Graduates on OPT

Keep in Contact While on OPT

While on OPT, you must keep the Director of International Student Services at Gettysburg College updated with the most current contact information. This includes the following:

  • Address - to maintain status students must notify the Director of International Student Services within 10 days of a change of address,
  • Phone numbers (land and cell),
  • Email address.

Information can be emailed to Brad Lancaster or you can call in the information to Brad at 717-337-6377.

Documenting Your OPT Job Search

The ideal scenario is to have uninterrupted employment during the OPT period. If you are having difficulty finding a job, or if you lost your original OPT job, you should dedicate your full effort to looking for a job, and keep documentation that can demonstrate the job search. For example, you should keep a list of employers you have contacted, resumes you sent, calls you made, and time spent researching companies. If the Department of Homeland Security ever evaluates gaps in employment, such documentation will be expected.

Travel and Reentry After Graduation

Many of the same F-1 procedures used while studying apply. One common overarching regulation is that you can only leave the US temporarily (less than 5 months) in order to be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the OPT period.

Travel While on OPT

Useful Terms:

  • I-797C: After applying for OPT, this notice will be sent to you as a receipt for your application. When you have received this form, your status is “OPT Pending”.
  • EAD Card: Employment Authorization Card. When your application is approved, you will receive your EAD card in the mail. Your status at this time will be “OPT Approved”.

Travel Outside the US on OPT

Please remember immigration officers can exercise the right to deny anyone entry into the US, regardless of status. By traveling at anytime during your OPT, you assume the risk of being denied entry. If you are considering traveling out of the US while on OPT, consider your status FIRST:

OPT Pending

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) at this time states you can travel while your OPT is pending in order to return and search for employment. However, this interpretation is a change from the previous operating instructions. The recommendation is that you do not travel outside of the US while your OPT application is pending. If you have an emergency and must travel it is uncertain as to your risk.

OPT Approved

If you are OPT Approved, meaning you have received your EAD card, you may leave the country and re-enter to resume employment. Meaning, once you are OPT Approved, you can only reenter the US if you have already secured employment and can provide proof of such. You will need to present the following documents to the immigration officer:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Form I-20 (signed by a Designated School Official from the Office of International Student Services)
  • EAD card
  • Letter from employer stating you are returning to work or a letter from a prospective employer stating when you will begin work.