Traveling out of the country while OPT STEM Extension application is being processed


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I am currently on my 12 month OPT which expires on Feb 1st, 2016 and I am eligible to apply for STEM OPT extension. I want to send out my application now so that I'd have enough time to get a reply from USCIS regarding my application. However, I have plans to travel outside the country for personal reasons in the month of December (which can't be avoided). When I spoke to the international Student advisor at my university, I was told that I am not supposed to travel outside the country while my application is under processing. So I was advised to apply after my return. 


Now I'm concerned that at the time of re-entry into the states, I might face problems at the port of entry - immigration center, as I'll have only about one month on my current OPT before it expires and I am yet to send out my application for OPT extension. I will however, be able to provide an employment offer letter and other necessary documentation. My question is, how big a risk is this? And what are my options? 


Also, will the timing or any other aspect of the new rules that are being established under OPT STEM, effect my application or my re-entry in any way?


Thank you.

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You should be good. Better go for your trip, come back and then apply. As long as you have pay stubs, job continuation letter you should be good at port of entry. Also your extension application can reach USCIS just before your 12 month OPT expires. So you will almost have a month for applying extension after you return. An you can work 180 days based on your extension receipt. You don't need to have a OPT extension card in hand for continuing your employment.

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