Overview of OPT           

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 students to gain practical experience working off-campus in a job directly related to their major field of study. It is recommended in SEVIS by an Immigration Counselor at Purdue International Students and Scholars (ISS), and then students submit their applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be adjudicated. An offer of employment is not required to apply for OPT.

If granted by USCIS, the authorization is full- or part-time employment for a maximum of 12 months. OPT is not a different visa status or “change of status.” OPT work authorization is a benefit linked to your F-1 status, and extends your F-1 status for the time you are on OPT. You are eligible to apply for OPT after each higher education level completed (i.e. 12 months after a Bachelor’s degree, 12 months after a Master’s degree, 12 months after a PhD).

NOTE: If you are currently a student or just graduated and are applying within your grace period, you cannot apply directly for the STEM OPT Extension: only those currently in their 12-month OPT authorization OPT period, with a qualifying STEM degree, and working for an e-verified employer may apply for the STEM extension.

Who Is Eligible to Apply for OPT

In order to be eligible for post-completion OPT, you must:

 

  • Have a current, valid I-20, reflecting your current field of study and education level.

  • Have a valid, unexpired passport.

  • Have been lawfully enrolled full-time for at least two consecutive semesters immediately prior to finishing your degree and applying for OPT.*

  • Have had less than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

  • For undergraduate and master’s non-thesis-option students: Be within 90 days of completing your degree requirements (i.e., within 90 days of the end of the semester during which you will graduate).

  • For master’s thesis-option and doctoral students: Be within 90 days of completing your course requirements (do not need to be finished defending and depositing).

  • Have not previously had OPT authorized at the same degree level (e.g., if you are completing a second master’s degree and had previously been authorized for OPT after your first master’s, you would not be eligible for OPT again until you completed a higher degree level ).

 

* Undergraduate students: In your last semester you may register part-time, but you must be in at least one class in which you are required to be physically present on campus. In other words, enrolling in only online courses in your last semester is not allowed by USCIS. You do not need to request a Reduced Course Load.

 

*Graduate students: If this is your final semester and you are registered for less than a full time course-load, you must submit a Reduced Course Load (RCL) E-Form before you attend the OPT follow-up session (even if summer is your final semester).  If you have already submitted the RCL E-form for the current semester to ISS, no further action is required. If you have not yet submitted your RCL E-form to ISS, you need to do so by logging in to MyISS portal and selecting the appropriate RCL eform under the "F-1 and J-1 student services" category.

When to Apply for OPT

Program Completion Date

It is critical that you do not apply for OPT until your program completion date is certain.

Bachelors and Master’s Non-Thesis Students:

Click to view Timeline

Students who apply for post-completion OPT and then fail to graduate on the date indicated in their application risk violating their student visa status and possibly forfeiting their OPT.

If you do not complete by the date indicated by your advisor and you are an undergraduate student or a graduate student with non-thesis option, you may not begin full-time OPT. Please contact your Immigration Counselor immediately if you find out you will not graduate as planned. You will likely need to extend your I-20 before the expiration date and withdraw your OPT application, or risk a violation of your F-1 status. This is extremely time-sensitive.

Master’s Thesis and PhD Students:

Click to view Timeline

If you are a PhD or thesis-option Master’s student, you may start your OPT once you have completed all of the course requirements. You may start OPT before defending or depositing your thesis. However, you cannot continue a Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship position after the end date of your I-20. If you are required to register for degree- or exam-only while you are on OPT, you are not required to submit a Reduced Courseload Form (RCL).

All Students:

If you are graduating before the expected program end date on your I-20, ISS will modify your program end date on your I-20.

Ex. Your I-20 has an end date of 5/16/2017, but you are graduating by the spring semester of 2016. ISS will shorten your I-20 program end date to 05/16/2016, and your OPT would need to begin within 60 days of 05/16/2016). You must graduate in the semester in which you complete all your program requirements, even if your I-20 is printed with a later end date: you cannot keep the later end date in order to give yourself more time to look for a job.

All work (assistantships or other on-campus employment) must end by the program end date listed on the first page of your I-20. No work may begin again until the approved start date listed on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). It is a violation of your F-1 status to work without authorization, and you will lose your OPT eligibility if you work without proper authorization.

