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Reporting While on Post-Completion OPT

Reporting Responsibilities

There are two important reporting resposibilities students must complete once approved for OPT:

1. Update the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Portal

  • Once you’re approved for OPT, it is your responsibility to update the SEVP Portal in order to meet your legal OPT reporting requirements.
  • After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your OPT, you will receive an email from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov with instructions for setting up the portal. Please add this email to your trusted sender list and ensure that any email from this sender does not go to spam.
  • The following are updates that should be made through the portal:
    • Physical home address
    • Mailing address
    • Telephone number
    • Employer information
  • To avoid getting locked out of the portal, it’s important that you log into it at least every 45 daysPlease set yourself a calendar reminder so you do not encounter problems accessing the portal.
  • If you want to change your email address associated with your SEVP Portal account, reset your password, or if you are locked out of your account please contact an Immigration Coordinator at OIA for assistance.
  • For detailed information regarding the SEVP Portal, please see visit the Homeland Security's website. You can also view answers to frequently asked questions.

2. Complete an OIA OPT Reporting Form

In order for OIA to track the information students have reported to the SEVP Portal and, if necessary, issue I-20s for the updated information, students on Post-Completion OPT must submit the OPT Reporting Form:

  • Before accessing this form all the following criteria must be met:
    • You must be approved for OPT
    • You must have received your EAD card
    • You must be within the dates on the EAD card.
    • You must have already updated the SEVP Portal
  • A new I-20 will be issued to you only if the following updates are made:
    • Employer name
    • Employer location
    • Employer start or end date
  • If you require a new I-20, you will be contacted by an Immigration Coordinator at OIA within 5 business days.

DIrect Relationship Between Employment and Major

In September 2019, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program issued policy guidance on the obligations of schools and students to document that there is a direct relationship between the student’s major field of study and the work the student does on post-completion OPT and STEM OPT.

All practical training must related to the student’s major. Practical training cannot be based on a minor. OPT employment that is not directly related to the major area of study would be considered a status violation.

Nonimmigrant students are responsible for providing a description of how their practical training opportunity relates to their major area of study, but updating their SEVP Portal Account. The DSO (Immigration Coordinator) must review and retain this data. SEVP may request this information as part of a compliance review.

Sample Explanations of a Direct Relationship:

Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studies in-depth at The Ohio State University.

Bachelor’s degree in business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize, and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.

Master’s degree in music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.

Master’s degree in kinesiology: I am working 25 hours per week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made, Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer’s overall nutrition and exercise plan. My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning.

PhD in computer science: I am employed as a Computer and Information Research Scientist at ABC Research Institute. I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers that designs experiments to test the operation of various software systems. My work builds on research in complex algorithms and machine learning, which I studied as part of my dissertation.

90 Days of Unemployment

Students on post-completion OPT may accrue no more than 90 days of unemployment between the dates printed on the EAD card.

  • The 90 days of unemployment is cumulative for the entire 12 months of authorized OPT (not just the first 90 days).
  • Student who exceed the 90-day unemployment limit are no longer considered to be in maintenance of F-1 status.
  • Time spent outside the United States during post-completion OPT does count against the limit on unemployment, unless the student is employed and in an authorized period of leave from the employer, or if the student is traveling for their job.

Traveling while on OPT 

Required Documents for Re-Entry:

  • Most recent I-20 (signed for travel within six months of the date of re-entry)
  • EAD card
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid Passport
  • Letter from your employer verifying that you will resume employment upon your return, as well as your dates of employment and salary

Traveling after your I-20 has expired and while the OPT is still pending should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away which is time-sensitive and requires immediate action. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States.

If you have been approved for OPT but are not employed, it is not advisable that you travel.

More information about re-entry into the United States while on OPT is available on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's website.