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Graduation Planning


Commencment2009 254Undergraduates

Undergraduates, if you enter the college as a first-time freshman you are normally given 48 months to complete your degree.  If you would like to complete it earlier, there is an approval process through Academic Advising with a rationale (finances alone are not usually a good enough reason).

Graduate School

If you are going directly to graduate school, you need to contact the OISS so that we can transfer your immigration record to your new institution.

Undergraduates and Graduates (BA & MA) 

OPT Application Process

Optional Practical Training (OPT) gives you a 12-month window to work and live in the United States.  You should apply for OPT prior to your graduation - the USCIS recently changed the rule so there is the possibility of applying up to 60 days after graduation [the OISS does not reccommend this - ask us and we will tell you].  We suggest 90-120 days before graduation in order to allow for adequate processing.  Typically this is the week following Spring Break.  It is up to you to choose the date your 12-month calendar will begin "ticking."  It must begin no later than 60 days after graduation.  You do not need a job offer in order to apply for OPT.  However, you have only 90 days to find employment after your EAD start date. Students will make appointments with the OISS and we will walk you through the process. SEE CPT & OPT Explained 

In order to apply for OPT, you must bring to your appointment:

  • 2"x2" passport style photos (2 of them)
  • A check or money order for $380, made out to "US Department of Homeland Security"
  • Every I-20 you have ever had
  • A valid passport (that has your visa stamped in it)

Our office will assist you in completing the I-765 application form and submitting the supporting documents. Once you have a "Notice of Action" Receipt you can check your case status.

17 month OPT Extension for STEM Majors

Students with STEM Majors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with current OPT/EAD card have the ability to extend the OPT if they are currently employed by an E-Verfied employer in their field of study.  The student will need to contact the OISS for the application process.  There will be another I-765 requiring another fee and more photos.  All student on the STEM Extension needs to contact the OISS every six-months during the OPT period.  Similar to the check-in we did during your time on campus. 

Reporting Data During OPT

We are now required to report data to the Department of Homeland Security during any period of OPT.  Therefore students student on OPT must report their home address, email address, place of employment and employer during their OPT period.  You must also report ANY changes within ten (10) days of the change.  We have a link to assist in this process.  See OPT REPORTING you also have ONLY 90 DAYS to find employment.  

NAFTA - TN Status

Graduating students from Canada and Mexico have another option available to them called TN status.  It is directly related to specific career paths, and it is closely monitored due to high level of abuse in the past. To learn more, about this career-based status, come to the OISS or click here.

Finding a Place to Live

For internationals, graduating also means having to find a new place to live in the U.S. Begin this process as early as possible and try to build a network of friends or extended family members who could share an apartment or let you share their home-base for at least a short while as you begin your search for a job.

Finding a Job

Presumably your resume and cover letters are in good shape.  If not, polish them up in the early spring semester.  Responding to ads is one part of the strategy, and you should also research companies on your own.  The Center for Career Development holds workshops, events and career fairs; make sure to take advantage of them. 

Insurance After Graduation

Your Manhattanville health insurance policy will end after graduation.  If you do not have benefits or a job, you should purchase health insurance on your own from a reputable company.  We suggest as an options.

Income Taxes after Graduation

There is an odd tax related "test for presence" -- if you have been in the U.S. longer than five year (no matter what your status) you are treated as a resident for tax purposes and you must file like a U.S. Citizen - we suggest purchasing one of the many tax prep software packages on the market.  If however, you have graduated in the normal four years and you are on your year of OPT - email us in February and we will give you a access to the non-resident alien software.

Sashes for commencement144 New York Apostille Notary Manhattan authentication image

Many students want to buy a sash of their home country flag to wear at commencement.

Apostille or Certificate of Authentication

Many countries require a U.S. diploma or other official documents be certified if you live or work overseas.  The Hague Convention of 1961 dictates which process to follow. Before you return homedownload IMPORTANT information about Apostille, Certificate of Authentication, or an Embassy Legalization