OPT Unemployment days – Rules to follow

OPT Unemployment

OPT Unemployment days – Rules to follow

International students on F1 visa are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training(OPT). Students should be employed in a job that is related to their field of study in order to work on OPT. You need to be employed while you are on OPT otherwise you risk losing OPT and F1 status. Below are some of the rules that you should be aware of while you are on OPT.

  • The maximum OPT unemployment days is 90 calendar days. If you are unemployed for more than 90 days in aggregate, you risk losing OPT and F1 visa status. This will also cause other issues when applying for Change of status from F1 to H1B or F1 to permanent residency down the line.
  • Unemployment days are counted from the start date of the OPT Employment Authorization. So it is important for students to update DSO when they begin employment so that DSO can update SEVIS with the employment information. You could also update this information directly in SEVP portal if you are provided access to SEVP by DSO. Any material changes like address information, employment information should be reported within 10 days. If you don’t report your employment details to DSO or SEVP, you are considered unemployed. So it is important to let your DSO know about any employment updates.
  • The student should be working at least 20 hours per week on OPT. Working less than 20 hours per week will count towards the 90 day Unemployment days limit.
  • Vacation time or leave time approved by the employer is not counted towards the 90 day unemployment period.
  • It is important to plan the OPT begin date correctly. You don’t want to apply for OPT without a job offer in hand because you will start accruing unemployment days once the EAD is approved. Approval of OPT EAD generally takes 3 months. On the other hand, if you apply very late you may jeopardize the employment offer because you will not have EAD by the employment begin date. Proper planning is key to avoid accrual of OPT unemployment days.
  • You should search for jobs with only the employers that accept candidates on OPT and are willing to sponsor H1B visa. You should make it clear on your resume and in discussions with recruiters that you are looking for jobs that accept students on OPT. You will save time and heartache if they can’t accept candidates on OPT during job offer. You can search for job sites like indeed and linkedin to find jobs that accept OPT students.
  • If you are unable to find a paying job, find a volunteer job without pay in your field of study. Days worked n Volunteer and unpaid jobs don’t count towards the 90 day unemployment limit.

Options when you are unemployed on OPT


But in the unfortunate situation that you are unable to find a job, you will start accruing unemployment days. You have to leave the country or explore other options to stay back in the US before accruing 90 days of unemployment. There is no grace period once you are over the unemployment days limit. If you are planning to enroll in another program, you need to find a university or college that offers immediate admission. Most universities in the USA only accept students in fall and spring semesters and these universities will not work if you want to enroll in a college immediately. Skoolville.com can help you find Universities that offer immediate admission. Please register via the form on this page and our support staff will work with you to find and apply to a program that best meets your needs.



skoolville.com is a one-stop application portal. You don’t need to apply through the university websites. With just a few clicks you can send your application to multiple universities in USA, Canada, and Australia using skoolville.com. Our service is 100% free for students.
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