General Requirements and Conditions

F-1 students who have completed one full academic year (two semesters) of full-time study and who are maintaining their F-1 status are eligible to apply for OPT. OPT authorization allows off-campus work that is directly related to a student’s major area of study.  A job offer is not needed to apply for OPT, and OPT employment can be paid or unpaid as long as any unpaid work does not violate any labor laws. All F-1 students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT during/after each degree level.

This page has information on the following:

When can students engage in standard OPT?

Standard OPT can be done either duing their academic program (Pre-Completion of the program end date on the I-20) or after the completion of their academic program (Post-Completion of the I-20 program end date). NO OPT can begin before receipt of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or before the start date listed on the EAD.

Pre-Completion OPT Timing and Limits:

  • Pre-Completion OPT during the student’s annual vacation can be full-time or part-time;

Post-Completion OPT Timing and Limits:

  • Post-Completion OPT authorization cannot begin before a student’s program end date, nor on a date that is more than 60 days after this date, except in the following circumstance:
  • "Coursework Completion" OPT. Graduate students with only thesis or equivalent remaining may apply for post-completion OPT based on their completion of courswork. Students choosing this OPT option should note that:
    • Their SEVIS program end date will be shortned to the day before their proposed OPT start date as part of the application process, and   
    • They will not be eligible for a program extension in SEVIS after reaching the end date
  • The following limits automatically apply to any post-completion OPT authorization:
    • OPT is automatically terminated if you transfer to another school or begin studies at another educational level at Marquette
    • Students with approved post-completion OPT who do not actually complete their program by their I-20 program end date may only engage in part-time OPT until they complete all degree requirements. (Student's in this scenarro whose OPT has not been approved may be able to withdraw or cancel their OPT and should contact OIE to discuss their options.) 

Application/Authorization timeline for an OPT 

OPT applications are submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization. Post-completion OPT applications can reach USCIS up to 90 days before, and no later than 60 days after, the program completion date on the I-20.  Pre-completion OPT applications can reach USCIS up to 90 days before, and no later than 60 days after, the requested employment start date. All OPT applications must reach USCIS within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the OPT recommendation in SEVIS. USCIS processing time for OPT applications typically takes about 8 to 10 weeks but can vary significantly. Processing time estimates can be found at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/ 

If the status of your OPT application is approved and you haven’t received the card in about a week, or if the status is still pending after the processing time posted by USCIS at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/, you can contact USCIS either via phone at 1-800-375-5283 or you can file an online case inquiry or service request at https://www.uscis.gov/tools/uscis-tools-and-resources.  Be sure to have your receipt notice/number ready when taking one of these actions.

Application process for OPT

Before you start the OPT application process, be sure you understand the information above on OPT eligilbity requirments, and when students can engage in OPT.  You are also advised to read these excerpts from the excerpts from the government regulations related to OPT. 

Step 1:

Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your proposed OPT and complete the OPT Request Form for OPT.

Step 2:

Complete Form I-765 (click link and scroll down to find form)  

  • Instructions for completing Form I-765
  • Tips for completing Form I-765:
    • Use black ink or the on-line fillable form.  Print the form before signing. 

    • Print and submit the entire form (7 pages) even if you don’t enter information on pages 5-7.

    • Part 2 - #21a: Your Form I-94 number is the 11-digit number on your printed I-94 verification

    • Part 2 - #26:  Your SEVIS number is indicated on your Form I-20 as “SEVIS ID”

    • Part 2 - #27:  Refer to “Foreign Student Categories” in the I-765 instructions, page 3.

    • Part 3 - #7a:  Be sure to sign your name in black ink within the space provided.

    • Part 6 Additional Information – Use this section to provide all previously used SEVIS numbers and evidence of any previously authorized CPT or OPT and the academic level at which it was authorized. 

