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Travel on Post-Completion OPT

While on an active period of OPT or STEM OPT, F-1 students are eligible to temporarily leave the U.S. to return home or to another country, however, please keep in mind that you must have the necessary documents in order to reenter the U.S.   In addition, if traveling to a country that is not your own, you need to confirm that you have the required entry visa documents for that country.   You should contact the embassy or consulate of the particular country you plan to visit for detailed information on what you need to do to apply for an entry visa should you need one.  

Please also keep in mind that reentry is always at the discretion of the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) officials that you encounter at your port of entry.

Travel before your I-20 program end date:

You can travel the way you always have.  You may follow the guidelines here.  

Travel after your I-20 program end date while OPT application is pending:

International travel while an OPT application is pending with USCIS can be risky and is not generally recommended.  If you have an OPT application pending with USCIS and believe you must travel, please contact the International Center.  

If you depart the U.S. and reenter in any status other than F-1, your OPT will be invalidated.

Travel after I-20 program end date and OPT approval

You must have ALL documents listed below in order to travel and reenter the U.S. while on an approved period of OPT.
  • Valid passport
    • Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States
  • Unexpired U.S. visa (Canadian citizens exempt)
    • It is not possible to apply for or renew non-immigrant visas inside the U.S. 
    • A visa is used solely for the purpose of entry and reentry to the U.S.  It does not determine how long an individual may remain in the U.S.  Therefore, an individual may stay beyond the expiration date of a visa as long as the visa document (I-20/DS-2019) is valid
  • A valid I-20, signed on page 2 by the International Center staff (the signature must be less than six months old at the time of reentry to the U.S.)
  • an OPT EAD card issued by USCIS
    • Printed on the EAD is the statement "Not valid for reentry."  This means that the EAD card alone is not valid for reentry
  • evidence of a job offer or evidence of resumption of employment
  • SEVIS fee (I-901) payment receipt 
    • If you have lost your receipt, you may print one out here
If you depart the U.S. and reenter in any status other than F-1, your OPT will be invalidated.