International Student Services

OPT Reporting

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an important opportunity for many F-1 students. To maintain F-1 status during OPT you must comply with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employment and reporting requirements. The UT Dallas ISSO provides the following information to assist you in meeting those requirements.

The Department of Homeland Security requires students to report to their schools all periods of employment and unemployment while authorized for OPT. This is in addition to the ongoing F-1 requirement of supplying changes of address.

Updates must be reported within 10 days of the start of your OPT work authorization and within 10 days of any subsequent change.

Reports You Must Make to Homeland Security

All F-1 Students on OPT – Within 10 days of the start of your period of OPT work authorization and within 10 days of any subsequent change, you are required to report the above, plus the following:

  • Current U.S. address
  • Change of your official name
  • Start or end of employment
  • Change of your employer’s address
  • Change of your employer’s name

All Students with an OPT STEM Extension – You are required to report all the above, plus the following:

  • Employment status, 6 months after your extension start date, even if your information has not changed.
  • Employment status, 12 months after your extension start date, even if your information has not changed.

Updates to the following information will result in ISSO issuing an updated I-20:

  • Change of your official name
  • Start or end of employment
  • Change of your employer’s address
  • Change of your employer’s name

ISSO will email you when the I-20 is ready to collect. Please make arrangements to collect, or have your I-20 mailed to you within 30 days. After 30 days, your I-20 will be destroyed, and cannot be reproduced.

How to Report

To report a change of address or employment complete an ISSO OPT Reporting Form and submit it via email, fax or in person to the UT Dallas ISSO. The ISSO will report your changes to Homeland Security.

Collect your Updated I-20

Updates to the following information will result in ISSO issuing an updated I-20:

  • Change of your official name
  • Start or end of employment
  • Change of your employer’s address
  • Change of your employer’s name

ISSO will email you when the I-20 is ready to collect. Please make arrangements to collect, or have your I-20 mailed to you within 30 days. After 30 days, your I-20 will be destroyed, and cannot be reproduced.

Maintaining Your Immigration Status While on Optional Practical Training

While you are pursuing your degree, you maintain your F-1 immigration status by pursuing a full course of study . However, while you are on OPT, you maintain your F-1 status by seeking and maintaining appropriate employment.

Employment

You may not lawfully begin employment, or pre-employment training, until you receive your EAD and the start date has arrived.

If you work during a gap between previous work authorization (for example, CPT authorization, or on-campus work authorization) and the start of your OPT authorization, you violate your F-1 status.

Acceptable Employment

DHS has ruled that acceptable employment during OPT can include standard employment, contract employment, self-employment and volunteer positions. All employment must be appropriate to your degree and average at least 20 hours per week. Please refer to the following chart for more details.

Type of Employment Instructions
Single Employer Provide the employment dates and your employer’s name and address.
None – Actively Seeking Employment If you have been unemployed for more than 10 days since your OPT start date, indicate those dates. To remain in the U.S., you must be actively looking for relevant employment. In order to maintain your visa status, you must limit unemployment while on OPT to a total of 90 days or 120 days if you have been approved for the 17-month OPT extension.
Work for Hire (contract employment) Provide the employment dates and your employer’s name and address. If requested by DHS, you must be able to provide evidence that you worked an average of at least 20 hours per week.
Unpaid Volunteer or Intern Provide the employment dates and your employer’s name and address. If requested by DHS, you must be able to provide evidence that you worked an average of at least 20 hours per week and that the work was related to your OPT degree. This option is not available to students in the 17-month OPT extension period.
Self-Employed U.S. Business Owner List your company’s name or print “Self-Employed” and the business address. This location may be the same as your personal address, if appropriate. If requested by DHS, you must be able to provide evidence that you have proper business licenses, the business is related to your degree and that the business keeps you full-time employed.

Unemployment Limits

Students in Initial OPT Period – Maximum of 90 calendar days allowed during the 12-month OPT period.

Students With an OPT STEM Extension – An additional 30 days applies, for a maximum of 120 calendar days allowed during the 27-month OPT period.

NOTE: The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has issued contradictory information regarding whether unemployment periods of less than 10 days count, or do not count, towards the 90 day unemployment deadline. However, it is crucial that you report all periods of employment to avoid unnecessary accrual of unemployment days.