It is common for students to want to travel after completing their studies and before starting work. However, traveling at anytime can involve some degree of risk. Depending on where you are with your OPT application and F-1 visa/status, there are factors to consider. Please note that if you applied for a change of status to F-1 with USCIS or the F-1 visa in your passport is expired, you will need to go through the F-1 visa interview to get an F-1 visa in your passport and return to the US on F-1 status.

Traveling while OPT is Pending:

If you have applied for OPT, but it is not yet approved you should carry:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months

  • F-1 visa in passport (go to visa interview if necessary and carry I-797 change of status approval notice from USCIS. You may contact the consulate/embassy to see what other documents you will need to prepare for their visa interview and what fees apply.)

  • I-20 signed for travel with proposed OPT dates (page 2)

  • OPT receipt

You should also have someone you trust check on your mail in case you receive some notice from USCIS regarding your OPT application. If your OPT is approved while you are outside of the US, you will need your OPT EAD card mailed to you so you can use it when returning to the US.

Traveling after OPT is approved:

Students who have their OPT approved and are working should carry the following while traveling:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months

  • F-1 visa in passport (go to visa interview if necessary and carry I-797 change of status approval notice from USCIS. You may contact the consulate/embassy to see what other documents you will need to prepare for their visa interview and what fees apply.)

  • Proof of employment such as job offer letter or pay stubs

  • I-20 signed for travel and with employment details (page 2)

  • EAD Card

  • OPT approval notice