Initial OPT (12-Month OPT Period) Mandatory Employment & Reporting RequirementsOPT Update Form Submit OPT Update Form to ISSS
While on OPT, you remain in F-1 status, and employment is required to maintain status. It is important to stress that any employment or change in employment must be reported. Failing to report employment can lead to an automatic termination of your status.
Employment Requirements – What Counts as Employment for OPT?
- You have 90 days of allowable unemployment (150 days for STEM Extension OPT).
- You need to work at least 20 hours per week.
- The following activities are considered employment:
- Paid employment
- Unpaid/volunteer employment
- Contract Hire (keep a list of the 1099’s and the duration of your employment)
- Self-employment (if you have the proper business licenses)
- Multiple jobs (as long as all jobs are in your field of study)
How to Report Employment and Other Updates
As part of your maintenance of F-1 status while on OPT, you are responsible for reporting any changes in personal and employment information to USCIS and to International Student & Scholar Services within 10 days of the change.
Reporting can be done through both of the following methods:
- Submitting the F-1 OPT Information Update Form to UA ISSS through our secure online portal. Upon receipt of such information, we will update your SEVIS record in order for you to maintain compliance to U.S. immigration regulations.
- Updating your SEVP Portal Account directly with USCIS and SEVP – You will receive an email from Department of Homeland Security with information about logging into your SEVP Portal once your OPT has been approved.
You must report the following information within 10 days:
- any change of address (either your U.S. address or your foreign, permanent address)
- any change of name
- any periods of unemployment while authorized for OPT
- employer information (name and address) upon obtaining a job and changing jobs
STEM OPT (24-Month Extension) Mandatory Reporting Requirements – Confirmations Every 6 Months & Annual I-983 EvaluationsOPT Update Form I-983 Training Plan/Evaluation Submit OPT Update Form or I-983 Training Plan to ISSS
Submit an F-1 OPT Information Update Form to our secure online portal for all changes, updates, and for both 6-month and annual verifications:
- For the duration of the 24-month STEM Extension period (through Cap-Gap Relief period if applicable), F-1 students must use the F-1 OPT Information Update Form to our secure online portal to report any changes to the following information to International Student & Scholar Services within 10 days of the change:
- Change of legal name
- Change of residential address
- Change of mailing address or e-mail address
- Change of employer name or employer address
- Loss, addition, or change of employment
- 6-Month Confirmation Reports: The student must re-verify employer and residential address information with International Services every 6 months, even if there is no change using the F-1 OPT Information Update Form.
- 12-Month and 24-Month Evaluations: The student must also complete and submit a self-evaluation using the I-983, signed by the employer and submitted to International Services at months 12 and 24 of the STEM Employment Period.
Travel on OPT
Travel after filing for OPT or while on OPT can be a challenge. The following chart will help you to know what documents to carry with you. See our Travel Page for more information on student travel.
|Documents||Before Completing Academic Program & Before OPT Approval||After Completing Academic Program but Before OPT or STEM OPT Approval||After Completing Program & After OPT or STEM OPT Approval|
|Valid F-1 Visa||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|OPT I-20 with a valid travel endorsement on page 2, signed within 6 months by an ISSS Advisor||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Evidence of continued enrollment (e.g. Transcripts or Enrollment Verification from Registrar)||Yes|
|Evidence of financial support – either through personal funds or salary listed on OPT employment letter.||Strongly Recommended||Strongly Recommended||Strongly Recommended|
|I-797 Notice of Action (i.e. I-765 Receipt Notice)||Yes|
|Job offer letter from employer OR current employment verification letter||Yes||Yes|
|EAD (Employment Authorization Document)||STEM OPT students whose original 12-Month EAD has expired should check with ISSS about travel.||Yes|
Insurance After Graduation
It is important that you maintain medical insurance coverage after you graduate, as medical expenses in the U.S. can be very costly.
Because you will no longer have your University of Alabama student insurance plan (December graduates’ plans end on December 31 and May graduates’ plans end on July 31), if you will not have insurance through your OPT or AT employer, you should consider purchasing an individual insurance plan through a company that insures international students in the U.S.
Some companies like InsuBuy , ISOA, iNext, International Student Insurance, International Student Protection, and Compass Student Insurance offer plans specifically for students while on post graduation training.
- F-1 students: While working under OPT, you may receive insurance through your employer; however, it is very common to have a gap in insurance coverage between the student plan’s end date and potential coverage through an employer.
- J-1 students: It is a regulatory requirement that you maintain insurance coverage for the duration of your stay.