If you are considering applying for Optional Practical Training you should discuss any travel plans outside of the United States with the International Student and Scholar Center well in advance of the completion of your degree requirements.
If you have applied for OPT, but are still enrolled in classes at Seattle University, you should have little difficulty at the port of entry. Generally speaking, while the application is pending you are allowed to travel outside the U.S.
If you have completed all degree requirements and have applied for OPT, you may be able to travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending, but you may not re-enter once it has been approved unless your purpose is to "resume employment." Generally speaking, it is not advisable to travel if you have selected an earlier start date and you are 2.5 to 3 months into the application process.
There is always a certain degree of risk involved when you leave the United States during your OPT time. Regulations now state re-entry during OPT is only to "resume employment" meaning that you must have the job before you leave. Your job must also be relevant to your major, and there are cases of students being denied entry back into the U.S. because their job does not match their educational level and/or major.
Please note the EAD card states "Not valid for re-entry to U.S." This means that the EAD card alone will not allow you back into the United States. You must have other documents to insure your return to the U.S., including but not limited to:
Students returning from a short stay in Canada or Mexico will need the same documents, with the exception of a valid F-1 visa. You should be able to return to the United States from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean islands with an expired F-1 visa. If your F-1 visa has expired and you wish to travel outside of North America, you will need to have your F-1 visa renewed before returning to the United States. It is not advised to travel during OPT time unless you are employed and that there is no question that your job matches your degree and educational level.
This is a general summary of travel and practical training. If you have specific questions about travel restrictions during your OPT time, please contact the International Student and Scholar Center at (206) 296-6260 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*Although this is not always required, it is recommended that you bring adequate proof that you are employed to present upon your return to the United States. Proof may include a letter from your employer (on letterhead) that you will have a job when you return, and/or stubs from your paychecks to show that you have been working. Students who have had Optional Practical Training authorization for several months and are not continuing employment should not travel outside the U.S. border