With the recent challenges with lay-offs in the tech industry, we have also heard of students on OPT or STEM OPT asking questions about receiving lump sums of money to start their jobs later than expected. Lump sums from potential employers are often called signing bonuses. The sign-on bonus is not considered employment and you should be able to accept the money.
If you do have delayed start dates, you may need to find other work. Unemployment days count from the day your EAD (for OPT or STEM OPT) is approved. If your job start date has been delayed for six months, you will need other work to ensure you can maintain F-1 status. As always, we recommend that you consult with your immigration attorney through your employer for further information and support.