F-1 Optional Practical Training
F-1 Option Practical Training (OPT) is normally 12 months of work authorization and is typically used by a F-1 international student who just graduated with a degree from a U.S. college or university. To begin work the employee must present a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card issued by USCIS. OPT employment is required to be related to the student's degree program. This is an interesting type of work authorization in that the employer has no responsibility to maintain the employee's immigration status in the United States. The maintenance of status is performed by the employee and their degree granting institution. If the employee graduated from KU, then the International Student Services office would continue to advise the graduated student and help them maintain their immigration status. OPT employment may be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, and includes self-employment.
In most cases, travel while on OPT should be fine, however the international employee on OPT should consult with their International Student Advisor at their degree-granting university. In the rare case that a tenure-track faculty member needs to travel and is using OPT, please contact International Programs immediately. As an employer if you are concerned about travel for your employee, please talk with an advisor in International Programs.
After graduation, employees using OPT are required to show the EAD card along with other F-1 visa documentation in order to reenter the United States. Printed on the EAD card is the statement "Not Valid for reentry." This statement means that employee must have all documentation listed below to travel and return to the United States after graduation. In many cases the employee will also need to apply for a new F-1 visa. Employees who are working on OPT should contact their degree granting institution's international office for a complete list of documents to take when traveling internationally.
Here is an example of useful documents to take when traveling internationally while in F-1 status on OPT:
- a valid I-20, signed on page 3 by an advisor in their degree granting institution's international office
- a valid passport
- a valid F-1 visa
- the EAD card issued by USCIS
- evidence of a job offer or evidence of resumption of employment
- SEVIS fee payment receipt.