I am a F-1 student (doctoral student) and I am going to apply for OPT one month before my graduation date. I have read that it might take 3-5 months to receive my EAD card. I have also read that I cannot be unemployed 90 days while on OPT.

Now my question is what happens if I don't receive my EAD 90 days after the graduation date? Can I stay in the United States as long as my OPT approval is pending?


Yes. You can stay in the US as long as your OPT is pending. Time before your OPT is granted, as shown on your EAD, will not count as days of unemployment. See the OPT policy guidance:

7.1.6. What counts as time unemployed?

Each day (including weekends) during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. OPT authorization begins on the employment start date shown on the student’s EAD.

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