan to return
  • F-1/J-1 visa stamp that is unexpired and valid for further entries to the US
    • If the visa has expired and the student exits the US, they will need to apply for a new visa prior to returning (includes enrolled students and OPT/STEM OPT students)
    • See information about applying for a visa renewal here
  • I-20 or DS-2019
    • Most recent document that ISSA has issued to you
    • Has a valid travel signature
      • Signatures are valid for 6 months for F-1 students on OPT and STEM OPT, and 12 months for J-1 students on AT
  • EAD card or Employment Authorization Letter
    • An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the USCIS for F-1 students on OPT or STEM OPT; or
    • An employment authorization letter issued by ISSA for J-1 students on AT

Additional supporting documents that may be helpful to carry:

  • I-901/SEVIS fee receipt (if you have lost this document, you can reprint it through this page)
  • Employer Letter confirming the details of your employment and verifying that your employer knows you are traveling and expects you to return to continue working

Travel and OPT

After I-20 program end date, OPT application not submitted Departure from U.S. completes F-1 status. Student is no longer eligible to apply for OPT.
After I-20 program end date, OPT application PENDING Riskiest time to exit U.S., as USCIS may send a Request for Evidence (RFE). If student is not present in the U.S., they may not be able to respond within the deadline. If application is denied while the student is outside the U.S., their F-1 status is completed.
After I-20 program end date, OPT APPROVED

May return to U.S. to search for or begin employment.

  • a valid passport,
  • a valid F-1 visa,
  • an I-20 with travel validation signature signed by a DSO (page 2) within the preceding 6 months
  • EAD card
  • verification of employment from U.S. employer on official letterhead that includes the employment start date

Special Notes

  • For students on Post-completion/STEM OPT, the Employment Authorization (EAD) card states “Not valid for entry to the US” which means that it is not a sufficient travel document by itself; it must be carried alongside your other valid F-1 documents for entry into the United States.