Program Completion Checklist

This checklist is a resource for degree-seeking students who have completed all program requirements and exchange/VISP students at the end of their studies at UW-Madison.

F-1/J-1 international students who have maintained their status have a grace period at the end of their studies. F-1 students earn a 60-day grace period, and J-1 students earn a 30-day grace period. Email ISS of your departure plans if you are leaving before the end of your program.

Please review either the checklist below or the PDF version of the checklist to learn what you are eligible to do as well as tasks you may need to complete to wrap up your stay in the U.S. during your grace period:

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Return Home

  • Ensure that your passport is valid. If expired, contact your home country consulate immediately to renew before you depart.
  • Inform your family and friends at home of your arrival date.
  • Check the airline’s luggage weight/size regulations and cost for overweight/extra bags. These specifications can vary by airline and country of destination.
  • Arrange transportation to the airport. Make sure to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure.

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • If you are a degree-seeking F-1 international student, then you may be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). Attend an OPT workshop online to start the application process.
  • You must be physically present in the U.S. as an F-1 student to submit your OPT application to USCIS. The application still requires your I-94 record.
  • Ask for reference letters from your professors, advisor, and supervisor.
  • Join professional organizations (national/international) in your field of study/interest.

Academic Training (AT)

  • If you are a J-1 international student, then you may be eligible to apply to work using the Academic Training benefit. You can learn more about Academic Training by speaking with an advisor during our walk-in advising hours or reviewing the J-1 Employment page of our website.
  • Ask for reference letters from your professors, advisor, and supervisor.
  • Join professional organizations (national/international) in your field of study/interest.

Begin a New Program at UW-Madison

The following option should generally be done during the 30-day grace period for J-1 students if the new program has the same academic objective and during the 60-day grace period for F-1 students:

  • Change of Education Level to continue another academic program at UW-Madison
    • You are eligible to transfer your record if you complete your Spring 2020 semester. The request must be submitted and processed during your 60-day grace period. Your new program of study must begin within five months of when your Spring 2020 semester ends. ISS uses a program end date of May 18, 2020 for all students.
    • Submit ISS’s Change of Level form once you have been accepted into a new program at UW Madison at a different academic level. The form can be found in Terra Dotta.

Transfer-out to another SEVP-certified School

This option should generally be done during the 30-day grace period for J-1 students if the new program has the same academic objective and during the 60-day grace period for F-1 students:

  • Once you have been accepted into a program at another U.S. institution, we can schedule the transfer of your SEVIS record after you submit our online form with your new admission letter and the new institution’s transfer-in form (if applicable). The transfer-out form can be found in Terra Dotta.
  • You are eligible to transfer your record if you complete your Spring 2020 semester. The request must be submitted and processed during your 60-day grace period. Your new program of study must begin within five months of when your Spring 2020 semester ends. ISS uses a program end date of May 18, 2020 for all students.

Change Your Visa Status

  • Come to the ISS office during walk-in advising hours if you are interested in changing your visa status to F or J. ISS can only provide advice on F and J visas.
  • Review the legal resources on our website if you are interested in changing to any other visa status.

UW-Madison

  • Review and clear any holds listed in your Student Center.
  • Update your Diploma Address through your Student Center.
  • Request an official transcript from the University.
  • Request a copy of your (and your dependents’) health records through UHS.
  • Check with your supervisor/employer about the office’s departure procedure if you are employed. You many need to return department keys and work files, cancel listserv subscriptions, etc.
  • Set up automatic forwarding for your student email account.
  • Sign up for a free alumni email account.
  • Transfer any valuable files from your UW-Madison OneDrive, Box, and G Suite accounts to another location, otherwise all files stored using those services will be lost when you leave.
  • Exchange contact information with your friends, classmates, advisor, and supervisor.
  • Join the Wisconsin Alumni Association and learn about the network in your home country.

Wrap Up Your Housing and Family

  • Confirm the move-out date from your residence hall or rental agreement. Check the obligations you agreed to in your lease.
  • Inform your landlord of your move-out date and set an inspection date. 
Confirm with your landlord the procedure to be reimbursed for your security deposit.
  • Arrange for your utilities to be disconnected by your move-out date.
  • Donate or sell your unneeded furniture, personal items (i.e. clothes) or automobile. If you sell your automobile, make sure to transfer the title to the new owner and remember to cancel your automobile insurance. You can donate clothes to many local charities (Salvation Army, Good Will, Society of St. Vincent de Paul). You can sell items in a garage sale or online (Craigslist).
  • Send any belongings home. 
NOTE: the U.S. Post Office no longer offers surface mail shipping service, (only airmail available). 
Check out your local grocery or liquor store for free boxes.
    • If you are moving elsewhere in the U.S., you can set up mail forwarding through the U.S. Postal Service. This does not work with mail sent to you by the federal government (i.e. USCIS). Mail forwarding services are not available overseas.
  • Cancel any newspaper or magazine subscriptions.

If You Have Dependents

  • If you have children attending a local school or daycare, confirm your child’s last day of attendance and request a copy of their school records.

Financial

  • Pay any outstanding medical bills.
  • Pay any outstanding balance on UW-Madison accounts.
  • Pay any outstanding bills (utilities, housing, etc.)
  • Close your bank & credit card accounts and transfer money to a home bank account if you are leaving the country.

Government Documents

  • Keep all old & current immigration documents together in a safe place. Do not destroy these documents. You may need these documents if you plan to return to the U.S. or apply for another U.S. immigration benefit in the future.
  • If you have a Wisconsin state driver’s license, inform the DMV of your change of address within 60 days of departure from the state.
  • Leave your home mailing address and personal email with your current employer. Your employer may need to send you your W2 Statement for tax purposes.
  • Check current tax information at the federal and state level:

This applies to those who have been in the U.S. for a brief period as well as those who have not been employed in the U.S. If you resided in the U.S. during the calendar year, you still have a responsibility to file taxes by the following April, even if you are outside the U.S.

Our checklist was adapted from International Student and Scholar Services at University of Minnesota.