USCIS Announces Premium Processing Service Available for Applications Filed for F-1 OPT and F-1 STEM OPT Extension
On March 6, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the expansion of Premium Processing services to applications for F-1 Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (Pre-Completion OPT), F-1 Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (Post-Completion OPT), and F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension (STEM OPT).
Starting March 6, 2023: USCIS will accept premium processing requests from students with already pending OPT or STEM OPT applications that have been filed via paper form or online. Applicants must already have their Receipt Notice issued by USCIS to document the already pending OPT/STEM OPT application.
Starting April 3, 2023: USCIS will accept premium processing requests from students when filed together with application for OPT or STEM OPT filed via paper form or online.
The Premium Processing Fee, using Form I-907, for F-1 OPT/STEM OPT Extension applications, is $1,500.
The Premium Processing Fee is in addition to the standard application fee for the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization used to apply for F-1 OPT or F-1 STEM OPT Extension (the I-765 fee for OPT/STEM OPT is currently $410, but is may increase based on a pending USDHS fee proposal).
The full USCIS announcement is available here: https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-announces-premium-processing-new-online-filing-procedures-for-certain-f-1-students-seeking-opt
USCIS states that the expected premium processing timeline would be 30 calendar days for USCIS to make a decision on the OPT/STEM OPT application once the premium processing request has been received. Once the application is approved, it will take some additional time to receive the Employment Authorization (EAD) Card for the approved OPT or STEM OPT Extension application by mail from USCIS (average 7-14 days).
Students are not required to file an OPT or STEM OPT Extension application with Premium Processing, it is an option. It is possible to file the OPT or STEM OPT application and wait to see if the application will be processed within the desired timeline, or file the Premium Processing request at any time while the application is pending to expedite the approval so the authorization may be received by the desired date.
Please note that security reviews of applications filed with USCIS can extend the processing timeline, even with Premium Processing.
If you have any questions about the eligibility for F-1 Pre-Completion OPT, F-1 Post-Completion OPT or F-1 STEM OPT Extension, as well as application procedures for these employment authorization types with USCIS, please consult the ISO resources on the ISO Employment webpage: https://iso.mit.edu/employment/ If after review of the ISO online resources you have any questions, please contact your ISO Advisor.