Optional Practical Training and Travel
Outside the United States When Your OPT Application Is Pending (including
An F-1 student who has filed a timely application for post-completion OPT may travel outside the United States while the OPT application is pending, provided that the F-1 student can present the USCIS Processing Center Receipt, proving that the application has been filed.
However, a student who has applied for a 17-month extension and whose current EAD card has expired, cannot travel outside the United States, even if employed, until the new EAD card is received.
Travel Outside the United States Once the EAD Card is Issued
Once the EAD card for OPT is issued to the F-1 student, and the student decides to travel abroad, the student can only re-enter the United States to resume employment . DHS has clarified that the F-1 student does not need to have already begun actual employment before leaving, as long as the student has a job offer to which to return.
Have a Valid I-20 When You Travel
When traveling, be sure that the travel signature on page 3 of your most recent I-20, endorsed for OPT (or the 17-Month extension of OPT) will be less than six months old on the date that you will re-enter the United States. If you need an updated travel signature, please contact the ISSS prior to your travel date.
Travel Outside the United States and Days of Unemployment
If a student whose approved period of OPT (as indicated on the EAD card) has
begun then travels outside of the United States while unemployed, the
time spent outside the United States will count as unemployment against the 90
days for OPT and 120 days for 17th Month Extension of OPT limits.
If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment.
Please visit this link for more information on F-1 regulations regarding days of unemployment
The best general advice is that an F-1 student on OPT who has received the EAD card, and has to travel abroad should make sure that there is documentation from his or her employer confirming the employment or their job offer. Otherwise the student assumes a risk that he/she may not be allowed to re-enter the United States.
OPT and Applying for a New F-1 Visa Abroad
If you will need to renew your F-1 visa, you must have your I-20 endorsed for OPT, an official transcript from Binghamton University (and proof of your degree if you have graduated) your EAD card (or receipt notice) and proof of a job or job offer as minimum documentation requirements. If the EAD application is still pending, some consular officials will accept the receipt notice in lieu of the EAD card, but this can be risky.
Travel Abroad When A
Petition for a Different Visa Has Been Filed
Students on OPT who have a pending or approved petition for a different
non-immigrant or immigrant visa (for example, H-1B) are urged to consult with
the individual filing their petition (such as an attorney) for advice on
travel. A pending application for H-1B, that has not yet been approved,
will be considered to have been abandoned if the beneficiary travels
abroad. A pending application for permanent residency will also be
considered to have been abandoned unless the beneficiary has a valid advance
parole document. If a petition has been approved, it is essential to
consult with the individual who has filed the petition for advice on travel and