OPT Unemployment Allowances

How much time is allowed for unemployment?

  • Students on post-completion OPT may not accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment or you will be out of valid F-1 status. 
  • Students who receive a STEM extension are given an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days of unemployment over their entire post-completion OPT period. 
  • Students who have OPT extended due to the H-1B cap gap provisions continue to accrue unemployment time and are subject to the 90-day limitation on unemployment. 

What counts as time unemployed? 

  • During the period of OPT authorization, each day that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as one day of unemployment.
  • Qualifying employment must be at least 20 hours per week or more.

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

  • If a student travels outside of the United States while unemployed during the approved period of OPT, the time spent outside the United States will count as unemployment against the 90/150-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. 

What happens if the student exceeds the period of unemployment? 

A student who has exceeded the period of unemployment while on post-completion OPT has violated his or her status unless he or she has taken one of the following actions:

  • Requested a change of level or transfer from Berkeley International Office
    (prior to the 90/150-day limit) 
  • Departed the U.S. and has noted the exit date on the OPT employer reporting web site 
  • Taken action to otherwise maintain legal status (such as apply for a change of status)