Optional Practical Training FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions about Optional Practical Training

  • Can I travel while on OPT? 
  • Please refer to our travel webpage for detailed information about traveling while on OPT. 

  • What if my visa expires while I am on OPT? 
  • Remember that a visa is an ENTRY document only, so if it expires while you are on OPT you do not need to leave the US to renew it.  However, the first time you leave and seek reentry to the US you will need to renew your visa.  Our travel webpage has information about what you need to apply for a visa renewal. 

  • I have heard I must find a job within 90 days is that true? 
  • It is true but we might say it another way.  During your Post-Completion OPT you can accumulate no more than 90 days of unemployment.  So, if at ANY point during the year of your OPT you reach a total of 90 unemployment days (cumulatively), you must leave the country immediately.  So, if you do not find work within 90 days of the start of your OPT you have accumulated 90 days of unemployment and must leave the US. 
  • What if I have to cancel my OPT? 
  • SISS can cancel your OPT in SEVIS if you haven’t  physically mailed your application. Once you have mailed your application, you cannot  cancel your time or receive a refund. Please contact SISS right away if you find yourself in  this situation! 
  • What if I fail a class and do not finish my program when I said I would? 
  • If you have not mailed your OPT application, we can cancel it and you can apply after you finish you course. If you have mailed your OPT application: 
    • You can finish your program (you must take the classes you need the  following quarter). 
    • When you receive your EAD, you may work ONLY PART-TIME  (20 hours or less per week) until you finish your coursework -  even though the EAD card says you may work full-time (more than 20 hours per week). 
    • Once you finish your coursework, you may switch to full-time  training. 
  • What if I get accepted to another degree program while I am on OPT? 
  • While on OPT you are still an F-1 student based on a UC  Davis I-20. If you start another degree program at UC Davis or  another institution, your OPT will end when the day before your new degree program start date at UC Davis or the date we transfer your record to your new  institution. If you plan on transferring to another school, you will need to contact your International Student Advisor to coordinate the release of your SEVIS record. You may request to also have your SEVIS record released while you are on OPT or during your 60-day grace period.  
  • Do I need a new I-20 each time I update my I-20? 
  • It is not a regulatory requirement to receive an updated paper copy of your I-20 after each update. You are welcome to request an I-20 throughiGlobal for your records or if you need it for another reason (travel for example). You will be responsible for shipping fees or to arrange for someone to pick it up for you. 
  • Can I extend my OPT? 
  • A student with a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field can apply for a 24-month extension of their 12 month OPT, for a maximum of 36 months. In order to qualify, a student must meet all of the following requirements.  Students can learn more about the STEM extension.  
  • Do I need a Social Security Number to do OPT? 
  • Students who are being paid for work in the United States will need to apply for a Social Security Number and plan to file taxes. USCIS is working with the Social Security Administration so you can request a Social Security Number when you file your OPT application.  See the I-765 form and instructions to learn how to do this. 
  • I'm planning to apply for a change of status to another immigration status, is there something I should do? 
  • Notify SISS if you apply for a change of status to another immigration status. When your application is approved, provide SISS an electronic copy of your I-797 approval notice, I-94 record, or green card. 
  •  Can I work or volunteer while waiting for my OPT approval? 
  • No, you may not work after the ending date on your I 20 until you receive your EAD card and the authorized period of work has begun.
  • What happens if I do not receive my EAD card before the end of my grace period? Will I be out of status? 
  • No, as long as you have a pending OPT application, you are considered to be maintaining status until you receive either an approval or denial from USCIS.