Note: Health insurance is required for all OPT students who are degree seeking, registered and have not yet graduated. Please see the Purdue University Health Services (PUSH) website for more information: https://www.purdue.edu/push/Insurance/Waivers/cpt.html

Timeline

  • The earliest USCIS can receive your application is 90 days before your program completion date. We highly recommend you submit the application packet to the ISS Office as early as possible within these 90 days before your program completion date. However, your application will be denied if it is received more than 90 days before your program completion date.

  • The latest USCIS can receive your application is the 60th day of your grace period (60 days after your program completion date).

  • ISS will take approximately 5 business days to process your OPT recommendation.

  • USCIS will take up to 90 days to process OPT applications.

  • There is no way to expedite this process.

  • You cannot change your requested OPT dates after you submit your application documents to ISS.

How to Apply for OPT

Step 1: Complete online OPT Workshop

Familiarize yourself with the application process and how to maintain your F-1 status on OPT by completing the OPT online workshop. You will receive detailed information about OPT, as well as instructions on how to fill out the required documents for your OPT application.

At the end of the online workshop, you will be able to schedule a Follow-Up session with ISS to turn in your OPT application materials. To avoid any processing delays, please be sure you have all the required documents before attending a Follow-Up session. If you are unable to attend your scheduled session, please call the ISS front desk to cancel or reschedule. 

Step 2: Complete the OPT Certification Form

The Optional Practical Training Certification Form is an ISS form that is submitted along with your OPT application materials.

You must make an appointment with your academic advisor (undergraduate) or major professor (graduate) to have them complete the bottom section of this form. You will fill out the top section.

This form needs to be completed before your OPT appointment and you need to bring it with you to your follow-up session, along with the other application materials.

Step 3: Gather all required documents for your OPT follow-up session

You should complete and bring the following required documents to your OPT follow-up session. Detailed instructions on how to complete each of these will be covered in the OPT workshop.

  • OPT Workshop Final Confirmation page
  • Valid, unexpired passport 
  • OPT Certification Form completed by Academic Advisor, Department Head, or Dean
  • I-765 form, completed and signed

Step 4: Prepare other required documents for your OPT application

The online workshop gives detailed information on how to prepare the required documents for your application to send to USCIS. Go through the workshop again if you need additional instruction on finalizing the following documents. Keep these documents in a safe place until after you attend your follow-up session and later receive your OPT I-20.

  • Check or money order with current date (not a future date) made payable to: "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" (Do not sign the back of the check!) Please check here for the current fee for the I-765 
  • 2 U.S. passport-sized photos (taken within 30 days and never used for any other purpose) in a small plastic bag. Write your name, birthdate, and I-94 in ballpoint pen on the back of each photo.
  • (ISS will return your original I-765 form to you for the application.)
  • (ISS will give you an OPT I-20. You will send a photocopy of this I-20 for the application.)
  • Photocopy of passport biographical page
  • Photocopy of F-1 visa (all students except Canadian citizens)
  • Photocopy of front and back of I-94 OR printout of your most recent electronic I-94 (print by visiting www.cbp.gov/I94)
  • (ISS will give you a screenshot from your SEVIS record showing whether you have had CPT or not.)
  • Photocopy of any I-20s showing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. If you have not had CPT, you do not need to include I-20 photocopies, not even of your current I-20.
  • Photocopy of any previous EAD cards (if you have been previously authorized for OPT or economic hardship)
  • Photocopy of your job offer letter, if you have one
  • Completed Form G-1145 (optional, but recommended)

Step 5: Attend your follow-up session  

Bring the required, completed documents to your scheduled follow-up session. You must be on time to your session. To avoid any processing delays, please be sure you have all the required documents before attending. If you are unable to attend your scheduled session, please call the ISS front desk to cancel or reschedule. At the session, an Immigration Counselor will give additional information, answer questions, and collect the required documents from you.

Step 6: Pick up your I-20 and I-765 from ISS

OPT is recommended by ISS if eligibility requirements are met, and your Immigration Counselor will create a new I-20 reflecting the recommendation. Ultimately, however, OPT is authorized (or denied) by USCIS in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

ISS will contact you via email once a new I-20 has been created and is ready to pick up. ISS processing time will take approximately one week, but you should wait for an email. The email will give you final instructions for assembling and sending your OPT application packet.

