The U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) now requires all students in F-1 status who have
been granted Optional Practical Training employment authorization
to report the location of the OPT experience, including name and
address of their OPT employer or organization. The ISSO is
required to report this information to DHS through the Student and
Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Students must begin
reporting this information by the start date of their OPT and report
changes or interruptions in employment (within 10 days) during of
all periods of post-completion of OPT. If your OPT begins
and you have not secured an OPT location/employer, then you still
must report information to DHS through the ISSO.
It is your obligation to report this information. If
you fail to report OPT activity/employment information to the ISSO,
you could be considered in violation of your F-1 immigration status
by the Department of Homeland Security.
Types of Post-completion OPT Activities
that must be Reported
All OPT employment must
be directly related to the student's major field of study.
Guidance from DHS indicates that they recognize paid and unpaid
practical training experiences provided they are performed for at
least 20 hours per week. Click
here to read about specific examples.
Procedures for Reporting OPT Location/Employer
The ISSO has developed the
following procedure for you to report your OPT location/employer:
1. Log on to the
Student Link (www.bu.edu/studentlink)
2. Click on the Personal
3. Click on Address
and Phone Number
4. Click on OPT Location/Employer Address,
follow the instructions on the web pages.
while searching for OPT Employment/Activity
If your post-completion
OPT has been approved, but you have not yet found OPT employment
or any other appropriate OPT experience, it is recommended that
you report "Actively seeking employment" using the reporting
procedure described above.
Reporting Multiple Employers
If you engage in OPT at more
than one location/employer, use the procedure above to report the
name and address of your primary location/employer. It is
critical that you maintain substantial documentation detailing the
specifics of each employer and dates of employment for your own
records. This is important because you could be required to
provide this documentation to prove maintenance of status or to
prove eligibility for immigration benefits in the future.
If your valid practical
training experience is a self-owned business or organization, use
the reporting procedures described above; choose "Currently
employed..." and enter the name of your business/organization
or "Self-Employed" in the "OPT Location/Employer
Name" field. Enter the address of your business in the
Reporting Periodic Employment or "Gigs"
If you are a performer
whose employment consists of short-term multiple employers (periodic
"gigs"), or if your OPT activity otherwise consists of
periodic employment with multiple employers, use the reporting procedures
described above; choose "Currently employed..." and enter
"Multiple short-term employers" or "Multiple short-term
gigs" in the "OPT Location/Employer Name" field.
It is critical that you maintain substantial documentation detailing
the specifics of each employer and dates of employment for your
own records. This is important because you could be required
to provide this documentation to prove maintenance of status or
to prove eligibility for immigration benefits in the future.
DHS regulations require you
to report that you have stopped your OPT activity/employment if
there is an interruption in your practical training. Therefore,
if you end a practical training experience for any reason during
your approved period of OPT, use the reporting system described
below and choose “Interruption in Employment.”
How do students
show that employment is directly related to their degree program?
SEVP recommends that students maintain evidence — for each job —
of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the
job title, contact information for the student's supervisor or manager,
and a description of the work. If it is not clear from the
job description that the work is related to the student's degree,
SEVP highly recommends that the student obtain a signed letter from
the employer's hiring official, supervisor, or manager stating how
the student's degree is related to the work performed.
Periods of unemployment or non-activity during post-completion
Students on post-completion OPT may have up to 90 days of unemployment
or non-activity. Students who have OPT extended due to the
cap gap provisions continue to accrue unemployment time and are
subject to the 90-day limitation on unemployment. Students
who receive a 17-month STEM OPT extension are given an additional
30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over their entire
post-completion OPT period.
How DHS will count periods of unemployment or non-activity.
Each day during the period of approved OPT when the student is not
employed or actively participating in a valid practical training
experience counts as a day of unemployment. Guidance from DHS indicates
that they may not count up to 10 days between the end of one job
and the beginning of the next job.
What is the effect on a student’s status if the student
exceeds the period of unemployment or non-activity?
A student who has exceeded the period of unemployment while on post-completion
OPT has violated his or her status unless he or she has taken one
of the following actions:
- Applied to continue his or her education by a change of level
or transferring to another SEVP-certified school
- Departed the United States
- Taken action to otherwise maintain legal status
Students are encouraged to contact
the staff of the ISSO with questions relating to OPT
activity and reporting requirements.