Travel and Re-entry to the U.S. While on OPT


Berkeley International Office (BIO) currently 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.

Traveling while on OPT or OPT STEM Extension

In general, an F-1 student on post-completion OPT may travel outside the United States 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 United States in a status other than F-1 (such as a tourist) will invalidate F-1 status and OPT authorization.

DocumentsBefore Completing Academic Program & Before OPT EAD Approval*After Completing Academic Program & Before OPT or STEM EAD Approval*After Completing Program & After  OPT or STEM EAD Approval
Valid passport
Valid F-1 visa stamp (if applicable)
OPT I-20 with a valid travel endorsement signed within 6 months by a BIO Advisor (page 3)
Evidence of continued enrollment (e.g. Enrollment Verification from Cal Central)
Evidence of financial support strongly recommended strongly recommended strongly recommended
OPT receipt: I-797 Notice of Action
Job offer letter from employer OR current employment verification letter strongly recommended
EAD (Employment Authorization Document) STEM OPT students whose original 12-Month EAD has expired should check with BIO about travel. 

* NOTE: If there are any problems with your application to USCIS and you are outside of the United States, it may be difficult for you to respond. If you are outside the United States and your application is rejected or denied, it may not be possible for you to return to begin or resume your OPT/STEM 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.

Getting an F-1 Visa Stamp During OPT/STEM 

If a student's F-1 visa has expired and the student wishes to travel outside the United States, a new F-1 visa must be obtained before re-entering the United States. Students who need to apply for a new visa should consult BIO prior to travel to discuss the visa application process and possible risks. General Visa information can be found on the Applying for a Visa webpage.

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 H-1B about your 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 H-1B request. Students travelling using an OPT Cap-Gap I-20 should see the H1-B Cap Gap page for more information.