When you receive your I-20, sign it. Then make a photocopy of the signed I-20. You will KEEP your original I-20 and include the signed photocopy in your application packet.

Step 7: Assemble, double-check, and mail your completed application to USCIS as soon as you pick it up from ISS

***Your final instructions for preparing and sending your OPT application packet, as well as extremely important information to remember while you are on OPT are found here. Please bookmark this page and/or download a PDF of the document and keep it with all your important documents.***

Follow the instructions on this sheet for assembling all the required documents in your application packet. Double-check all documents: remember that it is your responsibility to ensure the application is correct and complete.

Do not delay in sending your application, as it is very time-sensitive. ISS recommends you send your application packet via USPS and use tracking to monitor when your packet is received by USCIS.

We highly recommend photocopying your complete application packet to keep for your records.

Important Notes:

  • USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of the OPT recommendation date (you can find this date next to the ISS staff signature on the first page). Your I-765, check, and photos should also not be more than 30 days old.

  • You cannot change your requested OPT dates after you submit your application documents to ISS.   

What Happens After I Apply For OPT?

After mailing your OPT application

  • Track your USPS package to monitor delivery of your application to USCIS.

  • In the event that your delivery is delayed, returned, missing, etc., contact USPS customer service to determine the problem, and follow their recommendations. If you determine that your OPT application will not be delivered to USCIS within 30 days of when the I-20 was created, contact ISS.

  • If you paid your application fee with a personal check, monitor your bank account to ensure there are sufficient funds in the account for your check to clear. If there are insufficient funds, there may be serious implications for your OPT application. Once you see that the check has cleared, you will know that USCIS has received your application.

  • Be patient in waiting for your receipt notice. If you have not received it by 20 days after you sent in your application, contact ISS.

After you receive Form I-797 Receipt Notice in the Mail

Once your application has been received, USCIS will send you several pieces of mail. If you filled out the G-1145, you will also receive electronic updates. Pay close attention to your mail and save everything sent from USCIS.

  • The receipt notice is your official receipt from USCIS confirming receipt of your application and payment of the application fee. The notice will include a receipt number, which is the file number associated with your OPT application. You can use this number to check your case status online at: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis 

  • You may check the USCIS Processing Time Information website to get an estimation of how long each USCIS office is taking to process different types of cases: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do You will need to choose which Service Center your application was sent to. (Check your receipt number: the first three letters indicate the Service Center.) On the next screen, you will be able to see the approximate date that USCIS is processing I-765s.

  • Make a photocopy for your records.

  • Verify that your name, birthday, and mailing address are correct on the receipt notice. If there are any errors, ISS.

  • Your Given Name should be listed first, and your Surname should be listed second. Please ensure that your given and surnames are in the correct order.

  • Do not contact USCIS to change your address. If circumstances change and it will be impossible to receive your EAD at the address listed on the receipt notice, contact ISS.

Request for Evidence (RFE):

You may or may not receive an RFE if a mistake in your application is discovered, something is missing, or USCIS wants more information.

Important: You will be required to respond to the RFE within a specified amount of time. If you receive an RFE, contact ISS as soon as possible, so that we can assist you in responding and answer any questions you may have.

Approval Notice:

You may or may not receive an approval notice confirming your OPT has been approved. This approval notice is not considered proof of work authorization. You must wait until you have your EAD card and your OPT start date has arrived to begin working.  Sometimes USCIS sends an approval notice, and sometimes not, so do not be concerned if you do not get an approval notice.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card:

This is your official permission to work in the United States. If you receive your EAD card before your OPT start date, you must still wait for your OPT start date to arrive before beginning work.

Employment Issues on OPT

In order to qualify as employment for OPT:

 

  • The position must be directly related to your major field of study. It must also be appropriate to your degree level.

  • You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week. If you have more than one job, the combined hours worked for all jobs must total at least 20 per week.

 

The type of employment may include:

 

Multiple employers – A student may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.

Short-term multiple employers (performing artists) – A student, such as a musician or other type of performing artist, may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration.

Work for hire - This is also commonly referred to as contracting or sub-contracting, where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, the student must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company.

