You are still an F-1 Student while on OPT. Therefore, you are responsible for following many of the same regulationsyou did as a student. If you are not sure which rules apply to you, please ask us. Here are a few important points toremember:
TRAVEL CAUTIOUSLY AFTER PROGRAM END DATE
You are cautioned against departing the U.S. before you have received your EAD card and secured employment
or a job offer. If you leave the U.S. and return after your program end date, for your re-entrance you should be
able to present three things upon return to a border official: (1) a signature on your I-20 that is within the last 6
months, (2) your EAD card, and (3) a letter from your employer stating the duration of your employment, job
title, and salary. If you must travel while your application is pending, you will need to at least be able to
present an I-20, signed within the last 6 months, and the original USCIS Application Receipt.
KEEP YOUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS CURRENT IN SEVIS AT ALL TIMES
You are REQUIRED by law to keep your address updated in the SEVIS system while on OPT. So, if you move to
take a job or your job is transferred to a new location, you must inform the Office of Global Support & Student
Engagement (OGSSE) of your new address within 10 days of moving. Please use the form linked from the
Update SEVIS online: https://goo.gl/forms/anC55v7ibFJNUHfN2
EMPLOYMENT MAY NOT BEGIN BEFORE YOU RECEIVE THE EAD CARD
You may not begin working until you have your EAD card in your hand and you present it to your employer.
Even if your EAD card is delayed past your requested start date, you cannot start working. Additionally, if your
EAD card is early, you still cannot work until the start date indicated on your EAD.
DELAY IN RECEIVING THE EAD CARD
If you do not receive your EAD Card within 90 days of your Receipt Notice of application, please notify the
OGSSE for assistance; the OGSSE cannot assist you until after 90 days have passed.
REQUIREMENT TO REPORT EMPLOYMENT DETAILS
All F-1 students granted post-completion OPT must report as soon as possible after beginning employment the following information:
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Employment start date
- Supervisor’s name
- Supervisor’s Contact information (phone and email)
- Your position/job title
- Explanation of how employment relates to your course
Do not email this information. Update SEVIS online:
Note: You must report this information any time you change employers or have updated information so
we may document this in SEVIS. You will receive a new I-20 with this updated information.
REQUIREMENT TO REPORT INTERRUPTION OF EMPLOYMENT
While in post-completion OPT, you may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment. If your employer changes, you should report to the Office of Global Support & Student Engagement any employment changes within 10 business days of the change. USCIS monitors 90 consecutive days of unemployment through theSEVIS system. If employer information is not reported and 90 consecutive days accrue, your SEVIS record maybe automatically terminated. The OGSSE strongly recommends that you personally keep track of your job search process with dated hardcopy documentation, in the event that you may remain unemployed for nearly 90 days. You should keep records of any part-time or volunteer work, interviews attended, job applications submitted, and rejection letters received.
COMPLETING ACADEMIC WORK TOWARDS DEGREE AFTER OPT GRANTED
If you have been approved for post-completion OPT, but discover that you must still complete your thesis or
research project, and all other coursework is completed, you may work full time. If you still need to complete
additional coursework in order to graduate, you may only work part-time (full-time on breaks and during
vacation periods) and must make progress toward completing your degree as soon as possible. Gannon
University is not able to certify completion of a degree until all required coursework and/or projects are
submitted, graded, and evaluated. You may begin full-time employment only after you have completed all
program requirements. Keep in mind that your program end date cannot be extended for failing academic
QUALIFYING EMPLOYMENT UNDER OPT
You may only work in a position related to the field of your degree. You should maintain evidence of this
requirement for each job or position you hold, including proof of job/position duration, job title, contact
information for supervisor or manager, and a description of the work you perform. If it is unclear from a job
description that your work is related to your field of studies, it is highly recommended that you obtain a signed
letter from your employer as to how your degree is related to the work you perform.
Keep in mind that while in OPT, you may engage in both paid and unpaid employment. You may also work for an
agency or multiple employers (although all work must be related to your degree), perform work for hire, or be
self-employed. In each instance, however, it is vital that you maintain adequate documentation. If you do
“volunteer” work, be sure to investigate whether the job complies with local and federal labor laws.
GRACE PERIOD AFTER 12-MONTH OPT
You may not work during the 60-day post-OPT grace period unless you are the beneficiary of an H-1B cap-gap
extension or have a STEM extension pending or granted. If you have a STEM Extension pending, USCIS will
extend your employment authorization for 180 days after the end date of your 12-month OPT.
NOTIFY THE OGSSE IF YOU RECEIVE AN APPROVED CHANGE OF STATUS
If you are the beneficiary of an approved H-1B petition, as well as an approved Change of Status to H-1, please notify the OGSSE as soon as possible, so we may keep a record of your status change in your file. Please fax a
copy of the Approval Notice to 814-871-5323. If you receive an approved Change of Status to H-4, F-2, J-1, or
any other visa status, please notify the OGSSE as well.
TERMINATION OF OPT STATUS
If you transfer to another school or begin another degree program, your OPT will automatically be terminated.
Please discuss any plans for continuing education in the U.S. with OGSE staff, as it will likely require a record
transfer in SEVIS. Additionally, if you violate any of the terms listed above, your OPT authorization may be
terminated. For example, if you exceed the limit on days of unemployment or fail to report address changes,
employer contact information, etc., you will fall out-of-status and will need to depart the United States
OPT EXTENSIONS: H-1B CAP GAP & STEM EXTENSIONS
If you believe you are eligible for one of these extensions please consult with OGSSE staff members about