OPT Frequently Asked Questions & Resources
Insurance During OPT
After you graduate from UW Bothell, you are no longer eligible to purchase the health insurance plan through UW. The health insurance through UW is only for enrolled, degree-seeking students.
If you are not employed or do not receive health insurance through your OPT employer, we strongly encourage you to purchase insurance through providers that have coverage for international students on OPT, such as:
- ISO Insurance - OPT Plan
- International Student Insurance – OPT Plan
- Additional information from UW about other insurance plans
Can I travel outside the US after I apply for OPT?
When you have completed your degree, you will not be able to return to the US until:
- You have been approved for OPT
- You have your EAD (sent to your US address)
- You have employment
Re-entering the United States While on OPT:
While on OPT/STEM OPT work authorization, you are still on your F-1 visa. When you re-enter the United States, you must always have the following items with you:
- Valid Passport
- Valid F-1 Visa* (there are some exceptions, read below about Automatic Revalidation if your current visa has expired.)
- Current I-20 with Valid Travel Endorsement: The travel endorsement is only valid for 6 months when on Post-completion OPT, so please ensure you receive a new travel endorsement from ISS before you depart the U.S.
- Current I-20 with information about your current employment on it. Request a printed copy of your I-20 with your employment information. To update your employment information, please use the SEVP Portal Account.
- EAD Card
- Any documentation that shows proof that you are employed, such as pay stubs, letter from your supervisor, etc.
What are the minimum requirements for any work that I do during my OPT?
All work that you do while on OPT must be related to your UWB degree (your major, NOT minor); And more than 20 hours per week. Employment that is not related to the major is a status violation.
What Types of Employment are Acceptable for OPT?
- The following are acceptable forms of employment as long as the work is related to your major:
- Regular paid employment: You can work for multiple employers.
- Volunteer or unpaid opportunities: You need to be able to provide evidence about how it is related to your major and have evidence of the number of hours you volunteered.
- Payment by multiple short-term employers: Keep a list of all short-term employment, dates, and durations.
- Work for hire: Employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. Have evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner: You can start a business and be self-employed. You must be able to prove that you have the proper business licenses and are actively engaged in a business related to your major.
- Employment through an agency: You must be able to provide evidence showing how many hours you worked through the agency.
What if I haven’t found a job by my start date?
You have 90 days of unemployment to find a job. Your unemployment days begin counting on your start date. OPT Start date = Day 1.
What if I don’t find a job within 90 days of my start date?
You must leave the US before you reach the end of your 90 days of unemployment.
When will I know if my OPT application is approved?
USCIS will send you a notification via email and in the mail with your approval. This process used to take roughly 90 days. Approvals are now quicker with the online application.
What if I move before my application is approved?
Moving before your application is approved is risky because it can result in your EAD being lost in the mail or undelivered. To officially change your address, please log in and use the USCIS account you used for your OPT application.
What if my EAD gets lost in the mail?
USCIS will provide you with a tracking number for the EAD. If it says it’s delivered but you did not receive the card, you can use this USPS tool to help. A lost EAD usually means filing another I-765 (paying another fee to USCIS).
What happens after my OPT or STEM OPT ends?
If you successfully complete your OPT or STEM OPT period, you receive a 60-day grace period. The grace period begins the day after the end date on your EAD card.
You must take one of the following actions during your grace period:
- Depart the United States before your grace period ends.
- If you have received admission to a new degree program, you must complete all required paperwork and transfer your I-20 to your new school.
- If you have received admissions to a new degree program at UWB, you will need to talk with ISS so that we can update your I-20 before your grace period ends. You will be required to show current financial documents that show funds to support your first year of study in your new program at UWB.
- Change to another type of non-immigration/immigration status to remain lawfully in the United States.