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I am finishing my Master in a foreign country on a student Visa. The Visa will expire in one and a half month, the exact time I was appointed to receive graduation, but my Thesis supervisor wants me to stay one additional month to "finish" the Thesis. Indeed, he says he won't accept it if I don't stay to include additional verification, rendering me unable to fulfil my graduation requirements.

I have asked for support at the International Office of my University, but it seems nothing can be done at this point to extend the Visa. I should have begun the process at the beginning of the semester if I needed an extension. Therefore, I am facing the imminence of being deported, not to mention that: 1. Without a valid student Visa the University can't award me my degree. 2. If I remain in the country, I will become homeless because my student's room contract will end at the same time that my Visa and, as a foreign student, I don't have enough money to rent a room on my own.

I had a tense relation with him after one month on my thesis. He wasn't particularly interested in my Thesis (poor communication, not interested in students benefit but on his project, disappeared for months and then reappeared totally disconnected, etc.), but I remained because of his prestige and fear of losing one complete year of preparation in the field. This is the worst moment in our relation. On his criteria, I have been lazy and put myself in this situation. Either way, I have to solve it now or lose two years of hard work and spent money.

How can I solve such situation? How can I make my a Professor aware that there is bureaucratic world beyond academia, that I don't have the same privileges as a national of his country? Maybe a foreign student had a similar problem and can give me advice or tell his/her experience...

Edit: I have to mention that my supervisor has a legal/financial obligation on the project I am part of henceforth comes his worry.

  • Is there a deadline for the submission of Master theses? Do you know how many people will assess your theses? – Dmitry Savostyanov May 11 '15 at 21:02
  • @Dmitry Savostyanov There isn't an specific deadline, but I have to submit it in 15 days to get the degree in one month (originally my appropriate time of graduation). Students must submit the thesis in their last year and some ask for extension, but that can't be my case. Even if the thesis is assessed by other Professors, it must contain the approval of the thesis director. – will88 May 11 '15 at 21:03
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    Do I understand correctly that you told your supervisor clearly that you have to leave the country due to visa issues, and thus cannot finish your degree if it takes an extra month? – Ana May 11 '15 at 22:02
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    Do not get deported. Whatever happens, make sure you are out of the country before your visa expires. If you are not, it is possible that you are never allowed back into the country. – Jeremy Miles May 11 '15 at 23:28
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    Maybe the title is a little misleading to readers. It asks how to make him aware of your visa issue, but it sounds like you have successfully done this; what you want to know is how to convince him to accommodate you. – Nate Eldredge May 12 '15 at 4:46
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You ask the community for advice, but the only person who can accommodate you in completing the project is the professor in question. Since you have a prior working relationship with this person, you are entitled to tell him or her that your visa is expiring. A problem has arisen in the timely completion of your project, and you believe that it can still be resolved.

This problem can be phrased as a request for advice: what should you do now to finish this project responsibly, given the legal constraint? What resolution would your advisor like to see, and would he or she accept a compromise to continued physical presence, like scheduled meetings over Skype? Most people react positively to being given a choice, and if your advisor is an empathetic human, he or she may still give you a chance to submit your thesis. getting your work accepted isn't graduation itself, but since it is a prerequisite for graduation, it has to be addressed before the issue of the granting of the degree.

  • The comments below the question suggest that the asker has proposed such alternatives, and the advisor categorically refused. – Nate Eldredge May 13 '15 at 17:17
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Have you tried talking to your department? The department chair, for example. Doing something at the University end would be much easier than the government end. It sounds like there is no major intrinsic problem as such, just your adviser being unhelpful and inflexible. Join the club. However, it is quite possible that if the department (read, this person's colleagues) intercedes, that this person could be persuaded to be more reasonable. I've been in not dissimilar situations before, (and heard and seen similar problems faced by other people) and while faculty don't really care much about students, they also aren't really interested in having disasters happen to their students, especially if they are easily preventable. For one thing, it is bad publicity.

I agree with others that you should definitely not overstay. If it comes to it, much better to upset your adviser (and possibly the university) than the govt. It might also be worth finding out if there is any student level organization that can intercede on your behalf. Other possibilities include the Graduate School itself. But your own department is clearly the best bet.

Without knowing more about your situation, and just based on what you have said, it sounds like finishing your degree requirements remotely is your best bet. And again, based on what you have said, the main obstacle to this is your adviser. Though it is not clear (to me at least) whether he is the only obstacle.

It sounds like you should have made sure that your visa status was in order before all this happened. While this was clearly a mistake, it clearly is unreasonable for the department and university to punish you for what was, at worst, an oversight on your part. And such bureaucratic issues are easily overlooked when one is busy trying to finish a degree. One could argue that someone at the university should have been taking some interest in your visa status, but I don't know if taking that line would do you any good.

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