USCIS Announces I-765 Applications for F-1 OPT, STEM OPT Can Be Filed Online; Awaiting Clarifications on Photo Procedures
On April 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students applying for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) or F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM OPT), using Form I-765, can be filed online. Applications can also continue to be filed by mail.
The option of filing online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization for F-1 Pre- or Post-Completion OPT, or F-1 STEM OPT. Online I-765 filing is not available for J-2 work permission applications.
However, for the reasons described below, until confirmations about application photos are received from USCIS, the MIT ISO is advising that student continue to file PAPER applications by MAIL to USCIS.
Colleges/universities have reached out to USCIS for clarification on how the required photos, needed for OPT and STEM OPT applications, will be received. Currently, individuals who file other application types with USCIS online, where the applications require biometrics (photos and/or fingerprints), are notified to schedule an in-person appointment with USCIS Application Support Centers to have photos and fingerprints completed. Due to COVID-19, many of these support centers are not currently open, have limited appointment hours, or have significant backlogs that could delay Form I-765 processing times.
The ISO will provide updates as soon as received from USCIS.
To read the full USCIS announcement, click here.
Information for F-1 visa holders on Optional Practical Training (OPT) or STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) is available on the ISO “Employment” webpage.