New Requirements for F-1 Student Visa Holders on OPT Employed in the United States

23 Dec, 2023

If you’re an F-1 student visa holder working in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, there are important new requirements that you need to be aware of. The Department of Homeland Security, under ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), has made significant changes to the reporting regulations for student visa activities, specifically related to work on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

In September 2019, these changes were implemented to ensure that proper reporting is carried out for students engaged in OPT work in the United States. Failure to comply with these new requirements could potentially lead to the invalidation of your visa status, which is why it’s crucial to understand and fulfill these obligations accurately.

Reporting Work on SEVIS

The major change in the requirements pertains to the necessity for students to update the SEVIS system or work with a Designated School Official (DSO) to provide detailed information on how their field of study directly relates to the work they are doing. This includes explaining how their job aligns with their degree program and outlining their job duties in relation to their major.

Filling out the SEVIS Form

Students are now required to log into the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) portal and provide information in the “relation to the field of study” section. This involves explaining how their job is connected to the degree that qualified them for OPT, detailing the job description and duties, and demonstrating the relevance of their major to their current employment.

Specific Examples and Nuances

The specific requirements for relating job duties to the field of study can vary depending on the nature of the work being performed. For instance, if a student’s major is in music and they are working at a restaurant, they would need to specify how their role at the restaurant is related to their major, such as being in charge of music or entertainment.

Conversely, if a student studied accounting and is employed at an accounting firm, it’s important to specify how their job duties directly align with their field of study, as merely working at an accounting firm does not automatically establish the relevance of the work to their major.

Completing the Reporting Process

The written explanation of the job’s relation to the field of study should include the student’s job title, employer name, major area of study, whether it’s a full-time job, the average hours worked per week, and a brief description of how the job duties are connected with the major.

While Designated School Officials can provide assistance, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure the accurate and complete reporting of this information. Failure to do so can have serious implications for your visa status and future immigration processes.


It is essential for F-1 visa holders on OPT to adhere to these new reporting requirements in order to maintain their legal status in the United States. Understanding the nuances of relating job duties to your field of study and accurately completing the SEVIS reporting process is crucial.

If you encounter challenges or require further guidance, it is advisable to consult with your university or college’s Designated School Official. Ensuring compliance with these regulations will safeguard your immigration status and prevent potential issues with future immigration processes.

For personalized guidance and support with immigration matters, you can schedule a consultation with the JQK Immigration Law Firm by emailing [email protected]. Stay informed and proactive in meeting these new requirements to protect your status as an international student in the United States.

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