Traveling abroad While “Travel On Opt Risk”

This information is for F-1 students who travel after graduation or while on Travel On OPT risk. You should be aware that official policy and federal regulations may not always correspond in practice. This discussion can help you plan your travel.

Federal Regulations

An F-1 student with an unexpired EAD issued post-completion for practical training may be allowed to return to the United States to start employment again after a temporary absence. The EAD must be used together with an I-20 that has been approved by the DSO for reentry within the last six month.

You should be able return to the U.S. if you have all the necessary documents

  • Valid EAD (OPT) card
  • Valid passport
  • valid F-1 visa
  • I-20 with a Travel On Opt Risk signature that was signed within the past six months
  • Not required, but highly recommended: Letter from the employer or employer requesting a job offer.
  • You have met the requirements for F-1 status immigration admission (i.e. you have the required documents – passport and F-1 visa I-20 and EAD.
  • You have not been outside the U.S. more than five months
  • You’re returning to resume employment

Important: Students with Travel On OPT Risk Extension applications should wait until their request has been approved and they have received the updated Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Before traveling abroad,

Travel On Opt Risk Advice

Federal regulation stated that F-1 students with an unexpired EAD for post-completion training can return to the United States to resume their employment after a temporary absence.

Based on previous experience, conversations with advisors from other universities and a meeting at CBP (Immigration), officials seem to be somewhat lenient regarding students on OPT. One person I know of had a student denied entry to the U.S. for not having a job offer. The immigration officers have some discretionary power and it appears that students who meet the requirements for admission (I-20, recent Travel On Opt Risk signature, valid passport, and valid F-1 visa), have no problem reentering America, even if they don’t have a job (assuming they haven’t exceeded 90 days of unemployment or their OPT has not begun yet).

Travel On Opt Risk Summary

Travel On OPT Risk allows you to travel abroad with a valid passport, valid F-1 visa and valid EAD. You also need an I-20 with a current travel signature and you plan on returning to work. You should have proof that you are employed or actively looking for employment (e.g., a job offer letter, an invitation to interview, or career fair).


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