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Unemployment While on OPT

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F-1 regulations state that if you are authorized for post-completion Optional Practical Training (post-OPT) you must leave the U.S. before you accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment. No 60-day grace period is allowed. Your days of unemployment are counted from the start date indicated on the EAD card.

If you volunteer or intern without pay for at least 20 hours per week in your area of study (without violating any labor laws), that time is not counted against your 90-day limit of unemployment. You should obtain a letter from the employer/organization verifying that you are volunteering or interning and keep it for your records.

You must report all periods of unemployment in the SEVP Portal. Exceeding 90 days of unemployment may result in the termination of your SEVIS record as your unemployment is monitored by SEVP.  See SEVP Portal for OPT Reporting for more details.


If you are on STEM OPT, your limit on unemployment is raised to an aggregate of no more than 150 days, applied to the entire 36-month period of OPT (i.e., your post-OPT plus STEM-OPT).

To report periods of unemployment during STEM, submit the STEM Reporting Updates form in Bechtel Connect. Complete Part 2 of the form, inputting your previous employer's information under Part 1.