Self-employed business owner – A student on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program. Please consult an immigration attorney for guidance on starting a business.

Employment through an agency or consulting firm – A student on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing he or she worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.

Paid employment – A student may work part time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.

Unpaid employment –A student may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this practice does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for a student on post-completion OPT. A student must be able to provide evidence acquired from the student’s employer to verify that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

(Resource: SEVP Policy Guidance 1004-03)

 

Please note: Volunteering is only appropriate when it does not violate the United States Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act. There are NO ongoing volunteer opportunities at Purdue University for F-1 students on OPT. You should not suggest that you would like to volunteer in your department or any other department at Purdue, and no department should allow you to volunteer without checking with ISS first. Please see ISS before accepting any volunteer opportunities. Failure to do so could result in a severe violation of your F-1 Status.

Also note that you may not begin working until the start date on your EAD card. If you begin working, even in an unpaid position, before the start of the EAD card, this is considered unauthorized employment. This is a severe violation of your status and will result in the loss of your OPT benefit.

You may change jobs while on OPT, as long as each position is directly related to your major field of study. You may not work at any student positions, or any research or teaching assistantship positions.

Unemployment on OPT

Immigration regulations state that “students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment” during OPT (8 C.F.R. 214.2[f][1])[ii][E]).

This means that beginning on the OPT start date printed on your EAD card, each day that you do not have a job counts toward unemployment. This includes weekends and holidays, as well as days spent outside the United States. If you are employed (i.e. on payroll) and taking a temporary break or vacation from a current job, this does not count as unemployment.

If you are getting close to your 90 day limit and will not be employed by the 90th day, before that date you should :

 

  • Change visa categories

  • Apply to continue your education by a change of level or transfer to another SEVP certified school

  • Begin appropriate volunteer work

  • Prepare to exit the U.S.

 

Note that volunteer work must be in your major field of study and must be at least 20 hours per week. You must be able to provide evidence from your employer that you worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of unpaid employment.

You are responsible for counting the number of days of unemployment you have accrued while on OPT, so it is important to keep track of start and end dates of each job you have. Schools are not required to report to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if a student has exceeded the 90 days of unemployment, but you should be aware that you may be denied future immigration benefits if USCIS determines that you exceeded the limitations on unemployment.

Reporting Requirements on OPT

While on OPT, you must report to ISS any changes to personal or employment information within 10 days of the change. To report, log into myISS at https://connect.iss.purdue.edu/, find the F-1 Optional Practical Training section, then choose the appropriate e-form.

Please note that you must be on an approved period of OPT to make updates. If your OPT has not yet begun, please wait until after your OPT start date to update. 

How to Log In to myISS:

If you still have an active Purdue student account:

  1. Go to https://connect.iss.purdue.edu/
  2. Log in with "Full Client Services for Students & Scholars" by clicking the blue login button in the left box on the main page. 
  3. Enter your Purdue Career Account ID and password.
  4. Expand the appropriate section on the left-hand side of the screen.
  5. Click the appropriate link and follow instructions in the e-form.

If you are no longer enrolled or engaged in activity at Purdue:

  1. Go to https://connect.iss.purdue.edu
  2. Log in with "Limited Services for Students & Scholars" by clicking "Limited Services" in the right box on the main page.
  3. First time users:
    • If it is your first time accessing myISS, you will need to request a PIN. Click the "E-mail me my Limited Access PIN" button.
    • Enter your PUID. USE ONLY ONE OF THE LEADING ZEROS. Do not enter dashes. You will enter a 9-digit number. Ex. 012345678
    • An email with the PIN will be sent to the email address Purdue ISS has on file for you. Be sure to check your spam folder. Contact ISS if you do not receive an email - we may not have a valid email address on file for you. Keep record of your PIN!
    • After you have received the PIN, navigate back to the Login page, enter your PUID (ONLY 9 DIGITS - DO NOT ENTER THE FIRST ZERO), your date of birth, and the PIN.
    • Expand the appropriate section on the left-hand side of the screen.
    • Click the appropriate link and follow instructions in the e-form.
  4. Returning users:
    • Enter your PUID (ONLY 9 DIGITS - DO NOT ENTER THE FIRST ZERO), your date of birth, and the PIN.
    • Expand the appropriate section on the left-hand side of the screen.
    • Click the appropriate link and follow instructions in the e-form.

