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90/150 Day Unemployment Rules

Base on the Interim final Rule published April 8, 2008 and the Final Rule Published March 11, 2016 with defective date of May 10, 2016, F-1 student has 90 days aggregated (total) maximum allowed period of unemployment while on the 12-month post-completion OPT and additional 60 days allowed for STEM OPT Extension.

Does the rule mean I have to find a job within the first three months of my OPT or go home?

You must be gainfully employed by the 90th day after the start date listed on your EAD Card. The total number of days allowed for unemployment while on post-completion OPT is a maximum of 90 days.
I am applying/on a STEM OPT Extension (OPTX). How many total days of unemployment am I allowed?
Students who receive a 24-month STEM OPT Extension are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days over their entire post-completion OPT period.
I am qualified for an H-1B Cap Gap Extension. How many total days of unemployment am I allowed?
Students who qualify for an H-1B Cap Gap Extension of employment authorization remain subject to the 90/150 days maximum of unemployment for the entire duration of OPT.
What are the possible consequences if I remain unemployed for more than 90/150 days?
           
A student who has exceeded the period of unemployment while on post-completion OPT/STEM OPT Extension has violated her/his status unless he/she has taken one of the following actions:
  • Applied to continue her/his education by a change of degree level or transferring to another university
  • Departed the United States
  • Taken action otherwise to maintain legal status

According to the SEVP Policy Guidance 0801-01, “Students may be denied future immigration benefits that rely on the student’s valid F-1 status if DHS determines that the student exceeded the limitations on employment.” Other possible consequences include DHS terminating the student’s F-1 record if it reflects more than 90 days unemployment.


Federal documents discussing periods of unemployment while on OPT:

Federal Register, April 8, 2008. 
214 eCFR
SEVP Policy Guidance
p. 13-19
USCIS FAQ