Use the tabs on the left to navigate through the important information related to your OPT authorization and reporting responsibilities.
Students who are utilizing their Post-Completion or STEM OPT Extension are required to submit an OPT Reporting eForm directly to our office through their WorldRams account.
All three pages of the reporting eForm must be completed and submitted in order for the report to be considered complete. You will receive an approval email as soon as your report has been processed by our office.
You can upload any documents that you have received from USCIS such as your receipt notice, approval notice, or EAD card directly to your OPT Reporting eForm in the “Submit Report” page. We have provided you with a list of documents we already have on file for you at the top of the “Submit Form” page. If one of the upload options is already on the list, this means you do not need to submit it again.
eForm Auto-Fill Structure
Our eForms are coded to auto-fill with the data we currently have on file for you. When you submit your OPT Reporting eForm, our office has to manually update your information in our system before the eForm will auto-fill with the new data. This means, if you reopen a page you’ve made changes to and just submitted, the old data will auto-fill and override the new data.
Please open the page you need to make changes to, make the necessary changes, and submit the page. Then, do not reopen the page so that your new information will “stick” in the eForm. Once we are able to process your report and you receive an approval email, you will know that data has been updated and it should show the new information automatically in your eForm the next time you submit it.
Please note: Depending on the time of academic year, it may take up to two business weeks for our office to process your request once our office receives your report.
If your CSU eID is still active, you can log into your WorldRams account by clicking the link below:
However, if it has been more than 12 months since you graduated from CSU it is likely that your eID has expired and we will need you to sign into your WorldRams account through the Limited Access Portal in the link below:
- Step 1: Get your PIN
- E-mail me my Limited Access PIN
- You will receive an email with your PIN – when you click the link below to access the form it will ask you for your University Identification Number. This is your CSU Student ID number that begins with an 8.
- Step 2: Log into the WorldRams Limited Access Portal
If you save or remember this PIN, you will only need to do this process once to access your WorldRams Portal and can use the same PIN to login to your account in the future.
During OPT, your F-1 status is contingent upon employment. You must be employed for at least 20 hours per week in order to meet your employment requirement.
Any employment needs to be related to your academic major.
STEM OPT students must be employed by a business enrolled in the e-Verify program.
While you are on your Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT extension, you are required to submit our OPT Reporting eForm at specific times. Failure to report is a violation of your immigration status and can result in the termination of your SEVIS record.
Post-Completion OPT Students
Report to ISSS within 10 days if/when:
- You change your address
- You change employment (when you get your first job, when you quit/lose your job, or when you change your job)
- You change your legal name
STEM OPT Students
Report to ISSS every 6 months to verify your:
- Legal name
- Employer name and address
- Status of current employment and include a self-evaluation (page 5 of the I-983) at 12 months and 24 months
Plus, report to ISSS within 10 days if/when:
- You change your address
- You change or terminate employment
- You make any material changes to your original I-983. A modified I-983 must be submitted with the new material changes, i.e. new EIN, compensation, learning objectives, job title, employer address, decrease in hours, etc..
- You change your legal name
You will use our OPT Reporting eForm to report in, to upload self-evaluations, and to upload any new or modified I-983 documents.
As a courtesy, STEM OPT students will receive an automatic reminder email two weeks before their six month report is due. This email is sent weekly until the required report is submitted. The OPT Reporting eForm will turn off the reminder until the next reporting period.
Switching Employers While on STEM OPT
There are a few steps to OPT reporting when you change employers while on STEM OPT. You will need to submit the following:
- Updated OPT Reporting eForm
- A Final Self-Evaluation (bottom portion of page 5 of the I-983 form) signed by your previous supervisor
- A new I-983 (pages 1-4) for your new employer
If your STEM OPT Extension application is still pending and you need to change employers, please submit the above requirements and email our office to let us know your STEM extension is still pending. We will submit the required updates to the Potomac Service Center on your behalf.
A few days into your OPT period, you will receive an email from. The email will allow you to create an SEVP Portal Account.
The SEVP Portal is an optional place to view your OPT reporting information. It’s a website managed by the U.S. government.
You are free to create an SEVP Portal account.
But our office requires that students do not submit any changes through the SEVP Portal.
OPT participants must report through our OPT Reporting eForm.
Why? We have found that the SEVP Portal is error-prone. It does not communicate with our international student record management software.
See the Frequently Asked Questions tab for more common issues and questions about the SEVP Portal and OPT reporting requirements.
You can travel outside of the United States while using your OPT benefit. ISSS recommends that you do not travel outside of the United States while your application is pending or if you do not have an employment letter or your EAD Card.
