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 Lindenwood University, contact the International Student Center to find out about your eligibility for travel.
If you have completed all degree requirements and are planning to do OPT, do not leave the country until you have received your EAD card!
Travel outside of the United States during the time of Optional Practical Training
It is not advisable to make travel plans right after the end of your final quarter at LU. If you would like to travel to Canada or elsewhere soon after your final quarter, you should apply for OPT 2-3 months ahead of time to increase the likelihood that you will have your EAD card in time to travel.
There is always a certain degree of risk involved when you leave the United States during your OPT time. Most student have no trouble traveling in and out of the country, however, there have been cases of students being denied entry back into the United States. The EAD card states "Not valid for re-entry to U.S." That means that the EAD card alone will not allow you back into the United States. Generally, students who travel outside of the United States while doing their year of OPT can return without incident if they have all of the following items in their possession:
• Valid passport
Students returning from a short stay in Canada or Mexico will need similar 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.
• Valid F-1 visa
• I-20 with practical training endorsement typed on page 3
• Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
• Proof of employment or job offer*
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 (636) 949-4982 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 still do not have a job may have difficulty passing through customs and immigration at the port of entry.