It is your responsibility to maintain your immigration status while on OPT. 

Please thoroughly review the information below for important reminders regarding your status. Failure to maintain your status on OPT may result in invalidation of status, and/or could impact future immigration benefits like STEM Extension, H-1B petitions, or Permanent Residency cases. Be sure to check back for any updates.

Do Not Work Until You Receive Your EAD and The Start Date Has Passed:

If you work using your Post OPT, EAD card before having completed your program, you will be considered to be working illegally.

  • Working without legal status is a very serious offense. Requests for Reinstatement of your student status based on illegal work are usually denied by USCIS.
  • Denial of a Reinstatement application means that USCIS will revoke your OPT work authorization and request that you depart the country within a designated, limited period of time.
  • Working on “Post” OPT without having completed your program may also jeopardize a future H-1B petition.

All OPT employment must be in your field of study and for at least 20 hours per week

  • SEVP has recently issued guidance on determining a direct relationship between employment and a student's major area of study, putting the onus on the student and the International Student and Scholar Advisor (DSO) to confirm that all OPT work is in the student's field of study. Please review information about this guidance on our Immigration Updates Blog.
  • A student must work at least 20 hours per week in a qualifying position in their field of study to be considered employed. If a student has a variable schedule, within a month, it should average out to at least 20 hours per week.

Unemployment Days While on Post-OPT:

  • Post OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment.
  • Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any POST-Completion OPT carried out under the initial Post OPT authorization.
  • Students granted a 24-month OPT STEM Extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment during the total 36-month OPT period.

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