If you are an F-1 student who has applied for or is working on optional practical training (OPT) or who will be the beneficiary of a petition to change status to H-1B in this year’s H-1B cap filing season, make sure you understand the risks and requirements of international travel. Several critical factors continue to impact travel this year, including COVID-19 policies worldwide and reduced operations at U.S. consulates. Traveling abroad while awaiting a change of status to H-1B could affect your F-1 status, your ability to change status, and your ability to reenter the United States.
As an F-1 student who has applied for or is working on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) or who may be the beneficiary of an H-1B cap petition and a request to change status starting on October 1, 2022 or later, you must be aware of the requirements and risks of traveling internationally, whether you are in an ongoing course of study, your 60-day grace period, a period of OPT (including a STEM extension), or the “cap gap” – the period between the end of your course of study or OPT and October 1, the date that a timely-filed H-1B petition and change of status on your behalf will take effect. These travel risks are compounded by COVID-19 safety protocols in place worldwide.