      For previously authorized CPT – enter this information in Part 6:

      #1.a.b.c.: Enter your name

      #3a: Page number: 3

      #3b: Part number: 2

      #3c: Item number: 27

      #3d: Enter this sentence: CPT was authorized for (month/day/year) until (month/day/year) while pursuing my (degree level) degree.  This CPT was (full-time/part-time)

      Example:  CPT was authorized for 6/1/2018 – 8/1/2018 while pursuing my Master’s degree.  This CPT was full-time.

      For previously authorized OPT – enter this information in Part 6:

      #1.a.b.c.: Enter your name

      #3a: Page number: 2

      #3b: Part number: 2

      #3c: Item number: 12

      #3d: Enter this sentence: OPT was authorized for (month/day/year) until (month/day/year) while pursuing my (degree level) degree.  This OPT was (full-time/part-time).

      Example:  OPT was authorized for 1/15/2018 – 5/12/2018 while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree.  This OPT was part-time.

      For previously used SEVIS numbers – enter this information in Part 6:

      #1.a.b.c.: Enter your name

      #3a: Page number: 3

      #3b: Part number: 2

      #3c: Item number: 26

      #3d: Enter this sentence:  Previous SEVIS number Nxxxxx was in used 20XX

      Example:  SEVIS number N1010101010 was used in 2015.

Step 3:

Gather the following documents which are required for your application:

  • OPT Request Form
  • Completed I-765 Form
  • 2 passport size photos (see I-765 instructions for details). Write your name and I-94 number in pencil or felt pen on the back of each photo.
  • a copy of your passport information page (including name, date of birth, issue and expiration date)
  • a copy of your I-94 card (front and back) or printed I-94 verification
  • copies of all previous I-20 forms documenting CPT or OPT authorization
  • a copy of any previously issued EAD cards (front and back)
  • Filing Fee: $410 before April 1, 2024.  Starting April 1, 2024: $470 for online filing / $520 for paper filingf. (Always check the USCIS forms page to ensure you a paying the correct fee and using the latest form version.) If appyling via the traditional paper option, you can pay via personal check or money order made out to the “Department of Homeland Security."  If appyling online, you can pay via credit card, debit card, or withdrawal from a checking or savings account.)

Step 4:

Make an appointment to meet with your OIE advisor and send a completed copy of the I-765 form and the OPT request form to michael.groen@marquette.edu ahead of the meeting.

Step 5:

At the appointment, the OIE advisor will check the I-765 and the OPT Request Form, make needed entries in SEVIS, and issue you a Form I-20 for your OPT application.

Step 6:

Follow the mailing instructions below and mail your OPT application along with the following items to the USCIS center.

  • a copy of your new I-20 form with OPT endorsement and your signature on page one.
  • completed I-765 Form
  • 2 passport size photos (see page 8 of I-765 instruction for details). Write your name and I-94 number in pencil on the back of each photo.
  • a copy of your passport information page (including name, date of birth, issue and expiration date)
  • a copy of your I-94 card or printed I-94 verification
  • copies of all previous I-20 forms documenting CPT or OPT authorization
  • copies of any previously issued EAD cards (front and back)
  • Filing Fee: $410 before April 1, 2024.  Starting April 1, 2024: $470 for online filing / $520 for paper filingf.. (Always check the USCIS forms page to ensure you a paying the correct fee and using the latest version of the form.) Personal checks or money orders should be made out to the “Department of Homeland Security."  To pay by credit card you must complete form G-1450 and place the signed, completed form on the top of your application when filing.

Mail your application documents to the USCIS Lockbox. Be sure to keep copies for your own records.

For US postal service:

USCIS
P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

For courier (FedEx, UPS): OIE recommends sending your OPT application via courier

USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517 

 

Waiting for authorization/Checking your application's progress

About 10 to 14 days after you submit your application for OPT to USCIS, you should receive a receipt notice by postal mail. This notice will include a Receipt Number which you can use to check the status of your application on www.uscis.gov. Look for “Case Status” on the website home page.  Checking the status of your application on www.uscis.gov is the best way to know about your application's status.

