Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Maintaining Status on OPT

While you are pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) you must maintain valid visa status. The following information is provided to help you maintain your status.

Requirements for Maintaining Status

While you were a student you maintained status by taking 12 units every semester and not engaging in unauthorized employment. On OPT, you must also follow the following guidelines to maintain your student status:

  • Report any change in address within 10 days of moving;
  • Do not have more than 90 days of unemployment. Unemployment is counted during the validity period of your work authorization (from-to dates on the EAD card);
  • Must be in a job that is directly related to your program of study;
  • Employment must be at least 20 hours per week and may include:
    • Paid employment
    • Multiple employers
    • Contract or independent contract
    • Self-employed business owner (must show business license and evidence of engaging in business)
    • Employment agency
    • Unpaid or volunteer employment
  • Report any change in employment;

NOTE: It is your responsibility to keep your SEVIS record updated while in OPT status.


Be aware that if you travel for long periods of time (more than 30 days) outside the U.S., or if you do not have a job offer, when you attempt to re-enter the U.S., the port of entry officer at the airport may question your true intentions. It is within the power of the official at the port of entry to deny you admittance.

Once you receive the EAD (I-797D) from USCIS, please provide a copy of this card to our office.