International Students

Maintaining Status and Reporting

Reporting responsibilities

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

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

2. Complete an 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:

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 be 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 an understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied 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.

Traveling while on OPT

Required documents for re-entry:

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.

Learn more about re-entry into the United States while on OPT.