Students who are close to completing all their degree requirements have much to think about. International students must be even more proactive in planning for degree or program completion, and how that will impact their immigration status.
An important thing for international students to consider is the difference between "Graduation", and "Completion of all degree requirements". A student may complete all degree requiremetns months and months prior to the actual graduation ceremony. For the purposes of immigration status, the only date that matters is the date on which all degree requirements are met. This is usually the date of your very last final exam, or the date you submit your thesis to the Graduate Program Office. The end date on your I-20 form or DS-2019 form is your "anticipated" program end date. If in fact you plan to submit your thesis months before this date - or finish all required exams and papers a term early, you may not simply stay in the U.S. Your effective end date is that earlier date, and you must take action.
Please see the links below for further information.