USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Foreign Students Applying for Post-Completion OPT

March 1, 2021

On February 26, 2021, USCIS announced flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply to Optional Practical Training (OPT) EAD applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021.

This announcement comes less than two weeks after foreign students facing OPT EAD application delays filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Ohio that the federal court compel USCIS to adjudicate their applications in a “timely manner.”

F-1 foreign students may participate in up to 12 months of post-completion OPT, which must be completed within 14 months from the end of their program.  In its announcement, USCIS described how it is experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for OPT EAD applications for F-1 students which are a result of, among other things,  COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in certain filings, and postal service delays.  As a result of those delays, some OPT applicants may only be eligible for a shortened period of OPT within that 14-month time period.  To allow F-1 students to complete the full period of requested OPT (up to 12 months), USCIS will allow the 14-month period to commence from the date of approval of the Form I-765 for applications for post-completion OPT.

USCIS is also extending flexibilities to applicants whose I-765 OPT s were rejected and were unable to timely file within the required timeframe.  USCIS will accept a Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT as filed on the original filing date if the original, timely filed but rejected application was received between October 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021.  In addition, USCIS is extending flexibilities to F-1 students requesting post-completion OPT affected by the delays who received an approval of Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time requested due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date. Those individuals need only submit a correction request to USCIS and USICS will reissue the EAD to cover the full amount of time requested in the original application.

We will be monitoring this evolving situation and will be posting updates on our website.  Please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help.

 


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