ALERT:

Currently Berkeley International Office recommends minimizing international travel due to the rapidly-changing nature of U.S. immigration policy. For important information regarding current U.S. immigration policy, Executive Orders, and travel advisories please see BIO's Immigration Policy Updates & FAQ webpage.

United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) announced on Friday, March 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after April 3, 2017. Read BIO's announcement on this change.

Traveling while on OPT or OPT STEM Extension

In general, an F-1 student on post-completion OPT may travel outside the U.S. temporarily and be readmitted to resume F-1 status and employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her EAD card. The student must not have exceeded the maximum OPT unemployment or OPT STEM Extension unemployment time.

WARNING: Re-entering the U.S. in a status other than F-1 (such as a tourist) will invalidate F-1 status and OPT authorization.

In order to re-enter the U.S., the student will need to present the following at the Port of Entry:

If OPT or OPT STEM Extension Application is pending

  • A valid passport with unexpired F-1 visa stamp
  • OPT or STEM OPT I-20 Form I-20, signed on the bottom of page 2 by an International Student Advisor at Berkeley International Office within the preceding 6 months
  • I-797c Notice of Action Receipt from USCIS
  • Employment Offer (recommended)

NOTE: If there are any problems with your application to USCIS and you are outside of the US, it may be difficut for you to respond. If you are outside the US and your application is rejected or denied, it may not be possible for you to return to begin or resume your OPT. If you choose to travel while your application is pending, be sure that you are monitoring your mail and USCIS Case Status online AND that you communicate with BIO about your travel plans.

If OPT or OPT STEM Extension is approved

  • A valid passport with unexpired F-1 visa stamp
  • Form I-20, signed on the bottom of page 2 by an International Student Advisor at Berkeley International Office within the preceding 6 months
  • Unexpired EAD Card
  • Proof of employment (or employment offer)

If You Are on OPT & Have a Pending or Approved H1-B or OPT Cap-Gap I-20

Please first check with your employer and the legal counsel processing your H1-B regarding travel plans. Berkeley International Office can only advise you an travel as an F-1, but we cannot advise on how your travel might impact a pending or future H1-B request. Students travelling using an OPT Cap-Gap I-20 should see the H1-B Cap Gap page for more information.

Getting an F-1 Visa Stamp on OPT

If a student's F-1 visa has expired and the student wishes to traveling outside of the U.S., a new F-1 visa must be obtained before re-entering the U.S. Students who need to apply for a new visa should consult Berkeley International Office prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks.