F-1 Students Travel During OPT or H-1B Process

Update 1- Feb 8, 2021

Can students on OPT CPT work remotely during the COVID times. ICE says yes.  See from page 12 on of this FAQ released by the govt.
https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf

Update 2 - Feb 8, 2021

How to account for the excepted days off and employer close downs.
https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/2016/12/opt-students-what-do-if-your-employer-closes-during-holidays

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F-1 Visa Holder Travel Abroad (OPT/H-1B)

Post completion OPT (First Year)

  OPT applied and pending
      You can travel, but NOT recommended
           What if There is an RFE?
            What if the OPT is denied?
               You will not be able to enter the USA on F-1 if your OPT is denied.
 
  OPT approved
        You CAN travel if:
            You have a valid passport and F-1 visa
              Proof of employment/training
              I-20 endorsed for travel
               Note that the time outside during OPT is counted towards your maximum permitted days of unemployment

STEM OPT

   STEM OPT applied and first year OPT is still valid
       You can travel if:
           You have a valid passport and F-1 visa
             Proof of STEM employment/training
             Proof that you worked during the first year OPT
             I-20 endorsed for travel

   STEM OPT applied and first year OPT expired
         Do NOT travel until STEM OPT is approved
  
   STEM OPT approved
         You can travel if:
             You have a valid passport and F-1 visa
               Proof of STEM employment/training
               Proof that you worked during the first year OPT
               I-20 endorsed for travel
                Note that the time outside during OPT is counted towards your maximum permitted days of unemployment
 

H-1B application process

   Travel before lottery is filed
         You can travel. Make sure you meet the requirements of OPT or STEM OPT travel

    Travel after lottery is filed or selected, but before H-1B petition is filed
         You can travel. Make sure you meet the requirements of OPT or STEM OPT travel. Be back in the USA when the H-1B petition is filed.
    

     Travel while H-1B petition is pending
          NOT recommended. It creates problems.
             What problems?
1. You may not be able to return until H-1B is approved and you get an H-1B visa.
2. If you are able to return, your cap gap may have terminated.

3.  you will have to get an H-1B visa OR apply again for change of status, which exposes you to RFE's just like the original filing.

     
     Travel after H-1B petition is approved
            If you travel before your H-1B start date
                      You may have to wait outside the USA. Get an H-1B visa stamp. Enter USA no earlier than 10 days before your H-1B start date.
              If you travel after your H-1B start date
                      You will need to obtain an H-1B visa stamp at the consulate

 

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Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Kazi Sharif (not verified) on Sat, 03/05/2022 - 04:26 Permalink

Hi I have some questions regarding travelling. I am in first opt which ends on last of September 2022, my f1 visa will expired on the end of the june 2022 and my first year erd validation is till the end of September 2022. Currently I have an employer with intership fulltime. My plan is to visit my country Bangladesh in the middle of july for some family reason . I have valid passport , erd and letter of employment, and I20 for the first year.

My concern question : Shall I have to renew visa before I return to usa ? What are the documents shall I need more for apply the visa ? Shall I have to travel with stem opt ? I don’t apply for h1 b visa this year . Please help me out so that I can take a prefect decision regarding the travelling.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Srisha (not verified) on Fri, 03/11/2022 - 13:52 Permalink

Could you elaborate a bit more regarding the Note under "STEM OPT" - [Note that the time outside during OPT is counted towards your maximum permitted days of unemployment] Does this mean days spent outside the US while on STEM OPT is attributed to unemployment days (even you are technically employed)?

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Maleek (not verified) on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 13:07 Permalink

What do you mean when you say. “ Note that the time outside during OPT is counted towards your maximum permitted days of unemployment” even if it it paid time off?

Note: Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments, blog and community calls on immigration.com. Where transcribed from audio/video, a verbatim transcript is provided. Therefore, it may not conform to the written grammatical or syntactical form.

Submitted by Rajiv S. Khanna on Mon, 03/28/2022 - 07:03 Permalink

ICE has flip-flopped on this during the COVID times. Start your research here: https://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training

I will briefly lay out the original rule, which was unless the time outside the United States is a part of your routine vacation given by the employer to all employees, your time will be counted as an absentee from work. During the Covid times, ICE allowed people to work remotely. Look at the link above and follow through to see what the current thinking is. I will try to update you when I get a chance.

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