A student in F-1 status is eligible for up to 12 months of practical training employment in the student's field of study. This permission must be recommended by the student's international student adviser at the school where the student was enrolled and must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before the student can be employed. Applications for OPT should be RECEIVED by USCIS PRIOR to a student's completion of studies date.
Changes in Your Work or Employer
As of April 8, 2008, OPT may be extended by 17 months for certain students who are in a valid period of post-completion OPT, who have graduated from U.S. schools with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and for which that degree is the basis for the student’s current period of OPT. In order to determine eligibility, contact the international student adviser at the school where you were enrolled PRIOR to your "completion of studies" date.
Remember that in some parts of the U.S., it may take many months to get such permission renewed by USCIS so you should plan to apply as early as possible.
[Please note, travel outside the U.S. before you receive your EAD and/or begin your employment is not recommended, as re-entry under these circumstances is at the discretion of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer at the border.] Whenever, you travel outside the U.S., you should always carry the following documents for presentation at a U.S. Consulate abroad and/or to the CBP officers when re-entering the U.S.:
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on their website titled: “FAQ for F-Non-immigrants: Entry and Exit.” The website can be found at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/faq.htm. Information on travel while on OPT is part of this FAQ.
For F-2 visa and/or re-entry to the U.S. for a dependent, your spouse, or any of your children under the age of 21, will need to provide the same as above, plus the following are recommended:
WARNING: Due to heightened security, visa approvals abroad are taking from 1 to 3 months and longer as new security checks are conducted for all applicants worldwide. All documentation submitted to a consular or immigration officer is receiving greater scrutiny, so please review and know the contents of all of your documents before presenting them to the U.S. official.
Travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands (Automatic Revalidation):