Please visit the ISSSO website for information about OPT. This section contains answers to commonly-encountered UHS University OPT employment situations. Questions and answers in this section are in no particular topic order.
Q: I've received Form I-797, Notice of Action, confirming that the USCIS has received my EAD application. Can I work with this Notice of Action?
A: No. The initial period of OPT requires you to have obtained the Employment Authorization Card (EAD) in order to be eligible for work no earlier than the validity start date of the EAD. When completing or updating the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form with Human Resources, the Notice of Action will not be accepted as proof of employment eligibility.
Q: I've received Form I-797, Notice of Action, confirming that the USCIS has approved my EAD application. Can I work with this Notice of Action?
A: No. The initial period of OPT requires you to have obtained the Employment Authorization Card (EAD) in order to be eligible for work. When completing or updating the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form with Human Resources, the Notice of Action will not be accepted as proof of employment eligibility.
Q: When during my OPT period may I apply for H-1B?
A: Any time. The sooner the better so you increase the chances of obtaining H-1B approval by the expiration of the EAD.
Q: Can I travel abroad and return with my EAD, or do I need a valid F-1 visa?
A: An EAD is not a travel document. Re-entry into the U.S. during the OPT period requires the following items:
- A passport valid at least 6 months into the future;
- A valid F-1 visa sticker;
- A travel endorsement on page 3 of the I-20 which is valid at least 6 months from the date signed; and
- Stement from the employer confirming maintenance of OPT employment
International travel is not recommended for those F-1 alumni with expired visa stickers or who have yet to receive the EAD. Please schedule an appointment with an International Student Counselor in ISSSO should you wish to explore these risks further.
Q: I requested pre-completion OPT but I graduated before the end of the EAD? Do I lose the time I didn't use?
A: It depends. Pre-completion OPT stops when you graduate. You can then request post-completion OPT during your grace period to for the remaining time you did not use in pre-completion OPT. You may want to consider USCIS average processing times for USCIS to issue a post-completion EAD are 3 months. UHS University F-1 students in this situation are encouraged to schedule an appointment with an International Student Counselor in ISSSO to discuss their options.
Q: I have completed all of my graduate-degree requirements except for the thesis/dissertation. Do I have to finish the thesis/dissertation before I may apply for OPT?
A: No. F-1 students are eligible to apply for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the program end date. During this time, the student can continue to finish the thesis/dissertation. UHS University F-1 students who have applied for post completion OPT and then experience unexpected graduation delays should work closely with an International Student Counselor in ISSSO for proper guidance.
Q: Is the time after my graduation and before I receive the EAD counted toward unemployment?
A: No. The unemployment "clock" begins "ticking" as early as on the validity start date of the EAD.
Q: I'm in OPT and unemployed. I'm planning on going home for a couple of weeks and coming back. Does my time abroad count toward the 90-day unemployment limit?
A: It depends. If you are travelling internationally using paid vacation, sick leave, or for training/presentations; then the time spent abroad is considered as NOT counting towards the 90-day unemployment limit. This is because you are maintaining an employment relationship with the UHS University on these approved absences. Should you desire to travel internationally after severing your employment relationship with UHS University, this time would be considered as “unemployment” and every calendar day would accumulate towards your unemployment totals.