OPT Reporting Requirements

F-1 Reporting Responsibilities during Optional Practical Training

Throughout the period you are authorized for post-completion or STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT), you are responsible for maintaining lawful F-1 status by reporting information to the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

1. OPT Reporting Portal
2. Employment Authorization Document
3. Employment or Other "Appropriate OPT Activity"
4. Address Changes
5. Additional Requirements for STEM OPT Extension
6. Other Changes to Report
7. Unemployment Limits
8. Records You Should Keep


OPT Reporting Portal

On March 23, 2018, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will launch the SEVP Portal, a tool for students on approved post-completion or STEM OPT to:

  • View details about their OPT
  • Report changes to their U.S. residential and mailing addresses and telephone numbers
  • View and update data on their employers 

Updates made in the SEVP portal will be sent directly to SEVIS. SEVP has created a webpage on its Study in the States website with helpful information and resources about the portal for students:

Visit the SEVP Portal Help webpage

Prior to the SEVP Portal's launch, GW F-1 students engaging in OPT are required to report changes in address to the International Services Office (ISO) using GWeb, the University's information system. They are also required to report employment information in the ISO's student portal. The ISO then reviews and submits the data to SEVIS on behalf of the student. 

Although GW F-1 students will continue to receive assistance from the ISO with questions or concerns about their F-1 status or post-completion OPT rights and responsibilities, after the SEVP Portal is launched, students will be strongly encouraged to report OPT-related information using the new SEVP Portal. 


Employment Authorization Document

After you have been approved for OPT and have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD "card"), you are expected to submit a copy of the front and back of your EAD to the ISO using the ISOGateWay portal. 

  1. Login using your GW netID and password.
  2. Select "F-1 Practical Training" in the navigation menu on the left.
  3. Select "Optional Practical Training (OPT)" in the menu.
  4. Click on "Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) Upload.
  5. Upload a copy of the front and back of your EAD. 
  6. Click "Submit". 

You will receive a confirmation email from [email protected]. The ISO will verify your OPT information and dates in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and contact you if there are any issues. 

Go to ISOGateWay


Employment or Other "Appropriate OPT Activity"

During the period indicated on your Employment Authorization Document for post-completion OPT, you may:

  • Be employed, engage in an unpaid internship, or perform unpaid volunteer work
  • “Work” for one or more businesses, companies, organizations, or agencies simultaneously
  • Have a series of OPT “jobs” with different businesses, organizations, or agencies throughout your authorized OPT period
  • Be self-employed and perform work for others on a contractual basis.

Note that all OPT activies must be directly related to the program of study and appropriate for the degree level indicated on your Form I-20. 

For all appropriate OPT activities, you will need to report:

  • Employer name
  • Employer address
  • Full-time (more than 20 hours/week) or part-time (20 or less hours/week)
  • Start date
  • End date (if known)
  • How employment is related to your program of study

Any changes in employment or other appropriate OPT activity must be reported no more than 10 days after the change. Changes include beginning or ending employment, as well as changing a worksite location. Students engaging in OPT may report such changes using the SEVP Portal (with some exceptions*). 

*Note: F-1 students participating in STEM OPT are unable to add a new employer or change the start date with their employer in the SEVP Portal. They must submit their Form I-983 (Training Plan for STEM OPT Students) through ISOGateWay


Address Changes

F-1 students in active status, including those engaging in OPT, are required to report any changes in their U.S. residential address and foreign address to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days.

Beginning March 23, 2018, you may update your address information using the SEVP Portal. Since this system is managed by the U.S. Government, data will be transmitted directly to your SEVIS record. 

Alternatively, you may also update your address in GWeb, the University's information system. Data will be transmitted to the ISO's system overnight, and the ISO will in turn transmit the information directly to your SEVIS record. 


Additional Requirements for STEM OPT Extension

In addition to the reporting requirements that apply to all F-1 students on post-completion OPT, students engaging in an approved STEM OPT extension are required to: 

  • Send a “validation report” to the ISO every 6 months through the ISOGateway portal. 
  • Inform their employers that federal regulations require the employer to notify the ISO within 5 days if employment should cease. OPT STEM employers can contact us at [email protected].

Other Changes to Report

Notify the ISO at [email protected] if:

  • Your name has changed
  • Your immigration status has changed from F-1 Student to another status while you are in the U.S.
  • You have departed the U.S. and do not intend to re-enter in F-1 Student status to use your remaining OPT authorization

Unemployment Limits

During your initial 12 months of OPT authorization, F-1 regulations permit you to be unemployed for a maximum of 90 calendar days. If you are engaged in an appropriate OPT activity, weekends or other days off for vacation or illness do not count as days unemployed. However, if you are not engaged in an appropriate OPT activity, each day (including weekends) counts as one day of unemployment.

You are responsible for keeping track of the number of unemployment days you accrue while participating in OPT. You are also required to report any unemployment and any time you exceed the maximum number of employment days permitted by the OPT regulations.

Important: Exceeding the limits means you have violated a term or condition of your lawful F-1 status. Work with you ISO advisor to avoid exceeding the maximum number of unemployment days. 

H-1B "Cap Gap" Extension
If you are in an H-1B cap-gap extension of your OPT, the aggregate of unemployed days is still 90 days. That means when you add together the time you were unemployed during your initial 12 months and the time you were unemployed during your H-1B cap-gap extension, they cannot total more than 90 days.

STEM OPT Extension
If you have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) granting you a 24-month STEM OPT extension because you completed a selected science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program, the regulations permit you to be unemployed for a maximum of 150 days. However, you must begin counting unemployment days on the date you were authorized for your initial 12 months of post-completion OPT.


Records You Should Keep

It is important that you keep written records on each of your post-completion OPT activities so that you have a record of all time spent engaged in appropriate activities. We suggest that when you cease your OPT employment, or when you cease your unpaid internship or volunteer work with an organization or agency, you ask for a letter verifying the beginning and ending dates of your work or activities. This information might be included in a general letter of recommendation, if you believe it would be appropriate to ask for such a letter. Keep a copy of this document with your other important visa and immigration records.