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Graduation Checklist

Checklist of To-Do’s before Graduation

  • Always Keep Copies of Your Documents

    Even the ones that don’t seem important. Old I-20s, past tax forms, everything! You will need these in the future if you ever apply for other visas in the US, graduate school, get audited for taxes, etc.

  • Complete ISP Senior Surveys

    ISP invites you, your immediate family, your host family, and/or your significant other to the graduation reception for members of the ISP community every year either in the ballroom in Kagin Commons or remotely. Please let us know if you will attend and the people who will be joining you. If you are inviting your host family, please confirm with them first, then complete the form with the names of those who will attend. If you are inviting with more than 8 people please reach out to [email protected] to make special arrangements.

    ISP will offer graduation sashes featuring country flags that you can wear during Commencement (to see an example please go to Order form will be sent out in the spring and ISP will cover part of the cost of each sash for those students on F-1 visa.

    We need to gather this information both so that we keep it in our records and so that we can prepare the booklet for the international student graduation reception! If you want to see what it looks like, please stop by ISP to read the ones from previous years.

  • Check Your Credits

    During your last semester, you only need to take the amount of credits required for you to graduate (i.e. 1 credit if that is all you need). However, you must report that to Luyen, Britt, or Molly.

  • Notify ISP of your Post-Macalester Plans

    Make sure to find a time to discuss and notify Luyen, Britt, or Molly of your post-graduation plans. The three possible courses of action are:

    1. Applying for an OPT and seeking employment in the US
    2. Going to graduate school
    3. None of the above, leaving the US

  • If Applying for OPT

    Check out our OPT Page for application instructions and complete your application as soon as possible. Remember it can take 90-120 days for OPT to be authorized and you CANNOT start working until your OPT is approved. Also check the Career Exploration Tips And Resources for international students seeking employment in the U.S.

    While you are on OPT, make sure to notify ISP of any changes (name, address, phone, employment…) by completing the SEVIS Update Form so we can keep your SEVIS record updated.

  • If Attending U.S. Graduate School

    If you are attending another U.S. school in the fall, we need to transfer your SEVIS record (number remains the same) from Macalester to your new school, since only one school can control your SEVIS record at a time. Your new institution will have a ‘transfer release form’ online or as download; if not, provide ISP with proof of your acceptance to new school and the school’s SEVIS number. We have to transfer your SEVIS record after your graduation and no later than 60 days after that, unless you will be on OPT. If you are working on OPT before starting graduate school, keep in mind that OPT employment ends on the date your SEVIS record is transferred. If your F-1 visa has not expired, you should be able to use it to re-enter the U.S. to start your graduate program as long as you have the new school’s I-20; it doesn’t matter if Macalester’s is named on the unexpired visa.

  • If Going Home

    If you are neither working on OPT nor going to graduate school, you have 60 days after graduation to leave the United States. Once you leave, you cannot enter the U.S. with your student visa even if it is still valid, and you cannot apply for OPT.

  • Make Arrangements for Family/Loved Ones Visit

    If your family, friends or loved ones are visiting for graduation, you might need to help them with their visa application and other travel plans. Check out our Family Visit Page for information on visa application support and finding accommodations. Also, Commencement has its own page with Informations for Families Visitors , including details about parking and hotels with special rates for graduation season.

    Make sure they arrive early enough to be able to attend the International Student Graduation that ISP organizes. We will update with specific dates when we are closer to the end of the academic year.

  • Complete ITS Graduation Techlist

    Your Macalester email account will expire in August. Things like transferring all your emails and documents can take more time than you think! Check out and make sure to complete ITS’s Graduation TechList.

  • Change your Mailing Address

    Macalester forwards certain classes of mail (letters only, not packages) received for graduating seniors for 30 days after graduation. They do forward letters internationally. So that Mailing Services has your updated address, fill out their Mail Forwarding Form. if you don’t complete it, they will forward mail to your permanent address on file. Mail received after the forwarding period will be returned to sender.

    You can also change your address at USPS and have mail forward to you here. USPS however does not forward mail internationally. Make sure to contact your friends and any important parties (such as your bank and health insurance) with your new address.

    If applying for OPT, have your mail sent to ISP “in the care of” (c/o) ISP. U.S. Federal Mail cannot be forwarded and, if your address is outdated, it will be returned to the USCIS and destroyed. Also make sure to notify us so we can keep your SEVIS record updated by completing the SEVIS Update Form.

  • U.S. Bank Accounts

    You should decide whether you want to close your bank account or keep it open. If you are expecting a final paycheck from Mac (or other employer), tax refund, rent deposit refund, or have to write checks for OPT or something else, you might want to keep it open until money is received or payment is made. If keeping it open, update your address as needed and switch your statements to electronic format. Check with your bank, but some may allow you to complete paperwork now and contact them later to officially close the account.

  • MN Driver’s License Renewal

    If you have a Minnesota Driver’s License and intend to remain in Minnesota, you must provide proof that your admission status has been extended to the DVS. You can do this by providing an I-20 indicating OPT employment status or a new I-20 from the grad school in Minnesota you are attending. See the DVS’ “Status Check Information” form for more information. (*Note:  Starting October 1, 2023 applicants for standard Class D driver’s licenses do not need to provide proof of citizenship or immigration status to obtain a driver’s license or state ID. In fact, DPS is not allowed to ask applicants for Class D driver’s licenses about their citizenship or immigration status. However, you will need to double check with the DVS in how this law may impact you and more information will be available closer to October 1)

  • Taxes

    You must file taxes for every year you lived in the U.S. – which means that in the Spring of 2023, wherever you are, you must file taxes for 2022. To be prepared, make sure to:

    1. Update your email on Glacier Tax Prep to something other than your Macalester address.
    2. Let your employer know where they can send your 2021 W-2, 1099, or other income statements.
    3. Keep your residency status in mind. Students on F-1 visa are generally Non-Resident Aliens for tax purposes during their first 5 years in the U.S. Most of you arrived in 2019 and stayed through 2023. This means that when you file 2023 taxes you will still be filing as a Non-Resident Alien (forms NR). If you stay in the US two years after graduation, starting in the 2024 tax year you will be considered a Resident for Tax Purposes, which means you can file your taxes using the same forms that U.S. residents or citizens use. You may be able to use a commercial tax software to file your taxes online or print them out to be filed. See the bottom of ISP’s Taxes page.
    4. Social Security and Medicare Taxes: if you are a Non-Resident Alien for Tax Purposes (which most of you will be for tax year 2023, if you arrived in 2019) your employer should not be deducting or paying for your Social Security and Medicare Taxes at least until January 1, 2024. If you find out Social Security and Medicare Taxes are taken from your paycheck, talk to your employer to get a refund and if that doesn’t work then file the appropriate forms (link coming soon). Filing for refund through the federal government may takes months or a year. See the appropriate section in ISP’s Taxes Page.

  • Health Insurance

    Make sure you know when your current health insurance coverage ends and, if you are staying in the U.S. past that date, make arrangements for a new insurance plan. A lot of employers offer insurance through the company itself.

  • Rental Security Deposit

  • Student Loans

    If you took out student loans to pay for Macalester at any point, make sure to attend the exit interviews/information sessions and talk to Student Accounts to clear any paperwork and make sure you understand the repayment plans.