DHS regulations define the period of an F-1 student’s valid status as the time the student is pursuing a full course of study or is engaged in authorized post-completion Optional Practical Training, plus a 60 day grace period. The DHS has established an aggregate maximum period of allowed unemployment of 90 days for students on 12-month OPT. Students who qualify for and receive the 17-month OPT extension can be unemployed for an aggregate of 120 days.
Exceptions to the 90 days of unemployment includes periods of up to 10 days between one job ending and another one starting, and 10 days from the beginning of the EAD card. Volunteer (unpaid) employment while on post-completion OPT does not accrue unemployment time provided the volunteer work is for 20 hours per week or more. Volunteer work is not available during the 17 month STEM extension. Unemployment does not count during pre-completion OPT.
This particular part of the rule also puts responsibility on students to keep UC International Services up to date with the name and address of your OPT employer. Unless we have the SEVIS system updated with the name and address of your employer, you will be accumulating unemployment time in SEVIS. Once you have reached the 90 or 120 day maximum your F-1 status will be terminated.
For those of you currently looking for employment, please notify UC International Services with the name and address of your employer once employment is secured. If you don’t secure employment within the 90 days of beginning your OPT, you will be expected to depart the U.S. or otherwise take steps to maintain proper F-1 status (get a new I-20 to start a new program of study).