USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT
On February 26, 2021, USCIS issued a news release “USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT“, providing some support for international students who filed Form I-765 applications (F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM OPT Extension) to USCIS lockbox centers that have faced receipt notice delays.
These flexibilities only apply to applications received by USCIS between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021.
14-month OPT Period Flexibilities
Normally, post-completion OPT authorization would need to be completed within 14 months of a student’s date of completion of their degree program. Due to the processing delays, USCIS has indicated that students will receive the full period of OPT requested (up to 12 months) from the date USCIS approves the post-completion OPT application.
Refiling Applications Following Rejection
USCIS advised that due to the lockbox delays, applicants who timely filed the Form I-765 for F-1 OPT, whose applications were rejected and returned by USCIS, and those students were unable to timely refile the application within required timeframes, may be able to refile the application with USCIS if certain conditions are met. The original applications (that were rejected) must have been timely filed (delivered to USCIS) between October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021.
Please read the full USCIS news release here.
NOTE: USCIS has not released any guidance changing the requirement that students must be physically inside the U.S. when USCIS receives the F-1 OPT or F-1 STEM OPT Extension application. Students must still plan to be physically inside the U.S. when filing their OPT/STEM OPT applications and should remain in the U.S. until they receive a receipt notification (text/email or paper notice) from USCIS.
If you have any questions, please contact your ISO Advisor.