F1 Students on OPT/STEM

Travel Information for Students on Post Completion Status


International Students who have a pending application for Post Completion Optional Practical Training (Post OPT) or for STEM Extension should not travel outside of the U.S. until they receive an approved Employment Authorization Document.    

If you travel during F-1 Post OPT status or STEM Status, you will need the following documentation in order to re-enter the U.S. with the proper F-1 status:
  • A valid Post OPT or STEM I-20 Form; 
  • A valid passport (valid 6 months beyond the expiration date of your Employment Authorization Card); 
  • A valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport.  If you need to renew your visa stamp while you are away from the U.S., be mindful of the fact that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will need to be convinced of your ties to your home country and intent to return after your Post OPT or STEM time. They might also subject you to Administrative Processing as mentioned above;
  • A letter from your Post OPT or STEM Employer.  The letter must be on original letterhead, have an original signature and have a current date.  It should include your name, title, and more importantly verification that you are still employed there along with a brief job description to verify that you are still working in your field of study.  
If you enter in “B” status,  you will cancel your F-1, Post OPT or STEM extension status and will no longer have work authorization.

Grace Period

F-1 students have a 60-day grace period beyond the completion date of their program and also beyond the completion date of the Employment Authorization Document

You may not work during this 60-day grace period, but you may apply to transfer to another F-1 academic program, or apply to a different non-immigrant status, as long as you remain in the U.S. during this process.  

If you depart the U.S. during the grace period, you will be unable to re-enter in F-1 or J-1 status.  You will need to have a new approved status and may need to renew or apply for a new visa stamp in order to re-enter the U.S.