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Procedures for Reporting
OPT Location/Employer

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 Information

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 tab
 

3.  Click on Address and Phone Number

               


4.  Click on OPT Location/Employer Address, then
     follow the instructions on the web pages.






Reporting Requirements 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.

Reporting Self-Employment

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 address fields.

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.

Interruptions in OPT Activity/Employment

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 OPT.
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.

 

 

ISSO
Boston University
February 28, 2005

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office