Employment / Unemployment during Post Completion Optional Practical Training
All students on Optional Practical Training should maintain evidence (for each position) of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the student's supervisor and a description of the work. If it is not clear from the job description that the work is related to your degree, it is recommended that you obtain a signed letter from your supervisor or the employers hiring official stating how the degree is related to the work performed.
Students must work at least 20 hours per week in a job that is related to the their degree program. Students may work for more than one employer, but each positon must be related to the student's field of study.
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this practice does not violate any labor laws. The work should be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. Students should be able to provide evidence, acquired from the employer, to verify at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
Students authorized for 17 month extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify Employer in a position directly related to the STEM degree. All employment during the 17 month extension must be paid employment. Volunteer experience does not count as employment for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status during this period. Multiple jobs are allowed so long as all employers are enrolled in E-Verify.
Students authorized for post-completion OPT may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment. For students who have been approved for an OPT extension based on the cap-gap provisions, the 90 day limit remains. For 17 month extension approvals, students are given an additional 30 days of allowable unemployment, up to 120 days. Each day (including weekends) during the authorized OPT that the student does not have qualifying employment (see above) counts as a day of unemployment. Time spent outside the U.S. during OPT counts as unemployment against the 90/120 day limits, unless the student is either employed during a period of leave authorized by the employer or traveling as part of the employment.