If your OPT application and Form I-765 has been pending more than 75 days (from the receipt date on your Receipt Notice), you may contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 and ask that an Approaching Regulatory Time frame "service request" be created. The NCSC will route the service request to the appropriate office for review.

 Once you are approved for OPT by USCIS, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) by postal mail. The EAD card contains the authorization number, the dates of approved employment authorization, the bearer’s name, photo and signature. The EAD card is proof of employment authorization during the dates listed on the card. Employment authorization begins on the date requested or the date the employment authorization is adjudicated, whichever is later. You may not begin employment prior to the approved starting date. Please provide OIE with a copy of your EAD card once you receive it.


 

Important Information for Students on Post-completion OPT

 

Reporting Requirements during post-completion OPT

Your F-1 status continues during OPT, so you must report changes to the information below within 10 days the change. Except as noted, changes can be reported either via OIE's OPT Verification Form or via your SEVIS Portal. (SEVP@ice.dhs.gov emails details on creating the Portal when your OPT is approved.)  

  • Residence address in the United States
  • Legal name
  • Telephone number
  • E-mail address
  • United States legal status (i.e. inform us if you change your status to H1-B, J-1, H-4, etc.)
  • Information about your employer, including employer name, address, and starting date
  • Information about any disruption of your employment such as job termination or change of employers
  • Departure from U.S. When Ending OPT Early  

    This change should be reported to an MU DSO via email including this statement - “I have departed the U.S. on date X and do not intend to return using my MU I-20 and related OPT authorization.”  - so your SEVIS record can be manually completed by an MU DSO.

General OPT Requirements to Remember:

  • OPT employment may not begin prior to your approved starting date.
  • OPT employment must be in a job that is related to your major field of study.
  • OPT employment may be paid or unpaid. Volunteer or internship positions which are unpaid, yet related to your field of study, can be submitted as evidence of your OPT activity. You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern when this activity does not violate any labor laws. We suggest that you obtain documentation from the organization/company which confirms the dates of your volunteer activity.
  • Employment may be full-time or part-time. If you have more than one job at the same time, please provide employer information about each job.

 

Periods of Unemployment during Post-Completion OPT

During post-completion OPT your F–1 status depends on employment and you may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during the initial 12 months of your post-completion OPT. You must work at least 20 hours per week in a qualifying position to be considered employed. The 20 hours can include hours from more than one position and the positions can be paid or unpaid as long as they do not violate U.S. labor law.

Employment outside the U.S.during approved OPT generally counts as unemployment 
unless you are either employed during a period of leave authorized by an employer or are traveling as part of your employment.

Exceeding 90 days of unemployment during standard OPT is a violation of your F-1 status and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may terminate your F-1 status and/or deny future immigration benefits if you exceeded this limit. Days of unemployment are tracked in your SEVIS record based on the OPT employment data you are required to report.

To avoid violating your status by exceeding 90 days of unmployment during standard OPT, you should take one of the actions below before exceeding this limit: 

  • Depart the U.S.
  • Transfer to another SEVP certified school
  • Change education levels
  • Take action to otherwise maintain status in the U.S.

 

Traveling outside the U.S. during Post-Completion OPT

Returning from travel outside the U.S. during OPT is generally possible if you have the correct documents for your situation as described below. (Students considering working outside the U.S. during OPT should see the related information in the Unemployment section above.)

Travel after applying for OPT but before your I-20 program end date is the same as travel for any enrolled F-1 sudent. See the Travel Outside the U.S. section of this website for details.

Travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending can lead to issues upon reentry and is not generally recommended. If you must travel with a pending OPT application, please see an MU DSO prior to departure.

Travel after your OPT is approved is generally ok and you can return to the U.S. by presenting the following documents:

  • Your most recent I-20 with a DSO signature no older than 6 months
  • a valid F-1 visa in your passport (If your visa is expired you may apply for new F-1 visa)
  • a valid passport
  • your EAD card

Although not required, employed students may also wish to have a letter from their employer.

If you need a travel signature on your I-20, contact the Office of International Education at Marquette at least two weeks prior to your departure. 

