Q: How many times am I eligible for OPT?
A: A student is eligible for up to 12 months of full time OPT per academic level (Associate, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate). However, once a student has changed educational levels, he/she loses the privilege to engage in OPT for the lower educational level if he/she does not engage in OPT employment BEFORE changing levels.
Q: Does use of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) affect my eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
A: In some cases, yes. Use of full time CPT for 12 months or more eliminates the participant’s eligibility for OPT. However, use of less than 12 months of full time CPT or part time CPT does NOT affect eligibility for OPT.
Q: Can I change my OPT start date once my application has been submitted to USCIS?
A: Maybe; a request may be submitted to USCIS but it is unlikely that USCIS will be able to adjust your dates of employment once they have processed your application.
Q: Can I cancel my OPT request after it has been submitted to USCIS without losing the possibility of doing OPT at a later time?
A: Maybe; it depends on whether USCIS has approved the application for OPT. After it has been approved by USCIS, a student cannot reset the OPT clock. Thus a student must use the time or lose it.
Q: I think I may complete my degree this semester, but I’m not sure. When should I apply for OPT?
A: Typically we recommend a student apply for OPT before they complete their degree requirements, however, if you are unsure, you may want to wait until the end of the semester to apply. You may submit your application for OPT up to 60 days following the completion of your degree (during your grace period).
Q: Can I begin work as soon as I receive my EAD card?
A: No, you may not begin employment until the start date indicated on the card.
Q: What if I can’t find a job while authorized for OPT?
A: You may want to consider volunteering your services in a position related to your field of study with a non-profit organization and volunteer minimum 20 hours a week. Immigration regulations state that a student on post-completion OPT may not accrue more than 90 aggregate days of unemployment or she will be considered out of status.
Q: Can I travel while on OPT?
A: In general, it is not advisable to travel before you receive your EAD card and with a job offer.
Q: Can I take classes while on post-completion OPT?
A: If a student is already approved for post-completion OPT but discovers that coursework must still be completed, he/she can return to school but may only use the EAD to work part-time (20 hours/week). Other students who are on OPT may pursue additional studies so long as they continue to work full time. However, per immigration regulations, “authorization to engage in OPT is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.” Thus, if you have just been authorized for OPT on the basis of your Master’s and wish to work on your doctorate, you cannot do both things at the same time.
Q: How long do I have after my OPT ends to remain in the United States? A: You have a grace period of up to 60 days in which to leave the country or change your immigration status
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) launched the SEVP Portal in 2018. The portal is a tool that F-1 or M-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) can use to report changes to their home address, telephone number and employer information. The portal is accessible from both your mobile device and computer.
You will receive an email with instructions on creating a portal account. This email will come from firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not see the email, check your spam or junk mail folder. If you still do not see it, contact your designated school official (DSO) to have the email sent again.
You will also receive from the portal reminding you of important deadlines and changes to your SEVIS record. When your email address changes in SEVIS, the portal will send a confirmation email to your old email address and new email address.
The SEVP Portal will allow you to:
Any data updates you make in the portal will be sent directly to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your SEVIS Portal Account will be closed by SEVP 6 months after the last day of your employment on the EAD card.
SEVP has created an
SEVP Portal Help section on Study in the States with:
Use of the portal is highly encouraged by SEVP. If you have any questions about the portal or need assistance, call the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400.
If you think your EAD card is lost, please follow the instruction and contact USCIS accordingly
Career and Professional Development Supports for Int'l Students & Alumni