OPT: Work, Travel and More

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We hope you enjoyed your experiences as a student at Colorado College, and we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors!


Once approved for your post-completion OPT, you will receive an email from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to complete your OPT reporting requirements. SEVP will contact you directly via the email listed in your SEVIS record. The email will come from and will have instructions regarding the SEVP Portal account creation process.

What if I have trouble accessing the SEVP Portal or have questions once I login?

SEVP has a website with step-by-step videos and instructions. If you have not yet set up your SEVP Portal account and are experiencing issues with the setup, please contact to have ISSS reset your portal account.

On OPT you are allowed to accrue a total of only 90 days of unemployment. In order to prevent accruing days of unemployment, you must be working in a paid, unpaid, internship or volunteer position for more than 20 hours per week. It is fine to have multiple positions at one time and throughout your OPT, but all employment must be related to your field of study.


During the 12-month OPT Period

OPT authorizes employment/practical training that is related to your major area of study and commensurate with your level of education. If you work in a job unrelated to your major area of study, you are in violation of your F-1 status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can terminate a student's F-1 SEVIS record if a student works in a position unrelated to their studies. A terminated SEVIS record cancels OPT authorization and invalidates your F-1 status in the U.S.

You should be employed at least 20 hours per week. Regardless of your job title or how the position is classified, such as an "intern," "temp," etc., the following employment options are allowed:

  • Multiple Employers: you may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to your degree program.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists): musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs). Keep a list of positions, dates, and duration.
  • Work for hire: This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment, where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, the student must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-Employment: you may start a business and be self-employed in your field of study. You must have a business license and document your active engagement in business related to your degree.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm: you must be able to provide evidence showing you worked at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
  • Paid employment: you may work part time (at least 20 hours per week on post-completion OPT) or full time.
  • Unpaid employment: you may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this practice does not violate any labor laws. The work work must be at least 20 hours per week. You must be able to provide evidence acquired from your employer to verify that you worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.


Post-Completion OPT is Pending

If your post-completion OPT has not been approved yet (Employment Authorization Document [EAD] card still not yet issued by USCIS), and you do not have a job or a job offer, you may leave and then re-enter the U.S. to continue to look for employment. In order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S. without problems when your post-completion OPT is pending, you should be sure to have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months*)
  • OPT application receipt

If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa when your post-completion OPT application is pending, you should also be sure to have your I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797) in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.

Post-completion OPT is Approved

If your post-completion OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS), you can travel and re-enter the U.S. only if you have proof of employment. If you are still looking for employment/practical training opportunities, you should not travel internationally. For travel, carry the following documents with you:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months*)
  • EAD card (on the EAD card, there is a statement "Not Valid for Reentry." This means the EAD card cannot be used by itself for reentry to the U.S.)
  • Proof of Employment in your field of study (letter of employment, written job offer)


When traveling on OPT is is required to have a letter from your employer to show that you are utilizing your OPT benefit and are not accruing excess days of unemployment. You can also get a letter from your supervisor when you are taking part in an unpaid internship or volunteer position to keep for your records. If questioned about your employment at a visa interview or another situation, you will have this letter to show you were maintaining your status, even though you do not have a history of payment for the employment. This letter will differ depending on your work situation, but it should include as much of the following as possible:

  • Be on company letterhead with company name and address
  • Contain a brief description of job duties (related to field of study)
  • State the dates of employment or at least a start date
  • Verify the number of hours you are working
  • If you are traveling, the letter should confirm that you will continue your employment when you return
  • Letter should be signed by your supervisor

If you have further questions about traveling, employment, or reporting requirements while on OPT, you should call or email the ISSS office.

For more information about the programs and services available to CC alumni, contact the college's Alumni Relations department at

Report an issue - Last updated: 01/12/2021