After your OPT has been approved and you have started working, you should take the following documents if you plan to travel outside of the United States:
- Your passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future)
- Your I-20 (endorsed with a travel signature)
- Travel signatures are valid for 6 months while on OPT
- Your unexpired F-1 visa
- If your previous visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa in order to return
- Your EAD card
- Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination
- Optional: A letter from your employer with the dates of your travel
Before you leave the U.S., you should check with ISSS to make sure your SEVIS record has been updated with your most recent OPT reporting information. We recommend getting a new I-20 from us that shows your OPT has been approved on the second page of your document, if you don’t have one already. Some students have had problems upon re-entry if they are carrying an I-20 that only shows the OPT recommendation.
Please be sure you have submitted your required OPT reports to ensure that your immigration record is as accurate as possible before you travel.
Please note: ISSS is closed around the Christmas holiday. If you will be traveling around this time, please request your I-20 at least 3 weeks before December 25th.
Post-Completion and STEM OPT General FAQs
What is the duration of each OPT authorization?
In general, you can see the validity dates of your OPT authorization on your EAD card.
Post-Completion OPT is granted for up to 12 months at a time.
The STEM OPT extension is granted for up to 24 months. This period begins on the day after the expiration of the initial Post-Completion OPT employment authorization and expires 24 months after, regardless of the date the actual extension is approved.
A student who has applied for a STEM extension can continue working for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the prior Post-Completion OPT EAD while the STEM Extension is pending.
Note: Employment must conform to STEM conditions during this interim extension period, including the requirement that the student work only for an e-Verify employer.
My employer has applied for an H-1B visa on my behalf - What happens next?
Please note, our office is unable to provide advice about your H-1B application. Rather, we can only speak to your F-1 immigration record and how it interacts with the H-1B application process.
What Does This Mean For My Immigration Record?
Please upload a copy of your H-1B application’s receipt, approval, or denial notice to your next OPT Reporting eForm.
- Please Note: A receipt notice does not mean that your H-1B application has been approved, rather it is a notice to let you know that they have received your application materials.
If your H-1B visa application is approved, please be sure to submit a copy of your approval notice to our office so that we can provide you with the next steps for completing your F-1 immigration record. Emails are sent to all students currently on OPT providing specific instructions throughout the application process, typically between April 1st – October 1st of each year.
You must continue to maintain your F-1 immigration record until your H-1B status start date. This includes submitting any necessary OPT reports, providing STEM OPT evaluations, maintaining employment, etc.
The ISSS team is unable to provide any advising regarding your H-1B application and visa. Please direct any questions you might have to the attorney or person who helped you file your application.
Am I Eligible for the Cap-Gap Extension?
If your H-1B application was picked in the application lottery and your OPT authorization will expire before October 1st, you are likely eligible for a cap-gap extension. This extension allows you to continue working while your H-1B application is being reviewed by USCIS.
ISSS can print an updated I-20 to reflect the Cap-Gap Extension upon request. You will need to supply us with a copy of your application’s receipt notice. The new I-20 will reflect that your F-1 status and employment eligibility have automatically been extended through 09/30/202x.
A cap-gap I-20 may be required if you are applying for a benefit such as a driver’s license.
Note: You are required to continue submitting an OPT Reporting Form to ISSS every 3 months, or within 10 days of any changes, throughout your cap-gap extension.
I'm locked out of the SEVP Portal. What do I do?
If you need your password reset, please use the SEVP Portal’s “Forgot Password” link and follow the prompts.
If you are unable to access the SEVP Portal due to it being locked, please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to reset the Portal for you. This option is not always available in your record, so our office may not be able to unlock it for you.
Please review the information provided under the “SEVP Portal and OPT Reporting” tab above to learn more about the SEVP Portal and your OPT Reporting requirements.
I'm on STEM OPT and received an SEVP Portal email about 'data validation...'?
OPT participants must report any updates in their situation within 10 days.
But STEM OPT participants must also report to their schools every 6 months, even with no changes. It’s called the ‘STEM OPT data validation report.’
SEVP sends a reminder email about this report 30 days before it is due.
We email our STEM OPT participants 2 weeks before it is due.
Do not report via the SEVP Portal. As always, you report through our OPT Reporting eForm.
Timing: You can submit your OPT report for this 6-month check-in anytime within the 30 days before your deadline. Our office will process your report and update your SEVIS record.
Until we process the OPT report, though, SEVP will keep emailing you. No need to worry. As long as you submitted all 3 pages of your OPT report to us by the deadline, you did what you’re supposed to do.
If you are approaching the 12- or 24-month mark of your STEM OPT authorization, you must also upload your STEM OPT Evaluation to the eForm. Your supervisor will need to sign off on this evaluation.
The STEM OPT evaluations are on page 5 of the I-983 here: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/i983.pdf
The 12-month evaluation is the “Evaluation on Student Progress” and is the top half of page 5.
The 24-month evaluation is the “Final Evaluation on Student Progress” and is the bottom half of page 5.
I received my EAD card in the mail. Do you need it?
Yes, please upload a copy of your EAD card to your next OPT Reporting eForm, or email it to our office.
Am I eligible for the STEM OPT Extension?
Students who have earned a degree in a program of study in certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics majors are eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT. Consult the STEM list to determine if you are eligible.
