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

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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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