Maintenance of Status after USCIS Issues EAD
Maintenance of status is the responsibility of the F-1 student visa holder at all times while inside the U.S. The information below provides a reminder of some of the requirements to maintain status, but is not intended to cover every scenario. If you have a question about maintenance of status, it is your responsibility to seek out guidance from International Services or a qualified immigration attorney.
Per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A), F-1 student visa holders may not begin Optional Practical Training (paid, unpaid, or voluntary employment) until the start date indicated on his or her employment authorization document (EAD) and until the EAD has been received by the student. Again, you cannot begin any kind of volunteering, paid employment, or unpaid employment before receiving your OPT EAD card, nor prior to the start date listed on your OPT EAD card. F-1 student visa holders in violation of 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(ii)(A) are in violation of status and subject to termination of the SEVIS record. Additionally, under a new proposed policy effective August 2018, F-1 student holders in violation of status begin to accrue unlawful presence from the date of the violation irrespective of government or sponsor notice. If you begin working before receiving your EAD card or before the start date listed on your EAD card, your F1 SEVIS record will be terminated for unauthorized employment and you will begin accruing unlawful presence. You would then be ineligible to continue working on OPT and you would be expected to depart the U.S. immediately. Unauthorized employment also jeopardizes your eligibility for future employment benefits such as the 24-Month Stem Extension and the H-1B visa.
Once you have obtained your EAD card and you are in your authorized period of OPT employment, you are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week in a position related to your field of study. You have up to 90 days of unemployment starting on the approved OPT start date listed on your EAD card. If you reach the 90-day unemployment limit, you should make plans to either depart the U.S. or seek alternatives if you wish to remain inside the U.S. You are expected to report employment and changes to your information within 10 days of any change.
Immigration Reporting Requirements for Maintaining Status
Post-Completion OPT Employment Update (required)
While on OPT, part of maintaining your status is to report any changes to your contact and employment information to International Services within 10 days of the change. To report your information, please log into your iStart Student portal and complete the OPT employment update e-form listed under the “F-1 Practical Training” tab.
*Reminder, students are not eligible to begin work until they have received an Employment Authorization document verifying work eligibility and must wait until the EAD approved start date to begin paid, unpaid, or volunteer work opportunities. Failure to follow this federal regulation is considered a violation of status and will result in termination of your F-1 record.
SEVP Portal (optional)
The Department of Homeland Security created a method for students to review and report their contact and employment information through the SEVP Portal. Reporting your information through the SEVP Portal is optional. You will still be required to report any changes to the International Services office even if you are to make updates to your record through the SEVP Portal. If you are locked out of your SEVP portal account, please complete the SEVP Portal Reset Request within your iStart Student Portal account.
Once your OPT application is processed by USCIS, you will receive an automatic email instructing you how to access your SEVP Portal. For more information about this reporting method, please review our SEVP Portal FAQ page. You can also find more information on the Study in the States website. You may also call the SEVP Response Center at 703-603-3400 if you have any questions about the portal or need assistance.
Pursuing Another Degree While on OPT
You cannot be a full-time student while also working on OPT. If you wish to seek a degree full-time at a U.S. institution rather than continue your employment on OPT, you will need to update your immigration record to reflect the new degree program. For more information about transferring your SEVIS record to a new institution during your OPT period, please refer to the section below entitled “Transferring Out Your SEVIS Record.” If you intend to return to Clemson University to pursue your degree, please contact our office for more information.
Traveling on OPT
Prior to traveling internationally while on OPT, our office encourages you to review the “Travel and Visas” guidance listed under the “For Students” section of our website.
It is important that your current employer information is listed on page 2 of your I-20 when you travel outside of the U.S., please make sure to complete and submit a Post-Completion OPT Employment Update e-form within your iStart Student Portal well in advance of your trip to account for the processing and shipment of the new form.
After reviewing the travel guidance information, please contact our office with any questions you might have regarding travel prior to departing the U.S. during your OPT period.