U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program office broadcast the following on May 18, 2018, to students on optional practical training (OPT):
Volunteer positions that are not directly related to your course of study do not qualify as [OPT] and must not be listed as OPT employment. Reporting non-qualifying volunteer opportunities as OPT employment will be deemed a violation of your reporting requirements and subject you to removal from the United States.
In addition, non-qualifying volunteer positions do not stop the accrual of unemployment which is limited to a total of 90 days during OPT. Accordingly, if you have been unemployed for more than 90 days, you must leave the United States or be subject to removal even if you have volunteered while unemployed.
Note: A volunteer position does not meet the conditions of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics OPT extension.