OPT: Reporting and Requirements

Reporting Requirements

Provide a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Upon receiving your EAD card from USCIS, you must return to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Request that you submitted to complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire will require you to upload a copy of your EAD card, both front and back in one document. This is a requirement of maintaining your status while on OPT. To return to this request, select the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Request listed in the My Records section of your ISS Portal Home Page.

Report new employment or changes to current employment within 10 days of the change

To submit your employment information, log in to your ISS Portal account and select F-1 Student Requests from the menu on the left side of the page, then click on OPT Employment Update from the menu choices on the next page. You will then be asked to select the term that you are making the request for.

Make sure to carefully review the Announcements and Instructions sections on the page that you are redirected to.

In order to provide OISA with the information needed to complete your request, you will need to complete the following sections and requests:

Signature Documents: This section will ask you to review and digitally sign documents with important information that indicate your understanding. Please be aware that these are legal documents. Please contact OISA if you have any questions before clicking the buttons to digitally sign these documents.

Questionnaires: Please complete the questionnaires to provide important information to OISA about your employment, unemployment, and status.

You can click the save button at the bottom of the form to save your answers as you go along but make sure you click the submit button to submit the information to your request.

When you have completed each section of the OPT Employment Update, click the Submit button at the top of the page.

If you start a request in the ISS Portal but are unable to complete it, you may return to this request at a later time. Do not start a new one. To return to an existing request, please go to your ISS Portal User Home Page.

Report changes in personal contact information

Report changes in personal contact information, including physical street address, email address, and telephone number, within 10 days of the change. You should also complete an AR-11 form to notify the USCIS of any change in your address. 

To submit changes in your personal contact information, log in to your ISS Portal account and select F-1 Student Requests from the menu on the left side of the page, then click on Address Update Request from the menu choices on the next page. You will then be asked to select the term that you are making the request for.

Make sure to carefully review the Announcements and Instructions sections on the page that you are redirected to.

In order to provide OISA with the information needed to complete your request, you will need to complete the following sections and requests:

Signature Documents: This section will ask you to review and digitally sign documents with important information that indicate your understanding. Please be aware that these are legal documents. Please contact OISA if you have any questions before clicking the buttons to digitally sign these documents.

Questionnaires: Please complete the questionnaire to provide important information to OISA about your current U.S. mailing address, U.S. physical address, U.S. phone number, and personal email address. You will also be asked to answer a questionnaire to determine your student status.

You can click the save button at the bottom of the form to save your answers as you go along but make sure you click the submit button to submit the information to your request.

When you have completed each section of the Address Update Request, click the Submit button at the top of the page.

If you start a request in the ISS Portal but are unable to complete it, you may return to this request at a later time. Do not start a new one. To return to an existing request, please go to your ISS Portal User Home Page.

Employment Requirements

Employment may be paid or unpaid but must total more than 20 hours per week to be considered full-time. Employment that is 20 hours or less per week counts toward the unemployment allotment.

All employment during OPT must be directly related to your academic major and suitable for someone with your degree level. Multiple jobs are allowed provided all meet this criteria. 

Post-Completion OPT Unemployment Days

  • You are allowed a total of 90 days without employment on OPT. The “clock” to count unemployment days begins on the start date of your EAD card.
  • Employment must begin within 90 days from the start date of your EAD card. If USCIS processes your OPT application after your requested start date, it may adjust the start date to the date your OPT was approved. That end date, however, will not be extended beyond 14 moths from your I-20 program completion date.
  • The 90 days of unemployment is an aggregate of all days without employment, including weekends and time between jobs. (This does not include vacations or sick days taken while employed.)
  • SEVIS keeps track of your unemployment days, based on the information you submit via the SEVP Portal.
  • If you accrue more than 90 days of unemployment, or if you forget to report and update your OPT employment to OISA, your F-1 SEVIS record may automatically terminate. A terminated SEVIS record cancels OPT authorization and requires you to leave the United States.

SEVP Portal

After OPT has been approved, you will receive an automated email from the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) giving instructions to activate your account in the SEVP Portal. This portal gives you the ability to directly view and edit some information in your SEVIS record. 

You can only access the SEVP Portal once you receive your EAD and your OPT start date has been reached. On the first day of your approved OPT (start date on your EAD) you will receive an email from Do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov containing an access link to the SEVP Portal. Click on the link and set up a unique password. In advance, you should add the email listed above to your Trusted Sender List (non-spam list). Please also check your spam/junk mail if you do not see an email in your inbox as of the start date of your EAD. You may access videos for step by step instructions on how to set up and use your account.

Please note that while students can and should update information within the portal, you are also still required to submit all updates and changes during OPT to OISA using the ISS Portal. If you have questions about SEVP Portal, check out the SEVP Potal Help webpage.

 

OPT FAQs

Can I work without pay while waiting for my EAD card?
Any activity that could be considered OPT employment cannot begin until you have your EAD card and are within the dates on the EAD card. You cannot work without pay for your prospective employer until your EAD card arrives.

Can I travel while my OPT application is pending?
Travel before OPT approval is not recommended. If your EAD card is delivered to your U.S. address before you return, we recommend that you obtain a scanned copy of the front and back of the EAD card rather than have the card itself sent to you.

What happens if my OPT is approved after the start date I requested on my I-20?
Generally, USCIS will adjust the start date on your EAD card to the date that USCIS approved your OPT. Regardless of when you are approved, F-1 regulations limit the extension of your OPT end date to 14 months after your program end date.

How long can I stay in the U.S. while my OPT application is pending?
The 60-day grace period does not apply to you once you have applied for OPT before the deadline. You are able to stay in the U.S. for as long as it takes USCIS to adjudicate your request.

Work Authorization FAQs

Here are common questions asked by employers and answers:

Q: Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?

A: Yes

International students on an F-1 visa have work authorization through Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. If you plan to work off-campus, you will need a work authorization.

Q: Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status?

A: Yes (with some exceptions)

International students would usually answer this question with “yes.” F-1 visa holders would need to change to other visa categories to continue to work after their work authorization through their F-1 visa expires.

Students may answer “no” if they are in the process of changing their status from a non-immigrant to an immigrant status. Be prepared to explain to potential employers why you would not need sponsorship in the future if you answer this question with a “no.”

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