Travel During OPT

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 proof of a job or offer letter 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.
    • Note: you may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as your EAC and passport are valid.
  • 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), you may be required to provide all documentation as listed above.  

Travel during the Cap Gap Extension of OPT

Travel during the Cap Gap Extension is not advisable. A valid (unexpired) Employment Authorization Card (EAC) is required for re-entry into the U.S. during the OPT period, and a new EAC will NOT be issued as part of the Cap-Gap extension. Students are strongly advised not to depart the U.S. until they qualify for travel and re-entry in H-1B status. 

 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.