OPT & Travel

Traveling on OPT

If you are considering applying for Optional Practical Training, you should discuss any travel plans outside of the United States with the International Student Center well in advance of the completion of your degree requirements.

Travel outside of the United States while in the application process

If you have applied for OPT, but are still enrolled in classes at Seattle University, you should not encounter problems at the port of entry. 

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. Generally speaking, it is not advisable to travel after the first 30 days of the application process. If you choose to travel, be sure to bring any supporting documents with you, including your I-20 showing your OPT is "pending" and your receipt notice if possible. Once your application has been approved, you can re-enter the country only to “resume employment.”

Travel outside of the United States while approved for Post-Completion OPT

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”. That means 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 ensure your return to the U.S., including but not limited to:

  • Valid Passport
  • Valid F-1 Visa
  • I-20 with practical training endorsement, employment info, and current travel signature on page 2
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • Proof of employment and continuing employment*

Students returning from 30 days or less in Canada or Mexico will need the same documents, with the exception of a valid F-1 Visa stamp. 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 Post-OPT unless you are employed, and 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 Center at (206) 296-6260 or email at isc@seattleu.edu for more information.


*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.