Career Tips for International Students

Four Strategies to Stop the OPT Unemployment Allowance Clock

To learn more about job search strategy for F-1 international students, visit

I’ve been getting a bunch of requests from new international grads who are on the hunt for jobs in this tough economy. And guess what else? Their OPT is about to start! So, I wanna share four cool strategies with you that can actually stop the OPT unemployment allowance clock. If you just graduated and your OPT is about to start! You have only 90 days after your OPT starts to find a job that’s related to your field of study.

What I’m going to share today is based on real stories from a few international students who have used these strategies to stop the clock. Before deciding to pursue any of these options, please remember to contact your International Student Services office to ensure eligibility.

  1. Consider volunteering to avoid accruing unemployment days.

How can you find non-profit organizations in your area to volunteer with?

One effective way is to utilize online platforms and directories that connect volunteers with non-profit organizations. Websites such as

can be great resources to find volunteer opportunities.

2. Consider seeking contract jobs.

Contract work can be a viable option for your first-year OPT. Many companies and organizations hire contractors for short-term projects or assignments.

These contract positions can provide valuable work experience and help you meet the employment requirement of your OPT period.

And sometimes, when you’re a good fit for the team, you may have a chance to convert your contract role into a full-time opportunity.

3. consider reaching out to your professors for an offer letter that can potentially be considered an OPT job opportunity.

Your professors may have research projects or other academic initiatives where they could hire you as a research assistant or provide you with a job offer letter. This can be a valuable experience and help you fulfill the employment requirement during your OPT period.

4. explore the possibility of building your own business and working on OPT.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and capital to invest in the business, starting your own venture can be an exciting path to consider. Not only will you have the flexibility to work on projects directly related to your degree, but you’ll also gain valuable entrepreneurial experience. Ensure that your business complies with all necessary licenses and regulations, and consider consulting with professionals or organizations that provide support for startups and small businesses. They can guide you through the process and offer valuable advice to help you succeed.

Remember, these are options for you to pause the OPT clock in your first year after graduation while looking for a full-time job at your dream company.

For STEM international students who are on OPT and when you’re approaching your STEM extension, your employers must be e-verified in order to utilize your STEM OPT for work in the US.

To check whether the employer is verified or not, check out the link I provided in the caption below.

Use the E-Verify search tool below to find employers who are currently enrolled in E-Verify.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your designated school official (DSO) for guidance and clarification. They are there to assist you throughout this process and ensure that you make the most of your STEM OPT extension.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. You can reach out to me and our community at

Let’s listen to this episode to receive more information on how to stop your OPT unemployment allowance clock.

Think Big & Live Your Dream!

Coach Kwan, ICAway


Please note that the information provided here is of a general nature and should not be considered as legal immigration advice. We are unable to assess individual circumstances and provide specific guidance on immigration matters. It is essential to consult with your international student services office or a qualified immigration professional to ensure eligibility and obtain accurate advice tailored to your specific situation.

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