Travel Outside the U.S. while Authorized for OPT
It is important to remember that you are still in F1 status while engaging in Optional Practical Training. That being said, you need to be able to show the following materials to re-enter the U.S.
- Valid F-1 entry visa
- Valid passport
- I-20 which has been signed for re-entry within the last six months
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
- Proof of employment
The only exception to showing proof of employment is while your OPT application is still pending with the USCIS. If your application has not been approved yet, you may travel outside the U.S. and re-enter while your application is pending without a job offer. You must be very careful in doing this. If your employment is approved while you are outside the U.S. you will need to show a job offer letter to re-enter.
If the application for OPT is still pending you should be able to re-enter the U.S. with the first three items and a copy of the receipt notice from your OPT application.
Once your OPT is approved, you will not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. unless you are returning to RESUME employment or you at least have a job offer.
If your F-1 entry visa is expired and you will be traveling outside the United States, you will need to apply for a new F-1 entry visa before you can re-enter in F-1 status. This may be more difficult than your original application because you still have to prove that you do not intend to remain permanently in the United States. This becomes more and more difficult to do the longer you remain in the United States.
If you no longer live in Philadelphia and cannot come in for a signature, send an email to email@example.com and request a new I-20. Include your mailing address and we will mail you a new document for travel purposes. If you want to have the I-20 sent via express mail you will be responsible for express mail charges.
Re-Entering the U.S. in any visa classification other than F-1 will void the employment authorization. Check your I-94 card upon entry. If anything other than F-1 is written there you are NOT if F-1 status and not eligible to continue employment.