We have good news for some of you who have recently applied for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).
As you may be aware, USCIS has been experiencing delays at certain lockbox facilities, and thus, there have been delays in receipt notices for Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) being issued.
USCIS announced some flexibilities to help OPT applicants who have been impacted by these delays.
These flexibilities apply to applications that were received on or after October 1, 2020, and will extend through to those received until May 1, 2021.
Here are the flexibilities that are being offered by USCIS:
- 14-month OPT Period Flexibilities
F-1 students can apply to participate in up to 12 months of post-completion OPT. Once approved, it must be completed within 14 months of their graduation/program end date.
However, due to the lockbox delays, USCIS will allow this 14-month period to start from the date that the Form I-765 is approved, rather than the student's program end date.
If you receive a Form I-765 approval for less than the original amount of OPT time requested (due to the requirement that OPT must be completed within 14 months of your program end/graduation date), then you may request a correction of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Visit this page and follow the instructions under "If Your EAD Contains Incorrect Information" (because of a USCIS error), nested under "Replace an EAD."
- Refiling Following A Rejection
Were you unable to refile your OPT or STEM OPT during your eligible application period due to a delayed rejection notice?
USCIS will now accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT if:
- The original application was filed on time, and was received by USCIS on or after October 1, 2020 (applies until May 1, 2021.)
- USCIS rejected this application.
Please note that USCIS must receive your refiled application by May 31, 2021 in order for them to apply this flexibility.
If you choose to refile, note that:
- You do not need to obtain a new Form I-20 with an updated OPT recommendation from your OISS Advisor (DSO), as long as you originally submitted your application within 30 days of your OISS Advisor having issued you their OPT-recommended I-20. (60 days for STEM OPT.)
- You should include a copy of your rejection notice.
- Missing or Difficient Signatures
Applications with missing or incorrect signatures are generally rejected. Although this policy is unchanged, if the lockbox accepts such an application, then USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence instead of a rejection/denial. The applicant will then have an opportunity to correct the deficiency or provide the necessary signature.
Some Important Notes from OISS Advisors
Although we welcome this good news from USCIS, we are awaiting guidance from other government agencies regarding the process by which students may refile.
If you filed an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization that was received by USCIS on or after October 1, 2020, and you believe one of the above USCIS flexibilities apply to you, please consult your assigned OISS advisor. Our team is more than happy to assist!
Wishing you well,
The OISS Team