Missing travel documents?

Students with lost or missing passports should contact their embassy or cosulate for assistance. Students with lost F-1 visas must make an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consuate to get a replacement visa before reentering the U.S. Students who lost their signed I-20 or forgot to get a travel signature should email OIE to request a replacement/updated I-20 via email. In limited cases, US CBP may allow entry to students who can otherwise be denied entry (e.g. without their I-20, without a valid travel signature, have not paid the I-901 fee, with certain SEVIS status problems). The conditions of any I-515 entry must be resolved by the student within the 30 days.

 

At the End of Your Post-Completion OPT

If you complete your OPT period in valid F-1 status (i.e. no excess unemployment, all employment properly reported, etc.) you you may remain in the U.S. for an additional 60 days. During this “grace period” you may transfer to another academic program, change to another visa status, apply for "Cap Gap" relief if transittioning to H-1B, or prepare to depart from the U.S. You may not be employed during this period.

Transfer to Another School / Begin New Program at MU:

During authorized OPT students may transfer to a new school or begin a new program at Marquette if the new program will being no more than 5 months after the transfer release date or the last date of authorized OPT whichever is earlier. OPT authorization will automatically end on the transfer release date or on the start date of the new MU program (or the date you reenter the U.S. using the I-20 for the new MU program if earlier than the program start date). The request for a SEVIS transfer or for an I-20 to begin a new program at MU must be received by OIE before the end of the 60 day grace period.

Change of Status During OPT: 

If you change non-immigrant status in the U.S. during your OPT, your OPT will end on the date of the USCIS action notice or your entry to the U.S. in the new status. Unused OPT time will be lost.

Abandoning OPT:

If you decide to leave the United States before the authorized OPT ending date on your EAD and do not plan to return to the U.S., you must report this to an MU DSO via an email including this statement - “I have departed the U.S. on date X and do not intend to return using my MU I-20 and related OPT authorization.”  - so your SEVIS record can be manually completed by an MU DSO.

 

STEM OPT Extension

Students who have completed a degree in specific fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). Students are limited to one STEM extension per level of study, but may be eligible for a second STEM extension after completing an additional STEM degree at a higher level. Not all STEM fields are designated for this extension. The list of eligible STEM fields is available on the Department of Homeland Security website.

Before applying for STEM OPT, be sure you have read and understand the information in this section which highlights important details about STEM OPT eligibility, the application process and timing, and the F-1 regulatory obligations of students on STEM OPT.   

Students applying for STEM OPT should also read these excerpts from the government regulations on the 24-month (STEM) extension of post-completion OPT as well as the USCIS description of STEM OPT for F-1 students.

 

What are the eligibility requirements for STEM OPT?

In addition to the general requirements above, to be eligible to apply for STEM OPT a student must:

  • Be in a valid period of post-completion OPT authorization
  • Have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a designated STEM field. (To determine if your major is a STEM designated field, refer to the primary major listed on your Form I-20 and the government designated list.)
    • Under certain circumstances, a student may use a prior STEM degree to be eligible for a STEM extension. This means a degree earned before your most recent Marquette degree.  To use a prior degree, the student must:
      • Have received their most recent degree from an accredited U.S. university
      • Have received their prior, qualifying STEM degree (at the bachelor's level or higher) within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension
      • have not used the prior STEM degree as the basis for a previous STEM extension
  • Have a properly completed Form I-983 from an employer that must:
    • Be registered in the E-Verify Program
    • Work with the student to complete the Form I-983 Training Plan and sign the I-983 to certify it is true and correct
    • Agree to review the student's annual self-evaluation and report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student’s school if the termination is prior to the end of the OPT period.
    • Note:  The Office of Human Resources has informed OIE that Marquette University does not participate in the E-Verify program. Therefore, Marquette is not an eligible employer for a STEM-OPT Extension.
  • Be employed by the STEM employer for at least 20 hours per week

Please note: Unpaid positions, self-employment, and working for a staffing company or temporary agency generally do not qualify as employment for a STEM extension.