Required to report changes within 10 days:

Log in to myISS and navigate to the “OPT Reporting” e-form group in the “F-1 Optional Practical Training” category.

Use this e-form group to report all changes to personal and employment information within 10 days. You must inform ISS each and every time your information changes. Also use this e-form to periodically validate information while on OPT. This e-form may also be used to request a new travel signature while on OPT. Use the following e-forms to report: 

Upload an OPT-Related Document

  • Receipt Notice
  • Approval Notice
  • EAD
  • Job Offer Letter

NOTE: Do not upload a copy of your Social Security card.

Reporting OPT Employment Information

(e-form appears only once on active period of OPT)

  • Starting employment with new employer
  • Employer name change
  • Work location change 
  • Supervisor change 
  • Job title and job description change 
  • Changes in full-time vs part-time employment

Report Employment End Date

(e-form appears only once on active period of OPT)

  • Report the end date of employment

Report No Longer On OPT

  • Change in visa status,including approval of H1-B petition, other approval of adjustment of status, or any other change in immigration status. You must submit proof of approval for any change in status.
  • Transfer to another school to start a new degree program
  • Change to a new degree program at Purdue University
  • Permanent departure from the U.S. before the end of your OPT if you decide to end your work early and forfeit the remainder of your OPT

REQUIRED: Personal Information on OPT

  • Legal name 
  • Living address
  • Phone number
  • Email 

Note: it is required to submit this form in order to submit the e-form group.

Travel Signature Request on OPT

(e-form appears only once on active period of OPT)

  • to indicate if you would like an I-20 printed after filling out e-forms to update information
  • and/or to request a travel signature
    • NOTE: when requesting a travel signature, please ensure that you have already reported your employment information here. If in doubt, please report the information again, and we will check your record to ensure up-to-date information. 

REQUIRED: Finalize your OPT Report

Note: to submit your request fully to ISS, you must submit this e-form. If you do not submit this e-form, ISS will not be notified of any of your update requests. You will receive an email confirmation once you have successfully submitted the e-form group. 

Note on Address Updates: 

Please note that updating your residential address has no connection to the EAD card mailing address. If you need to update the EAD card mailing address, contact ISS directly instead of the USCIS National Service Center. To avoid unnecessary complications and problems, ISS recommends you file your OPT application with a requested EAD card mailing address that will remain valid for at least four months. 

Travel on OPT

International travel while on OPT or while OPT is pending is possible, but you should exercise caution.

For more detailed information on traveling, please see F-1: Travel Abroad.

Until graduation date

Filing for OPT should not have an effect on your ability to travel and reenter the U.S. before your graduation date. However, it is advisable to take as much information about your OPT application as possible. To reenter the U.S. before your graduation, even if you have applied for OPT, you must present the following documents to the officer at the port-of-entry:

  • Valid passport

  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport

  •  I-20 with travel signature dated within six months of your reentry to the U.S.

  • I-797c Notice of Action Receipt from USCIS (recommended)

  • Job offer letter (recommended)

After graduation date

You are strongly advised not to travel outside the U.S. before you receive your EAD card. The following documents must be presented upon reentry to the U.S.:

  • Valid passport

  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport

  • I-20 with travel signature dated within six months of your reentry to the U.S.

  • Valid EAD

  • A job offer letter from a prospective employer or a job letter from a current employer.

Please note that while your EAD card indicates “Not valid for reentry to the United States,” it is still possible to travel internationally while on OPT. It only means your EAD card is not a reentry document. Your F-1 visa is your re-entry document, and during your OPT period, you must still have a valid F-1 visa to reenter the United States.

For more information about reentering the U.S., please see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel

Important: Do not attempt to reenter the United States on a B visa or visa waiver while waiting for OPT approval, or because you have an expired F-1 visa. Doing so automatically ends your F-1 status and you forfeit your OPT. ISS cannot correct or change this.

