Maintaining Status on Post-Completion OPT
COVID-19 & Maintaining Status
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some rules about maintaing your visa status may have changed temporarily. For details please visit our COVID FAQ page. If you have questions after reviewing our information contact us for assistance.
What must I do to maintain my F-1 status while on OPT?
To maintain your F-1 status while on Post-Completion OPT, you must:
- Report your employment and U.S. address. It is your responsibility to ensure that any employment you accept is directly related to your major field of study.
- When you report employment on the SEVP Portal you will be required to provide details on your employment, including a description of how the job is directly related to your field of study.
- Refer to the section titled “How do I update my contact and employment information” for instructions on how to report.
- Work at least 20 hours per week.
- Not exceed the allotted 90 days of unemployment time. For additional information, read the section titled “Do I have to find a job?”
- Report to ISS:
- If your name changes
- If your immigration status changes (e.g. change to H-1B)
- Report any changes in F-2 dependents. Request an F-2 be added to your SEVIS record using the procedure described on our F-2 dependent page. Notify ISS if any F-2 dependent changes status or leaves the U.S. and will no longer be a dependent on your record while you are on OPT.
- Report within ten days using the SEVP Portal:
- If your employer changes or your employment details change
- If you lose your job
- If your residential address changes
Reporting Changes within 10 days
Students must update information on the SEVP Portal within 10 days of any changes to their personal or employment information.
SEVIS will count each day without employer information toward the total number of unemployment days allowed. Exceeding unemployment limits can result in a loss of status and failure to update employer information in SEVIS in a timely manner may result in any or all of the following actions (as described by USCIS on August 18th, 2020):
- The alien exceeding unemployment limits and therefore failing to maintain F-1 nonimmigrant status, rendering them removable, unless they are otherwise in a period of authorized stay;
- SEVP setting an alien’s SEVIS record to “terminated” if they have exceeded unemployment limits;
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) initiating revocation proceedings for an alien’s Employment Authorization Document if they have exceeded unemployment limits; and
- The exceeded unemployment limits negatively affecting the alien’s future benefit requests filed with USCIS.
Do I have to find a job?
YES. F-1 students may not exceed 90 days of unemployment during their 12 months of Post-Completion OPT, and must report their employer’s name and address within that time frame.
If you exceed 90 days of unemployment, the Department of Homeland Security plans to automatically terminate your SEVIS record in the future.
If your SEVIS record is terminated, your F-1 status and employment authorization will no longer be valid and you will have to leave the U.S. immediately.
Therefore, to maintain your F-1 status, you must report employment to the SEVP Portal as soon as you accept a job offer and before you exceed 90 days of unemployment. Possible consequences to remaining in the U.S. after the 90-day deadline without a job include denial of future immigration benefits, detention and deportation, etc.
What types of employment are acceptable while on OPT?
There are various types of employment you may accept while on Post-Completion OPT. When you report employment to ISS, you will be required to explain how your employment is directly related to your field of study.
Any employment you choose must be directly related to your program of study. It is your responsibility to prove and document how your employment is directly related to your field of study.
Regular paid employment
Employment can be part-time (at least 20 hours per week when on Post-Completion OPT) or full-time. There is no defined maximum number of hours one may work while on Post-Completion OPT.
All work must be related to your field of study.
Payment by multiple short-term employers
Ex. Musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs). You should maintain a list of all gigs, including dates and duration.
Work for hire
This is commonly referred to as “1099 employment”, which refers to an individual performing a service based on a contract. You should keep a record of the length of each contract as well as the name and contact information for each contracting company.
Self-employed business owner
You may start a business and be self-employed. You must have proper business licenses.
Employment by an agency
You must keep proof that you worked at least an average of 20 hours per week while employed by an agency.
Volunteers or unpaid interns
You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern provided that you are not violating any labor laws. Please refer to the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division page and their Fact Sheet 71 on internship programs for information.
- You must work at least 20 hours per week
- Note that although volunteer employment is permitted during the 12-Month Post-Completion OPT, it is not permitted on the OPT STEM Extension.
It is essential that you report all employment to and keep documentation (e.g. employment letters, contracts, timesheets, pay stubs, etc.) of all of your employment while on OPT
Such documentation should include the position held, proof of the duration of that position, contact information for your supervisor and a description of the work. If it is not clear from the job description that the work is related to your field of study, then you should obtain a letter from your supervisor stating how your degree relates to the position.
Which documents should I have to prove that I have been employed?
- Copies of job offer letters and agreements/contracts with all OPT employers including start and end dates.
- Copies of job descriptions including job title, duties, location, pay rate and proposed number of hours to be worked per week.
- If you worked for an agency or consultancy, keep evidence of the projects you worked on.
- Keep copies of your pay vouchers or pay stubs for all periods of employment.
- Maintain copies of your bank statements that show direct or corresponding deposits from your employer(s).
- Copies of you W-2 tax forms.
If you engage in employment that is not paid while on OPT, we recommend you keep the following records:
- Copies of employment agreements or contracts with the employer including start and end dates, training mode (on location, online, etc) and location of the internship/unpaid training for each employer.
- Copies of all diplomas, completion certificates and/or certifications that you received related to the training programs identified.
- If you worked/trained as an unpaid employee for a third party keep evidence of the projects/contracts you worked on.