 

What is the timeline to apply for STEM OPT authorization?

The STEM OPT application must be properly filed no more than 90 days before the end of your standard post-completion OPT authorization, within 30 days of the date the STEM recommendation is entered in SEVIS by your MU designated school official, and no later than your last day of standard OPT

Note: If you timely filed a STEM extension with USCIS, you may continue to work for up to 180 days beyond the expiration on your post-completion OPT EAD.  The employment must be with a STEM qualifying employer and follow the usual STEM extension regulations. 

 

Application process for STEM OPT

Step 1:

Complete the STEM OPT Extension Request Form

Step 2:

Submit a Form I-983 Training Plan

This form must be completed with the help of your employer and a Marquette DSO must determine that it is complete, signed, and addresses all program requirements.  If necessary, here is further information about completing the Training Plan   

Step 3:

Complete Form I-765 (click link and scroll down to find form) 

  • Instructions for completing Form I-765
  • Tips for completing Form I-765:
    • Use black ink or the on-line fillable form.  Print the form before signing. 

    • Print and submit the entire form (7 pages) even if you don’t enter information on pages 5-7.

    • Part 2 - #21a:  Your Form I-94 number is the 11-digit number on your printed I-94 verification

    •  Part 2 - #26:  Your SEVIS number is indicated on your Form I-20 as “SEVIS ID” 

    • Part 2 - #27:  Refer to “Foreign Student Categories” in the I-765 instructions, page 3.  The STEM OPT category is  (c) (3) (C).

    • Part 2 - #28a: List your degree and major.  For example, M.S. – Chemistry or B.S. – Mechanical Engineering.

    • Part 3 - #7a:  Be sure to sign your name in black ink within the space provided.

    • Part 6 Additional Information – Use this section to explain that your Marquette major is on the STEM Designation Degree Program list.

      Enter this information in Part 6:

      #1.a.b.c.: Enter your name

      #3a: Page number: 3

      #3b: Part number: 2

      #3c: Item number: 28a

      #3d:  Enter this sentence: (Degree level) degree with major in (name of major) is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List using CIP code (xxx).  (You can find your CIP code on your Form I-20 under Major 1 or Major 2.)

      Example:  Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering is on the STEM Designated Program List using CIP code 14.1001.

Step 4:

Gather the following documents which are required for your application:

  • STEM OPT Extension Request Form
  • Completed I-983 Form signed by you and your employer.  
  • Completed I-765 Form
  • 2 passport size photos (see I-765 instruction for details). Write your name and I-94 number in pencil or felt pen on the back of each photo.
  • a copy of your passport information page (including name, date of birth, issue and expiration date)
  • a copy of your I-94 card or printed I-94 verification
  • copies of all previous I-20 forms documenting CPT or OPT authorization
  • copies of any previously issued EAD cards (front and back)
  • a copy of your Marquette diploma showing your earned degree
  • Filing Fee: $410 before April 1, 2024.  Starting April 1, 2024: $470 for online filing / $520 for paper filingf. (Always check the USCIS forms page to ensure you a paying the correct fee and using the latest version of the form.) Personal checks or money orders should be made out to the “Department of Homeland Security."  To pay by credit card you must complete form G-1450 and place the signed, completed form on the top of your application when filing.

Step 5:

Email the documents listed below to michael.groen@marquette.edu for review: 

- Your completed I-983 form

- Your STEM Extension Request Form

- Your completed I-765 form

Upon successful review of these documents, OIE will updated your SEVIS record with your STEM OPT information and issue you a Form I-20 for your STEM OPT application. You will receive an email when the updated I-20 is issued ... students living near campus will be able to pick up the updated I-20 at OIE and students not living near campus will receive the updated I-20 as an email attachment.  

Step 6:

File your STEM OPT application and required application items with USCIS.

