Dos and don’t of being on Optional Practical Training (OPT) explained

OPT Explained

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a program that allows international students studying in the United States on an F-1 visa to work in the country for a limited period of time in order to gain practical experience related to their field of study. While on OPT, it’s important to understand the dos and don’ts to ensure compliance with the regulations set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Here are some key points to keep in mind:


  1. Do maintain your F-1 status: It’s crucial to maintain your F-1 student status while on OPT. This includes continuing to be enrolled in an eligible academic program, reporting any changes in your address or employment to your designated school official (DSO), and adhering to all other F-1 visa requirements.
  2. Do work in your field of study: OPT is designed to provide practical training related to your field of study. Make sure that the work you engage in during your OPT period is directly related to your major area of study.
  3. Do report your employment details: You are required to report your employment details to your DSO, including the name and address of your employer, the start and end dates of your employment, and any changes in employment. Failure to report changes within the specified timeframe can result in a violation of your status.
  4. Do maintain proper documentation: Keep copies of your Form I-20 with the OPT recommendation, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and any other relevant documents related to your OPT. These documents may be requested during future immigration processes or employment verification.
  5. Do be aware of the OPT timeline: Understand the specific dates and deadlines associated with your OPT, including the start and end dates of your authorized employment period. It’s important to avoid exceeding the allowed duration of OPT and to adhere to any additional regulations based on your specific circumstances.


  1. Don’t work without proper authorization: You are only allowed to work for employers who are registered with E-Verify, a system that confirms the eligibility of employees to work in the United States. Engaging in unauthorized employment can have severe consequences, including the termination of your OPT and potential immigration violations.
  2. Don’t exceed the unemployment limits: OPT regulations include limitations on the amount of time you can remain unemployed during the OPT period. Be aware of these limits and actively seek employment opportunities to avoid violating the rules.
  3. Don’t violate the terms of your OPT: Make sure to adhere to the conditions and limitations of your OPT as specified by the USCIS. Engaging in unauthorized activities, such as working in an unrelated field or engaging in volunteer work that is not directly related to your major area of study, can result in a violation of your status.
  4. Don’t overstay your authorized period: It’s crucial to leave the United States within the authorized period specified on your EAD. Overstaying your OPT authorization can have severe consequences, such as affecting your future immigration benefits or potentially triggering a bar on reentry to the United States.
  5. Don’t neglect communication with your DSO: Stay in touch with your designated school official and inform them of any changes or updates related to your OPT. Your DSO can provide guidance and support throughout your OPT period and ensure your compliance with the regulations.

It’s important to consult with your designated school official (DSO) and review the specific OPT guidelines provided by the USCIS to ensure that you have accurate and up-to-date information regarding your individual situation.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult qualified immigration lawyer for your specific immigration situation.

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