Travel on OPT
We have changed our name. Effective immediately, International Student Affairs and Programs (ISAP) is now the International Student Services (ISS) office. Questions? Email us at email@example.com
Ideal International Travel Scenario While on OPT
- Your OPT has been approved and you have your EAD card.
- You have a job and proof of employment to show at the port of entry in the US (ex. paystubs from recent time worked, a letter from your employer confirming your employment.)
- If your OPT time has started, you have reported employment to Immigration through your SEVP Portal account.
- Your F-1 visa is not expired.
- Your passport is valid at least 6 months into the future.
- You have a travel signature that is not more than 6 months old on page 2 of the I-20 issued to apply for OPT
The more of these conditions that are missing, the riskier travel becomes. Check in with ISS to discuss your situation before traveling.
Travel Signatures while on OPT
Need an updated travel signature? You have two options:
1) Schedule an on campus appointment here and an ISS staff member can sign your paper I-20 for you.
2) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration will allow for ISS staff to digitally sign on page 2 of the I-20 form for travel endorsement purposes. Complete the ISAP Travel Signature Request form for alums on OPT. Upload a PDF of your most recent I-20 form to the form, enter all information, and hit submit. ISS will digitally sign page 2 of your I-20 and email it back to you at the email address listed within 3 to 5 business days.
Important Notes About Traveling After Your I-20 Program End Date
- Once your program end date has passed, ISS strongly advises avoiding international travel whenever possible until OPT has been approved and you have a job.
- In general, a student on post-completion OPT with a valid EAD card, proof of employment, a valid passport, and valid F-1 visa who is otherwise admissible may reenter the United States to resume employment.
- If you are unemployed at the time of travel, please remember that the 90 day unemployment rule still applies. If you have reached 90 days of unemployment, you could be denied re-entry into the United States.
Have the following documents with you when reentering the United States while on OPT:
- A valid passport: In most cases, students are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter the United Students.
- A valid F-1 visa: Your F-1 visa is your reentry document.
- If your visa will be expired on the day you reenter the United States, you must obtain a new visa prior to reentering. Renewing your F-1 visa while on OPT is risky, with no guarantee that your visa will be renewed. Contact ISS to discuss your situation and the risks involved in applying for a new visa while on OPT.
- I-20 with OPT recommendation on second page and a current travel signature. While on OPT, a travel signature is valid for six months.
- If you need a travel signature, please schedule an appointment to meet with an ISS staff member.
- If you are unable to come in for an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to pre-pay the postage for ISS to mail a new I-20 to you.
- EAD card
- Proof of Employment. This could be a recent pay stub or job offer letter. The letter should be on company letterhead, signed by your supervisor and should give the start date of employment, salary, and a brief description of your duties.
Warning: Do not attempt to reenter the United States on a B visa or through the visa waiver program while waiting for OPT approval or because you have an expired F-1 visa. Doing so automatically ends your F-1 status and you forfeit your OPT.