To apply via the traditional paper-based process, follow the instructions below to submit your STEM OPT application and required application items to the USCIS center. OIE strongly recommends you use a second or third day courier services so you have a tracking number to document USCIS receipt of your application.

You can also choose to submit your STEM OPT application online using the online I-765 filing process under the STEM OPT - (c)(3)(C) category. Students who choose to file online should note that OIE currently provides only limited advising on the details of this process.

Regardlless of filing method, remember to send your application within 30 days following the issuance of the new I-20 and before the completion date of your currently authorized OPT period.

Please note that you do not send Form I-983 to USCIS with your application. It is retained by OIE.

Paper-based Filing Instructions - Items to Include and Mailing Address Information:

  • A copy of your new I-20 form with STEM OPT endorsement and your signature on page one (if you received your new I-20 via email you can print and sign a copy to send in)
  • Completed I-765 Form
  • 2 passport size photos (see page 8 of I-765 instruction for details). Write your name and I-94 number in pencil on the back of each photo.
  • 1 copy of your passport information page (including name, date of birth, issue and expiration date)
  • 1 copy of your I-94 card (front and back) or printed I-94 verification
  • copies of all previous I-20 forms documenting CPT or OPT authorization
  • 1 copy of any previously issued EAD cards (front and back)
  • Copy of your Marquette diploma showing your earned degree
  • Filing Fee: $410 before April 1, 2024.  Starting April 1, 2024: $470 for online filing / $520 for paper filingf. (Always check the  USCIS forms page to ensure you a paying the correct fee and using the latest version of the form.) Personal checks or money orders should be made out to the “Department of Homeland Security."  To pay by credit card you must complete form G-1450 and place the signed, completed form on the top of your application when filing.

Mail your application documents to the USCIS Lockbox. Be sure to keep copies for your own records.

For US postal service:

USCIS 
P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

For courier (FedEx, UPS): OIE recommends sending your OPT application via courier

USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517 

 

Waiting for authorization

About 10 to 14 days after you submit your application for STEM OPT to USCIS, you should receive a receipt notice by postal mail. (Online filers will receive the notice via email.) This notice will include a Receipt Number which you can use to check the status of your application on the USCIS website at: www.uscis.gov. Look for “Case Status” on the website home page.

Once you are approved for STEM OPT by USCIS you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). The EAD card is proof of employment authorization during the dates listed on the card. Please provide OIE with a copy of your EAD card once you receive it.


Important Information for Students on STEM OPT

 

Reporting Requirements During STEM OPT

As described below, during STEM OPT you must make two types of ongoing reporting to OIE:  Regular STEM OPT Reporting based on changes to employment and personal information and STEM OPT Validation and Self-Evaluation Reporting every 6 months, annually, or at the end of any STEM OPT position.

 

Regular STEM OPT Reporting:

You must report changes to any of information listed below to an MU DSO within 10 days of the change. You should report via email using the OPT Verification Form, except as noted below, and the DSO will updated SEVIS. Please note that your STEM OPT employer has 

  • Residence or mailing address in the United States
  • Legal name
  • Telephone Number
  • E-mail address
  • United States legal status (i.e. inform us if you change your status to H1-B, J-1, H-4, etc.)
  • Changes to your I-983 details of a substantial nature (e.g. job title, company name, responsibilities, supervisor name, work address, etc.).  These changes must be reported via submission of an updated I-983 signed by you and your employer
  • Information about any disruption of your employment such as job termination (see End of Employment Reporting below)
  • New STEM OPT employmnent with a new E-Verify Employer. New STEM OPT employment requires submission of a new I-983 form, properly completed by you and your new employer, to an MU DSO before the start of the new employment.  

STEM OPT Validation and Self-Evaluation Reporting:

Regardless of whether there has been any change, you must make the following reports to an MU DSO on the timeline indicated:

    • 6-Month Validation Report- Every six (6) months from the start date of your STEM OPT authorization, you must email an OIE DSO an updated OPT Verification Form about your employment. Reporting is necessary even if nothing has changed with your employer.
    • 12-Month/24 Month Self-Evaluations - While on approved STEM OPT you must submit to OIE an annual self-evaluation at the 12 and 24 month point of STEM OPT using the "Evaluation on Student Progress"  section on the last page of your Form I-983.  The evaluation should be emailed to an OIE DSO with an updated OPT Verification Form.

