Traveling outside the U.S.
While your application for OPT is pending
Although the regulations allow you to travel outside of the US and re-enter the country to search for employment with a pending OPT, you must be certain that you will return before your EAD card is issued or you will forfeit your OPT. This is very risky because you do not know when your OPT will be approved. Therefore, you are advised not to leave the US while your OPT is pending.
After your OPT has been approved but before you have a job offer
Whether you have received your EAD card or not, do not leave the country. If your OPT has been approved and you depart the US before getting a job, your OPT ends and you cannot re-enter unless you have a written job offer.
After your OPT has been approved and you have a job offer
Whether you have received your EAD card or not, you may travel outside of the US. You should be prepared to present:
- A valid SEVIS I-20 endorsed by a DSO within 6 months
- A valid F-1 entry visa
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months into the future
- A valid EAD card or I-797 Receipt Notice
- An offer letter on company letterhead indicating that you are/will be employed, including specific dates of employment
If my visa is expired
You may travel outside of the US, but you will need to visit a US consulate abroad to apply for a new F-1 visa before returning.
Note: Some consular posts may not grant a new student visa in this situation.
Material on this Web site is general and for informational purposes only. It does not constitute or replace professional legal advice, and you should not rely on it solely when making decisions about your immigration status or reporting requirements.