On February 26, 2021, USCIS announced flexibilities for optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021. Here is a list of the changes USCIS is implementing:
14-month OPT Period Flexibilities
To give F-1 students the opportunity to complete the full period of requested OPT (up to 12 months), USCIS will allow the 14-month period to commence from the approval date of their Form I-765.
F-1 students who receive an approved Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date, may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD with a new end date to cover the full amount of OPT time.
Refiling Following Rejection
USCIS will accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT if the original application was received between Oct. 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021 and was rejected. Refiled applications must include a copy of the rejection notice and be received by May 31, 2021.
As long as applicants refiling Form I-765 originally submitted an application for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO’s recommendation, or an application for STEM OPT within 60 days of the DSO’s recommendation, they do not need to obtain a new Form I-20.
Missing or Deficient Signatures
If the lockbox accepts a Form I-765 application for OPT or STEM OPT with a missing or deficient signature, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) instead of denying the application, so the applicant can provide the necessary signature.
Contact our office at email@example.com if you have any questions about applying for OPT or STEM OPT.