You can apply for the STEM extension up to 90 days before the expiration date of your post-completion OPT. Our office will send you an email once you enter your STEM OPT extension application window.
Your application for the STEM extension must be received by USCIS before your Post-Completion OPT expires.
As long as your 24-month STEM extension application is received by USCIS prior the expiration date of your Post-Completion OPT, you can continue working for up to 180 days while your STEM extension application is pending.
Please Note: You may not be permitted to renew your driver’s license while your OPT STEM extension is pending, so consider applying as early as possible if your license will expire when your OPT expires.
What types of employment are allowed while on OPT?
Any employment you engage in while on OPT must be directly related to your major of study. Employment that is not directly related to the major area of study would be considered a status violation. It is your responsibility to ensure that any employment you engage in while on OPT meets this requirement and is reported to our office. Any unreported employment would also be considered violation of your F-1 status.
Most types of employment are allowed for OPT, including:
- Regular paid employment.
- Payment by multiple short-term employers.
- Work for hire (a service based on a contractual relationship).
- Self-employed business owner.
- Employment through an agency.
- Volunteers or unpaid interns (REMEMBER THIS OPTION!)
- Unpaid employment is considered employment on OPT, as long as the unpaid employment is directly related to the academic major listed on the student’s I-20 and employment is for at least 20 hours per week. However, please keep in mind that volunteering to do work that other individuals normally get paid to do may be a violation of labor laws. If in doubt, please consult an ISSS advisor.
STEM OPT EXTENSION
It’s a paid position (at least minimum wage, which varies by state)
- Students on their STEM OPT authorization cannot use volunteer or unpaid internships as their STEM OPT employment.
- Your employer must be enrolled in eVerify
You are working at least 20 hours per week
Multiple employers are allowed, but each one must be 20 hours per week and you must have an I-983 on file with ISSS for each employer.
You are working in a bona fide employer-employee relationship
Self-employment is not allowed
What are my employer's responsibilities?
Employers do not need to be involved in the OPT Reporting process during your Post-Completion authorization. However, if you are eligible for the STEM OPT Extension and plan to apply, you will want to make sure your employer is a participant in the eVerify program or is willing to become a participant before you need to apply for your Extension.
STEM OPT EXTENSION
- Your employer must be enrolled and in good standing with E-Verify
- Your employer must work with you to complete and certify Section 3 of the Form I-983 before you apply for the OPT STEM extension
- Your employer must review and sign your 12-month self-evaluation and your final evaluation before you submit them to ISSS
- Your employer must work with you to report any material changes to your formal training plan by submitting a new Form I-983 to ISSS
- If you lose your job, your employer must report the loss of employment to ISSS within 10 days
- Your employer must provide you with a training opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers in duties, hours, and compensation. Please encourage your employer to view the employer section of the Study in the States OPT STEM Hub.
What happens if I can't find employment? Is there a limit on how long I can be unemployed?
CSU provides a list of employers who have previously hired CSU international student alumni. We recommend you review this list for any potential employers.
Additionally, the CSU Career Center is an excellent place to start when trying to find employment. They provide helpful resources and one-on-one consultations in person, on the phone, through Skype, or by email! These consultations may include resume and cover letter critique, job search strategies, career assessments, mock interviews, mock salary negotiation, and so much more!
We recommend you begin searching for an employer even before your OPT is approved since finding employment and the interview process can take several months.
Unemployment Allowances and Ramifications
OPT authorization begins on the employment start date shown on your EAD card. Students may not be unemployed for more than the following allowances:
- Post-Completion OPT: 90 Days
- STEM Extension OPT: 60 Days
- Any days of unemployment remaining from Post-Completion OPT can be used during a student’s STEM Extension OPT authorization for a total of 150 days of unemployment.
Failure to report or gain employment will result in the termination of your immigration record by DHS which will require that you depart the United States immediately. Termination of your record does not come with a grace period.
If you choose not to use your OPT authorization and have returned home, please complete a Departure eForm and mention in the notes that you no longer plan to use your OPT.
Note: During periods of unemployment, weekends do count toward the 90 or 60 day unemployment limit. Weekends are not counted toward the 90 or 60 day unemployment limit for students who are employed throughout the week.
OPT Reporting FAQs
How often do I need to submit an OPT Reporting eForm?
You must submit an OPT Reporting eForm to ISSS within 10 days of any changes to your employer, address (mailing or email), or name.
If you are on STEM OPT, you must also submit an OPT Reporting eForm every six months to verify your name, address, employer name and address, and current status of employment. At 12 and 24 months, a self-evaluation must be included with your OPT Reporting eForm.
Please review the information provided on the OPT Reporting webpage regarding your OPT Reporting requirements.
What is an EIN?
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is used to identify businesses for tax purposes. It is a 9-digit number in the format 00-0000000. ISSS is required to include your employer’s EIN when we report your employment in the SEVIS system. Your employer will need to provide you with the number.