Am I allowed to travel outside the U.S. while my STEM OPT extension is pending?


In the preamble to the regulation that created the 24-month STEM OPT program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) laid out the rule regarding travel while a STEM OPT extension is pending:

“Students on STEM OPT extensions (including those whose application for a STEM OPT extension is pending) may travel abroad and seek reentry to the United States in F-1 status during the STEM OPT extension period if they have a valid F-1 visa that permits multiple entries and a current Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility endorsed for reentry by the DSO within the last six months. The student’s status is determined by CBP upon admission to the United States or through a USCIS adjudication of a change-of-status petition.”

Note that, in most circumstances, time spent outside the U.S. while on OPT/STEM OPT counts towards the unemployment time. (31.Aug.2023)

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