Travel During OPT
While engaged in post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), it continues to be extremely important to have documentation verifying your eligibility to enter the U.S. in F-1 status.
After applying for post-completion OPT, but before completion of your program (listed on your Form I-20) you may travel and re-enter the U.S. without proof of employment. After you have completed your degree your OPT application must be approved and you must have a job or proof of a job offer in order to re-enter the U.S.
Documents Required when re-entering the U.S. during OPT:
Valid passport - must be valid at least six months into the future
Valid F-1 visa
- If your F-1 visa has expired and you
will be traveling outside the U.S., you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S and can view more information on that process here
Valid Employment Authorization Card (EAC) - The EAC is marked, “Not valid for re-entry.” This simply means that the card alone is not sufficient for re-entering the U.S.; it must be accompanied by the other documents included on this list
Form I-20 with OPT recommendation and valid travel signature (less than 6 months old)
Proof of employment – A letter from your current or prospective employer which indicates that you have a temporary job offer and that you will be employed for the duration of your OPT.
Travel and Re-Entry before the OPT start date:
After completion of your program, if you leave the U.S. and re-enter before your OPT start date (as indicated on your EAC), the border officer may permit you entry without asking for proof of employment. This decision is always up to the discretion of the officer.
Travel during the Cap Gap Extension of OPT
Note: If you re-enter the U.S. in another status (such as B-1 visitor for business), you will no longer be eligible for OPT.