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Periods of Unemployment during OPT

  1. What are the limits on periods of unemployment?

    Students on post-completion OPT may have up to 90 days of unemployment.

    Students who have OPT extended due to the cap gap provisions continue to accrue unemployment time and are subject to the 90-day limitation on unemployment.

    Students who receive a 17-month STEM OPT extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment.  Hence students on a STEM extension OPT may have a total of upto 120 days of unemployment in their entire post-completion OPT period of 29 months.

  2. Do the limits on unemployment apply to any periods of unemployment prior to April 8, 2008?

    No, the limits on unemployment do not apply retroactively

  3. Do the limits apply to students who had post-completion OPT approved before April 8, 2008?

    For students who started post-completion OPT prior to April 8, 2008, unemployment time will accrue only for time spent unemployed after April 8, 2008. Time unemployed prior to April 8, 2008, will not be counted.

  4. What counts as time unemployed?

    Each day during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. The only exception is that periods of up to 10 days between the end of one job and the beginning of the next job will not be included in the calculation for time spent unemployed.

  5. How does travel outside U.S impact the period of unemployment?

    If the student whose approved period of OPT has started travels outside of the United States while unemployed, the time spent outside the United States will count as unemployment against the 90/120-day limits.

    If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment.

  6. What should I do to ensure that my status does not expire due to excessive unemployment time?

    You are encouraged to report changes in employment to the International Advisor as soon as possible.  (E-mail us at  SEVP recommends that students report changes within 10 business days of the change to avoid situations where a DHS official may determine the student is out of status.

    The following table suggests the best way to report employment or a change in employment:

    Situation Report 
    New Job

    1. Name of Employer
    2. Start date of employment
    3. Mailing address for the employer 

    Change to a new job


    1. Name of the previous employer
    2. End date of employment with the previous employer
    3. Name of Employer
    4. Start date of employment
    5. Mailing address for the employer 

    More than 10 days of unemployment  1. Indicate "Unemployed"
    2. Ending date of last job
    Self employed business owner (start)  1. Indiacate "Self employed business owner"
    2. Indicated date went into business 
    Self employed business owner (end) 1. Indiacate "Self employed business owner"
    2. Indicate date business closed or student no longer worked for the business full time
    Student decides to exit the United States and complete his or her F-1 status prior
    to the end date of OPT 
    1. Indicate “Completing OPT and exiting the United States”
    2. Date of exit 
  7. How should I report my employment or unemployment information to the Designated school Official or International Advisor?

    E-mail us your employment or unemployment information at or