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How to maintain legal F-1 status while on Post-Completion OPT 

Tips After Mailing OPT Application
  • DO NOT continue working in an on-campus student position once you have completed your academic program.
  • DO NOT promise an employer you can start on a specific date or sign an employment contract with a specific start date unless you already have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • DO NOT begin working before receiving your EAD or before the start date on the EAD.  DO NOT continue working after the expiration date unless you have other applicable work authorization.
  • Maintain evidence – for each job – that the employment is directly related to your degree.  Have proof of the position held, the duration of the position, job title, contact info for the supervisor or manager and a description of the work.  If it is not clear from the job description, obtain a signed letter from your employer’s hiring official, supervisor, or manager stating how your degree is related to the work performed.
Check Application Status Online

Go to http://www.uscis.gov/   

OR, Go to Tools >  Check your Case Status Online. 

Enter your Receipt Number (ex. LINxxxxxxxxxx, YSCxxxxxxxxxx, PSCxxxxxxxxxx)

You will have an option to create a myUSCIS account where you can set the account up to receive any automatic email updates on the status of your application.

IMPORTANT: The receipt is NOT your work permit!

Post-Comp OPT Reporting Requirements

All OPT reporting must be done through the iHawk website

  1.  Log in with your KU Online ID.
  2. Go to F-1 Practical Training and select “OPT Reporting”.
  3. Complete and submit the appropriate report. You can submit the same E-Form multiple times as needed.
  • If you are a performing artist reporting multiple gigs, or a self-employed business owner/contract worker, here are some reporting TIPS for special categories2.

What you are required to report within 10 days

Which E-Form to submit in iHawk

OPT approved  (upload OPT EAD card)

Upload OPT EAD card

Change in U.S. residential or mailing address*

Update U.S. Address

Employer name and address, including the report of

  • initial employment
  • change of employment
  • multiple employers
  • loss or termination of employment

OPT Add New Employer Info

OPT Edit Previously Reported Employer Info

OPT Report Job Ended

Departing the U.S. and forfeiting the remainder of OPT

Report Leaving US and Forfeit OPT

Change Immigration status classification (ex. F-1 to H-1B)

Report Change of Status and Forfeit OPT

Change in Legal name (as it occurs in my passport)

Report Passport Name Change

*ADDRESS CHANGES: If your OPT application is still pending, the post office will not forward EADs even if you filed a mail-forwarding request so you must report address changes through iHawk AND also

ISS will report your information to the government. For your protection, please keep a record of all reports made to ISS.

Maintaining Legal F-1 Status Once on Post-Comp OPT
  • Only look for and accept employment that is directly related to your field of study.
  • Comply with OPT reporting requirements.
  • Since F-1 status is dependent on employment, you must not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT. 
  • OPT employment does not have to be paid, but volunteer or unpaid opportunities do need to be reported in order to avoid accrual of unemployment.  Unpaid internships must not violate any labor laws, must be directly related to your field of study and the work must be at least 20 hours per week.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (not ISS) will be responsible for determining if your status has been violated by exceeding the permissible period of unemployment.  They may deny future immigration benefits and/or they may terminate your SEVIS record if you fail to maintain the proper period of employment.
  • You are allowed 60 days after the expiration of the EAD (if properly maintained status) to remain in the U.S. for the purpose of preparing for departure, to change education levels at the same school, to transfer out, or to apply for a change of status.
  • Your duration of status and possibly also work authorization may automatically be extended if you are a beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request. See more details on H-1B Cap-Gap OPT Extension.
Travel Concerns While on Post-Comp OPT

See Travel Outside the U.S., section on “Students on Post-Completion OPT”.

Travel out of the U.S. while waiting for OPT approval is not advised unless you have a job offer and you have a way of getting the EAD should the OPT be approved while you are overseas.  

If the OPT is Pending

  OPT Receipt 
  F-1 visa
  I-20 with a recent travel signature

*STEM OPT Pending: Do not travel outside the United States if your EAD is expired and the STEM OPT extension request is pending.  Wait until you receive the new EAD.

Once OPT is Approved

  OPT EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  Proof of Employment (i.e. job offer or recent paycheck stub)
  F-1 Visa
  I-20 with a travel signature within the last six months

  • If your F-1 visa has expired you will need to apply for a new one while abroad if you plan to return to the U.S. to continue with OPT.  It is sometimes more difficult to obtain an F-1 student visa while on OPT since you have already completed your degree and you are only returning to work.  In addition, all new visas require a security check that could take time.  Please carefully consider these risks before traveling outside the U.S.
  • If traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent (Caribbean) islands for less than 30-days, automatic revalidation may be a possibility and a need for a new visa may not apply. 
How Does Post-Comp OPT End?
  • Your period of post-comp OPT is completed (as indicated by the dates on your EAD card)
  • Accrue an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment during the entire 12- month OPT period
  • Transferring to another school or beginning study at another education level automatically terminates any remaining portion of OPT
  • Change your status to another immigration status, or adjust to US permanent resident
  • Depart the US permanently (not for temporary visit/vacation) and report forfeiting the remainder of OPT

What is OPT? When and How do I Apply?

 STEM OPT Extension H-1B Cap Gap OPT Extension

Presidential Executive Order Update & Information
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