    • End of Employment Reporting - If you end a STEM OPT position any time before the 24 month mark, you must submit two items to OIE:  A) a final self-evaluation, signed by your employer, using the "Evaluation on Student Progress" section on the last page of your Form I-983 no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the training opportunity, and B) an updated OPT Verification Form with the employment end date 
    • End of Employment Reporting, Employer Obligation - Your employer is required to notify and MU DSO of the end any STEM OPT position within 5 days.  This notice can be emailed. Be sure to remind your employer of this obligation as part of your end of employment processes.

Periods of Unemployment During STEM OPT

During STEM OPT maintaining your F–1 status is dependent upon employment. You may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period comprising your initial post-completion OPT and the subsequent 24-month STEM extension. To avoid accruing unemployment days during STEM OPT, you must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer for which you have a completed and approved Form I-983 on file with OIE. Each day during the authorized OPT period that you do not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment.

According to current government guidelines, the Department of Homeland Security may terminate your F-1 visa status if it determines that you exceeded the limitations on unemployment during post-completion OPT including STEM OPT.  This may also impact future immigration benefits that rely on evidence of valid F-1 status.

 

Remote Work During STEM OPT

Remote work during STEM OPT is permissible as long as you otherise continue to comply with all STEM OPT requirements and the training/mentoring/employment details as indicated on your Form I-983. If the remote work involves a change of the employment site location, the student must submit an upated, signed Form I-983 to their Marquette DSO and the DSO will updated the site information in SEVIS.   

 

Traveling Outside of the U.S. During STEM OPT

Returning from travel outside the U.S. during STEM OPT is generally possible if you have the correct documents for your situation as described below:

Travel after applying for STEM OPT but before your regular OPT ends is the same as travel during regular OPT and you can return to the U.S. by presenting the following documents:

  • Your most recent I-20 with a DSO signature no older than 6 months*
  • a valid F-1 visa in your passport (If your visa is expired you may apply for new F-1 visa)
  • a valid passport
  • your EAD card

Travel outside the U.S. while your STEM OPT application is pending and your regular OPT has ended is ok with the documents above plus your original STEM OPT application receipt notice.

Travel after your STEM OPT is approved is generally ok and you can return to the U.S. by presenting the following documents:

  • Your most recent I-20 with a DSO signature no older than 6 months*
  • a valid F-1 visa in your passport (If your visa is expired you may apply for new F-1 visa)
  • a valid passport
  • your STEM OPT EAD

Although not required, employed students in all cases are encouraged to also have a letter from their employer.

* If you need a travel signature on your I-20, contact the Office of International Education at Marquette at least two weeks prior to your departure. 

Missing travel documents?

Students with lost or missing passports should contact their embassy or cosulate for assistance. Students with lost F-1 visas must make an appointment with a U.S. embassy or consuate to get a replacement visa before reentering the U.S. Students who lost their signed I-20 or forgot to get a travel signature should email OIE to request a replacement/updated I-20 via email. In limited cases, US CBP may allow entry to students who can otherwise be denied entry (e.g. without their I-20, without a valid travel signature, have not paid the I-901 fee, with certain SEVIS status problems). The conditions of any I-515 entry must be resolved by the student within the 30 days.

 

At the End of Your STEM OPT

Your practical training is automatically terminated if you transfer to another school or begin studies at another educational level at Marquette.

If you decide to leave the United States before the authorized OPT ending date on your EAD and do not plan to return to the U.S., please contact a Marquette DSO with information about your date of departure.

After the ending date of your STEM OPT, you may remain in the U.S. for an additional 60 days. During this “grace period” you may transfer to another academic program, change to another visa status, or prepare to depart from the U.S. You may not be employed during this period.