Travel Signature             

Travel signatures while on OPT are good for six months. Please look at your I-20 to check if your last travel signature will be less than six months old on the date of your return to the U.S. You will also want to ensure that your I-20 is completely up to date when you travel. (Ex. If your current I-20 says “OPT Requested” and your OPT has since been approved, you will want to request a new I-20 with travel signature.  If you need a travel signature while on OPT, please log in to myISS and navigate to the “F-1 Optional Practical Training” category, and then to the “OPT Reporting” e-form group. In this e-form group, you can verify that you have reported all personal and employment information, as well as request a travel signature.

Getting an F-1 Visa Stamp on OPT

If your F-1 visa has expired and you wish to travel outside of the U.S., a new F-1 visa must be obtained before re-entering the U.S. If you need to apply for a new visa, please consult the Immigration Counselor who assisted you with your OPT application prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks.

Also see this guide: http://www.iss.purdue.edu/Resources/Docs/Immigration/RenewingYourStudentVisa.pdf

If a petition has been filed on your behalf, such as for an H1-B, you should consult with legal counsel in regards to traveling with a pending petition.

Attending Classes and OPT

While on OPT, you may not take classes toward a new degree. You are allowed to take classes that are avocational or recreational in nature as long as you are part-time and non-degree seeking. You are advised to discuss these plans with your Immigration Counselor.

If you decide to begin a new full-time program of student, you will need to either change your educational level (if you will pursue your new program at Purdue) or transfer your SEVIS record (if you will attend a different university). As soon as you begin your new program at Purdue or on the date your SEVIS record is released to another institution, the rest of your OPT is forfeited and you must stop working.  You cannot save any unused OPT days.

Social Security Information

Social Security Number Information

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary non-residents with employment by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSNs are used to track individuals for taxation purposes. It is not used for identification purposes.

In order to work in the United States, you must obtain a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). A non-U.S. citizen may obtain a SSN if s/he has permission to work in the United States or is required to by a federal, state, or local government agency. Currently, SSNs are only issued to non-residents who have been granted employment eligibility. Dependents with F-2 status are not eligible for a SSN because they are not permitted to work.

Once issued, your Social Security Number is yours for life. Keep your card in a safe place along with your other important documents. If you lose your SS card, you must apply for a replacement card and show proof of current employment.

The SSA provides information for international students on how to apply for a SSN here: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10181.pdf

Applying for OPT and SSN

If you do not already have a Social Security number (SSN), you may apply for one at the same time you apply for OPT using the same form I-765. This will allow you to apply for an SSN or replacement card without having to visit a Social Security Office. USCIS will send the required information to apply for an SSN to the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you are approved for OPT, you will receive an EAD card showing your work authorization, and within two weeks after that, you should receive your Social Security card.

Please note, if you are applying for an SSN using the I-765, you may not use the ISS address on the I-765 form. Use an address where you will be able to receive mail there continuously for the next four months. USCIS and SSA will use this address to send you documents related to your OPT application and your SSN application. If you plan to move during this time or are unsure if you will, use a reliable friend or family member's address in the U.S. If using someone else's address, write "c/o" and then their name to ensure delivery. Please note that federal mail is not forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service, even if you have done an official "change of address" notification. Therefore it is best to use a secure address.

Grace Period on OPT

You have a 60-day grace period after your EAD expires. During this time, you may:

 

  • Remain in the U.S. and prepare to exit before the end of the grace period

  • Apply to continue your education at Purdue or transfer to another SEVP certified school

  • Change visa categories

 

Please note that during your grace period, you cannot work and you cannot leave and re-enter the U.S.

If you exceeded the 90 days of unemployment on OPT (or total of 150 days while on STEM), you do not have a grace period.

If you have been granted a STEM extension or Cap-Gap extension, these extensions begin immediately after the date your OPT expires, without a 60-day grace period in between. You need to apply for either of these extensions before your EAD expires.

H-1B Cap Gap Extension

Overview of H-1B Cap-Gap

H-1B is a work visa that is sponsored by an employer. The H-1B cap is the limit on the number of H-1Bs allowed each year. The cap does not apply to all H-1B visas. You must discuss with your employer and/or immigration attorney whether your H-1B petition is subject to the cap.

