OPT and Your Final Semester

  • OPT:
    • OPT is a benefit of F-1 status.
    • Therefore, students must be in valid F-1 status to apply for OPT.
    • F-1 status is only valid in the United States.
    • Therefore, students may only apply for OPT while in the United States.
    • A student who has not yet completed his or her program must be enrolled in courses which require their physical presence in the United States while school is in session.
    • Courses which do not require the student’s physical presence in the United States do not generally count toward maintaining status.
    • Students who only need to complete their capstone or thesis are eligible to remain in the United States for the semester in which they are enrolled in their capstone/thesis.
    • Students who do not complete their capstone/thesis in this semester are ineligible for a program extension, but remain eligible for OPT.

 

  • Leaving the United States for a semester:
    • A student may choose to complete their program outside of the United States, however this means the student is no longer in valid F-1 status and the student’s SEVIS record will be terminated.
    • Students who have not yet completed their program coursework and wish to continue their studies by enrolling in courses requiring their physical presence in a future term are eligible to have their SEVIS records returned to Active Student Status.
    • Students who have already completed their program, or will only in be enrolled in courses which do not require physical presence in the United States, are ineligible for reactivation of their SEVIS record.

 

  • Students who wish to complete their program outside of the United States and return for OPT:
    • Due to the physical presence requirement, students may not apply for OPT outside of the United States.
    • Students who leave the United States to complete their program will not be eligible to return after their program is completed unless they begin a new degree program.
    • Students who leave the United States to complete their program are no longer in valid F-1 status.
    • Therefore, such students are no longer eligible for OPT.
    • Students may travel while on OPT, however this is only recommended if the student already has obtained and EAD card and an employment offer/confirmation letter.
    • The ISAO recommends that such students complete their program in the United States by applying for an Academic Exception to Full Course of Study in their final semester and remaining in the United States to apply for OPT.
    • Students who have completed all program-related coursework are eligible for OPT even if they have not yet finished their capstone/thesis.