Travel while your application for Post Completion Optional Practical Training is Pending

A student may travel abroad and be readmitted while the request for practical training is pending with USCIS," but "such travel should be undertaken with caution:

The  Foreign Affairs Manual,  created by the U.S.  Department of Statue provides this guidance:

  1.  (U) An F-1 or M-1 student authorized to accept employment for practical training who leaves the country temporarily may be readmitted for the remainder of the authorized period. The student must be returning solely to perform the authorized training. Additionally, a student may travel abroad and be readmitted while the request for practical training is pending with USCIS, but such travel should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send a request for evidence to the U.S. address on the application while the applicant is away. Additionally, if USCIS approves the OPT application, the applicant will be expected to have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in hand to reenter the United States. Like a request for evidence, USCIS can only send the EAD to a U.S. address.
  2. (U) A valid F-1 or M-1 visa, the Form I-20, EAD (if issued), and an accurate electronic SEVIS record are required to reenter the United States for practical training purposes. A letter of employment may also be required. For individuals attempting to travel abroad and be readmitted while an application for the STEM OPT extension is pending, the Form I-20 should be endorsed for reentry by the DSO within the last six months.

Travel After  your application for Post Completion Optional Practical Training is Approved

An F-1 student who is engaged in post-completion OPT who travels outside the United States temporarily (i.e., less than 5 months) can be readmitted to resume employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her EAD card, provided:

  • The student presents a Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO within the preceding 6 months
  • The student presents an unexpired EAD, and
  • The student is returning to resume employment
  • The student presents a valid F-1 visa (unless exempt from the visa requirement)

Please see https://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel for additional information on Travelling Outside the United States while on an authorized period of Optional Practical Training