Maintaining F-1 Status on OPT
When pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must maintain valid visa status.
For full details on this, and to find the necessary reporting forms, please see the Forms & Resources section of our website and look for the information under Student Employment Authorization Forms and Resources.
Maintaining F-1 Status
While in an active period of OPT, you must maintain your F-1 status. Maintaining your F-1 status while on OPT includes the following:
- Report any change in address, official name, email, or phone number within 10 days of the change.
- Do not have more than 90 days of unemployment. Unemployment is counted during the validity period of your work authorization (from-to dates on the EAD card).
- Be in a job that is directly related to your program of study.
- Be employed at least 20 hours per week. This may include the following:
- Paid employment
- Multiple employers
- Contract or independent contract
- Self-employed business owner (must show business license and evidence of engaging in business)
- Employment agency
- Unpaid or volunteer employment
- Report any change in employment.
- Ensure you have a valid I-20 travel signature (see page two of your I-20); NOTE: signatures are valid for 6 months once OPT is approved
Please note: It is your responsibility to keep your SEVIS record updated while in OPT status.
In addition to reporting your employment for the purposes of updating SEVIS, ISSS recommends that you keep all documentation associated with your employment for your personal records.
For international travel while on OPT, bring with you the following documents for reentry to the U.S.:
- I-20 with OPT recommendation and valid travel signature (this signature should be less than 6 months old at time of reentry)
- Valid passport (must have 6 months or more validity at time of reentry)
- Valid F-1 visa (if applicable)
- EAD card
- Evidence of employment (hire letter, pay stub, or other letter from employer)
- Evidence of ability to support yourself financially (bank statement/letter, hire letter with salary stated, pay stub, or a combination of any of these)
If you need to obtain an updated travel signature on your I-20, please fill out the Updated I-20 Request form found on our Forms & Resources page.
Updated on 3/01/2023