• American flag flying
Maintaining OPT Status

International Student Services

» Maintaining OPT Status

While on OPT, you are required to keep your SEVIS record up-to-date and report certain information to maintain your F-1 status. 

Step 1: Submit a copy of your EAD to ISS 

After USCIS approves your I-765 online application and you receive your EAD card, email a copy to iss@chapman.edu.

Step 2: SEVP Portal Account 

After your official OPT start date on your EAD card, SEVP will email you an activation link to create a SEVP Portal account to report your personal and employment information.

Step 3: Maintain OPT Status

90-Day Unemployment Rule

  • During the OPT period, you are limited to a cumulative of 90 unemployment days.
  • Unemployment days are counted from the official OPT start date on your EAD card.
  • You must engage at least 20 hours or more per week not to accrue unemployment days.

Types of Employment

While students are on OPT, you must find employment directly related to their field of study and work at least 20 hours per week to maintain their OPT status.

Employment types can be:

  • Paid: Regular paid employment.
  • Unpaid: You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern.
  • Internship: The title of the position can be an internship. As long as the internship responsibilities are related to your field of study.
  • Self-employed or business owner: You may start a business and be self-employed. Students should apply for a business license first and actively engage in a business related to their field of study.
  • Multiple employers: You may work for more than one employer at once.
  • Short-term or contracted: Students such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short-term or contracted jobs (gigs).
  • Third-party agency or staffing firm: You may be employed by a third-party or staffing agency.

International Travel

Students with approved OPT remain eligible to travel abroad and return to the U.S. You should inform your employer of your travel plans and have a contingency employment plan in the event that you are unable to return to the U.S. in time to resume work. You should be sure to bring the following documents when traveling out of the U.S.:

  • OPT I-20 with a valid travel endorsement
  • Passport (Valid for a least 6 months beyond the date you are traveling)
  • Valid F-1 Visa (If expired, you will need to renew the F-1 visa in your home country)
  • EAD Card
  • I-797 Notice of Receipt
  • Job offer letter, if applicable

Note that your travel endorsement is only valid for 6 months. You can submit your travel request here.

After OPT End Date

You must stop working on the OPT end date on your EAD card.

After your OPT end date, F-1 students are permitted to remain in the U.S.for 60 calendar days (60-day Grace Period) and can pursue the following options:

  • Leave the U.S.: If you plan to depart the U.S. after OPT, you must leave within your 60-day grace period.
  • Change visa status: You must be approved for a change of status within the 60-day grace period.
  • Start a new program at Chapman: You must be accepted to a new program at Chapman before your 60-day grace period end.
  • Transfer to a different institution: You must request a Transfer Out to transfer your I-20 to your new institution within the 60-day grace period.

Apply for STEM OPT Extension

Students who have received a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree in a STEM field at Chapman may be eligible to apply for a 24-Month STEM OPT. Students’ I-20 program major code must be in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List

Students must apply for STEM OPT Extension as early as 90 days before the first-year OPT expiration date.

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Toggle Section

International Student Services provides general guidance. Any advice provided to you by the ISS should not be construed as legal advice.

Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, government agencies such as USCIS/ICE/CBP may change their interpretation of immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. We will do our best to provide the most current guidance.

Each case is fact-specific and it is advised that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation.

Contact ISS

Visit our contact page to email us, call us or make an appointment with a team member.