- Copies of company time and attendance records that document your daily tasks in detail for all employers during the unpaid internship or training.
You will not be required to submit this proof of employment to UB's Office of International Education, but it may be requested by USCIS if you are applying for future immigration benefits.
How are the 90 days of unemployment counted?
Each day of unemployment (including weekends) is counted towards the 90-day requirement for students on Post-Completion OPT. Time spent outside the U.S. counts as unemployment unless the travel was work-related or during an official leave from one’s job.
How do I request a travel signature on my OPT I-20?
If you plan to travel outside the U.S. and the signature on page 2 of your OPT I-20 will be more than six months old at the time of re-entry, you need a new travel endorsement signature on your I-20.
To request an updated I-20, log in to UB Global, click "Optional Practical Training", then "OPT Travel Endorsement Request".
Please submit your request at least 10 business days before you plan to leave the U.S.
How do I update my contact and employment information?
What to Report While on OPT & Where to Report It?
| ||Post-Completion OPT ||OPT STEM Extension |
Current U.S. address
|Current U.S. phone number || |
|New employment or current employment updates || |
|UB Global |
|Primary email address ||UB Global ||UB Global |
|EAD card ||UB Global ||UB Global |
Instructions for Submitting UB Global E-forms:
Once logged in to UB Global, select “Optional Practical Training” from the menu on the left, chose your type of OPT from the options, and select the correct e-form to submit your updates.
ISS Tips for Reporting While on OPT:
All Students on OPT:
- Once you make the changes in the SEVP portal, you do not need to report the same changes in UB Global.
- Report in a timely manner (within 10 days of any change).
- Your employer name should be the name of the company, institution, or entity employing you. It should not be the name of your supervisor.
- Example: If you work at UB for a UB professor, please report your employer as ‘University at Buffalo’ instead of your professor’s name.
- Your job start date cannot be earlier than the OPT start date listed on your EAD card.
Students on OPT STEM extension:
- When you report an employment end date that ends during your STEM OPT, a final evaluation report is required. You will use page 5 (lower section) of form I-983 to complete the final evaluation.
- A complete form I-983 (pages 1-4) is required for any new employment that happens during your STEM OPT.
EAD Upload & Personal Details
- Give ISS a copy of your EAD by uploading it on UB Global.
- Report any change to your legal name and request an updated I-20 on UB Global using the "I-20 Reprint Request" e-form.
- Report any change in your immigration status (e.g. change to H-1B) by completing the "Change of Status Notification" e-form on UB Global.
Employment & Residential Address Details
We now recommend to use the SEVP portal directly to report your employment and address changes. We recommend this for many reasons:
- This allows you to timely report your employment changes (any changes in employment need to be reported within 10 days of the change)
- This gives you control over your own employment record
- This allows for more consistency in how F-1 students report their employment while on post-completion OPT
Log into your SEVP Portal account once your OPT is approved to report updates within 10 days of any change.
Issues with the SEVP Portal?
There may be some circumstances in which students cannot use their SEVP Portal to report updates. If you try to use the SEVP Portal and receive an error message please email ISS for guidance.
If after reporting updates you would like an updated I-20 or you need a reprinted I-20 for a reason other than travel you can request one on UB Global using the "I-20 Reprint Request" e-form.
How do I get access to my SEVP portal account?
Accessing your account may depend on your situation.
- If your Post-Completion OPT has been approved but the start date has not yet occurred, you may need to wait until after the start date for SEVP to send a link.
- If you have already created an SEVP account but have been locked out, you can probably reset your account yourself. Here’s how:
- Go to the SEVP Portal login page.
- Use the Reset Password function to create a new password.
- If your Post-Completion OPT has been approved and the start date has passed, please check your spam folders for the link to activate your SEVP Portal account. If you have not been sent a link, you may request that we prompt SEVP to send you a link. Here’s how:
- Login to UB Global.
- Complete the E-Form titled “SEVP Portal Unlock Request”. It may take a few days to get the link.
How long can I remain in the U.S. after my EAD expires?
All students on OPT have a 60-day grace period after their EAD expires. You are permitted to remain inside the U.S. during those 60 days to prepare for your departure, apply to change your status (if eligible) or begin a new degree program. If you are not admitted to a new degree program or do not submit a change-of-status application before the end of the 60 days, you must leave the U.S.
During your 60-day grace period, you may not work.
What happens if I violate my immigration status?
If a student on OPT fails to maintain their immigration status, as explained above, the student will violate their immigration status. Status violations are serious and can result in the denial of future immigration benefits or more. It is extremely important that you adhere to all reporting deadlines, understand your obligations as an F-1 student on OPT, and follow all state and federal laws. If you have questions about status violations while on OPT, please contact ISS.
- If you transfer to another school or begin study at another educational level at UB, then your OPT authorization will automatically be terminated.
- If you are accepted to begin another degree program at UB and your OPT has not yet expired, your OPT will terminate on the first day of classes for your new degree program.
- If you later decide not to mail your OPT application to USCIS for any reason, you must notify ISS immediately so that we can cancel your OPT recommendation in SEVIS.
- If you decide to leave the U.S. and are no longer pursuing your OPT, please complete the "Request to End F-1 Status" in UB Global.
- While on OPT, you are still in F-1 status.