The period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period is known as the "cap-gap”. The H-1B cap-gap extension allows certain students with pending or approved cap-subject H-1B petitions to remain in the U.S. in F-1 status until the start date of their approved H-1B employment period, even if the OPT authorization and/or F-1 grace period would have otherwise expired before October 1.

Who is Eligible for the H-1B Cap Gap Extension

You are eligible for the cap gap extension if both:

  • Your employer files a cap-subject H-1B petition for you on or after April 1 and requests a change of status to H-1B to begin October 1.
  • You are within your OPT authorization period or 60-day grace period following the OPT expiration when your employer submits the H-1B petition on your behalf.

If your OPT authorization is still valid when your employer submits your cap-subject H-1B petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), your OPT authorization will be extended. You can continue working in F-1 status through the extension date.

If your OPT authorization is expired but you are in your 60-day grace period when your employer submits your H-1B petition to USCIS, your F-1 status is extended. You cannot work but you can remain in the U.S. through the extension date.

Extension Dates

The length of your extension depends on the status of your H-1B application:

  • Filed: If your H-1B petition is properly filed (but not yet receipted or approved), your OPT authorization is extended to June 1. If your OPT authorization already expired but you were in your 60-day grace period at the time of filing, your F-1 status is extended to June 1.
  • Selected for receipting: If your H-1B petition is selected for receipting, your OPT authorization is extended to September 30. If your OPT authorization already expired but you were in your 60-day grace period at the time of filing, your F-1 status is extended to September 30.
  • Approved: If your H-1B petition is approved, your OPT authorization is extended to September 30. If your OPT authorization already expired but you were in your 60-day grace period at the time of filing, your F-1 status is extended to September 30. 

How to Request the H-1B Cap-Gap Extension

The cap gap extension of F-1 status automatically begins when your employer submits the H-1B petition to USCIS.

Important note: ISS cannot and will not check your SEVIS record for H1-B application updates. Only your employer can provide accurate, official updates regarding your H1-B application.

Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap-gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing. 

To obtain your Cap-Gap I-20:

  1. Log into myISS at https://connect.iss.purdue.edu/. Read the instructions for how to log in.
  2. Click on the F-1 Optional Practical Training section.
  3. Update any information you need to in the "OPT Reporting" e-form groups.
  4. After you've updated your information, click on the "Request H-1B Cap-Gap Extension I-20" e-form. Follow the instructions in the form to select the situation that applies to you and upload the required documentation (see below). 

If your H-1B petition is:

  • Filed:
    • If your original OPT authorization is valid through June 1, do not request a new I-20 based on H-1B filing only: wait instead for the receipt or approval notice.
    • If your original OPT will expire before June 1, submit a copy of the petition and FedEx, UPS, or USPS Express/certified mail receipt to ISS.
  • Selected for receipting:
    • Submit a copy of the I-797 Notice of Action Receipt Notice to ISS.
  • Approved:
    • Submit a copy of your I-797 Approval Notice to ISS.

ISS will print an I-20 for you that indicates the extension of your F-1 status and (if eligible) extension of your OPT employment authorization. The cap-gap extension benefit is automatic, so you can continue working (if eligible) and remain in the U.S. while waiting for your new I-20.

Travel during H-1B Cap-Gap Extension

After an H-1B petition for a change of status is filed, consult your employer's immigration attorney about all international travel, whether or not your EAD is expired.

  • If your EAD is expired, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.
  • You must consult your employer's attorney about whether and when you may be eligible to re-enter the U.S. in H-1B status.

Denied H-1B Petitions

If USCIS denies, rejects, or revokes an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an F-1 student covered by the automatic cap-gap extension, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period (from the notification date of the denial, rejection, or revocation of the petition) before he or she is required to depart the U.S., change degree level, transfer to another SEVIS approved school, or change status as long as the student has not otherwise violated status. The student cannot (1) leave and re-enter the U.S. during this time and (2) cannot work.

For denied cases: It should be noted that the 60-day grace period does not apply to an F-1 student whose accompanying change of status request is denied due to discovery of a status violation. Such a student in any event is not eligible for the automatic cap-gap extension. Similarly, the 60-day grace period would not apply to the case of a student whose petition was revoked based on a finding of fraud or misrepresentation discovered following approval. In both of these instances, the student would be required to leave the United States immediately.

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