Once USCIS approves the OPT, you will receive an Employment Authorized Document (EAD) card. You cannot begin work until you have received the EAD. The EAD will explicitly state the dates you are authorized to work. All OPT employment must be directly related to your major field of study and occur within the periods of authorized employment as shown on the EAD.
Send a copy of the EAD, both front and back of card, to your dedicated IS Advisor.
The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will send a link inviting you to create an SEVP Portal Account. Once your OPT has been approved, the email will be sent from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov. Please always check your Spam, Junk, or Trash folders to see if this email gets redirected.
Follow the instructions in that email immediately upon receipt and create your SEVP Portal Account. This link expires in 30 days from the time it was sent and it can only be clicked once to register your SEVP Portal Account. If the link is already expired, contact your IS Advisor to reset it. SEVP Portal Reset requests are processed within 3 business days.
For help with this process, please visit the SEVP Portal Help Website, email SEVP@ice.dhs.gov, or call the SEVP Response Center at (703) 603-3400 between the hours of 8am-6pm ET Monday through Friday, except US holidays.
On your EAD start date, you must begin reporting information on all training positions. You must report your start date and end date. If you have a paid or unpaid position, you will need to report the name and address of your employer. If you are unemployed, there is no employment information to report, but you should keep track of the total days of unemployment accumulated.
F-1 OPT students are permitted a maximum of 90 unemployment days between the start and end date on their EAD card. The SEVIS database automatically calculates unemployment days based on the information students submit in their SEVP Portal account. Students may use unemployment days before, between, or after OPT activities in increments of any size.
Students who exceed the 90-day unemployment limit begin to accrue unlawful presence, which may jeopardize access to future U.S. immigration benefits, including readmission to the United States. OGS recommends that students depart the United States and contact their IS Advisor to close their F-1 record in order to avoid accruing unlawful presence.
Students who exceed the 90-day unemployment limit may not transfer their F-1 status to begin a new academic program and do not have an F-1 grace period. Students should consult an experienced immigration attorney for further guidance on the implications of unlawful presence in the United States.
Do not delete previous Post-Completion OPT employer information already in the portal.
Be sure to maintain copies of all OPT materials, including job descriptions, for your personal records.
You have three options to request a new Form I-20 after making an employment update in the SEVP Portal. For all options, please allow 10 business days to process the new Form I-20.
1. Pick up at OGS: Send an email to your dedicated IS Advisor to request a new Form I-20 and indicate in-person pick up. You may indicate the name of a friend or family member to pick up the document for you. They must show the receptionist a valid I.D.
2. Regular Shipping with USPS: Send an email to your dedicated IS Advisor with the SUBJECT: First Name Last Name GUID USPS OPT Employment Update Form I-20. Include your mailing address and indicate your selection for USPS shipping. This option does not include a tracking number.
3. Expedited Shipping with eShipGlobal: Request a shipment with eShipGlobal. Then, send an email to your dedicated IS Advisor with the SUBJECT: First Name Last Name GUID eShipGlobal OPT Employment Update Form I-20. Include your mailing address and indicate your selection for shipping with eShipGlobal. This option includes a tracking number.
Throughout the OPT period, alumni are required by law to use the SEVP Portal to update any changes in US address or phone number within 10 days of the change.
If you have a new address to report more than 1 week before the approved OPT start date when you receive SEVP Portal access, please email your IS Advisor.
DHS requires all F-1 international students engaging in Post-Completion OPT to report their permanent departure from the U.S. if the departure occurs before the end date on the EAD card. Please email this information to your dedicated IS Advisor.
Report any additional changes, including names changes, admission to a new academic program, and change in your non-immigrant status to your dedicated IS Advisor.
During Post-Completion OPT, you are allowed to accrue no more than 90 days of unemployment, including any time covered by the H-1B Cap-Gap.
Following the end of a successful OPT period, you have a 60-day grace period during which you prepare to leave the United States, apply for a change of immigration status, or transfer your F-1 status to begin a new academic program.
If you graduated with a specialized degree in qualifying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and have a job offer from an E-Verify employer, you are eligible for an additional, 24-month extension of your OPT work authorization. You will also be allowed 150 days of unemployment. Apply for a STEM Extension.
- OPT FAQs
- Driver's License
- Social Security Number*
- *If you do not have an SSN, you will need to apply for one as soon as your EAD start date is valid.
Failure to comply with your responsibilities while on OPT may result in the loss of your immigration status. While the Government of the United States considers you to be solely responsible for maintaining your legal status, please be assured that OGS continues to be a resource for you during this period.