Graduating “In Absentia” means that you will complete your degree requirements as a non-registered student. Not sure what this means? For example, say you complete your thesis after the summer semester submission deadline but before fall classes begin. You then apply for in absentia graduation: you will not be a student at UT Austin for the fall semester, but your degree will be conferred at the end of fall semester. For some students this is a viable option. However, international students need to know how this may affect their immigration status.
In order to be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) you must enroll in a class at UT Austin in your final semester. If you apply to graduate in absentia you are, therefore, not registered at UT Austin in the semester which you graduate. As a result, you would need to apply for OPT based on the previous semester’s graduation date. This also means that your grace period begins from the previous semester’s graduation date, not the date you actually earn your degree.
As you can see, this can be a tricky situation. If you are considering in absentia graduation, we encourage you to make an appointment with an International Student Advisor. It’s good to review all the facts before you make your decision.