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USCIS Introduces Online Filing for OPT Applicants

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that certain F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can file Form I-765 online beginning April 15, 2021. This creates a more user-friendly option for eligible students and will help increase the efficiencies for adjudicators. 
USCIS has made news recently for lengthy OPT delays and in February, 18 international students filed a class-action lawsuit against USCIS and ICE in response to delays.  

What is OPT?

OPT is a temporary employment option that allows F-1 students to work in positions related to their area of study. Eligible students can apply to work for up to 12 months before completing their studies (pre-completion OPT) or for 12 months after completing their academic program (post-completion OPT). F-1 students graduating with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math ) degrees are eligible to apply for an additional 24-month OPT extension. 
Who is Eligible to File Online?
Online filing is limited to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. F-1 students eligible to file online fall into one of three categories: 
  • Pre-Completion OPT
  • Post-Completion OPT
  • 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM graduates
Filing online is not mandatory. USCIS will continue to accept the latest paper version of Form I-765 by mail.

Benefits of the Online Option 

The option to electronically file Form I-765 offers students a handful of benefits over the traditional paper form. Students filing online have 24/7 access to the status of their case and expedited communication with USCIS—notices are sent online, eliminating mailing time. Form I-765 applications are processed in order of arrival, and while online submissions aren’t prioritized over paper forms, filing online will get you in the queue more quickly.    

Increasing Online Access

The move to allow the filing of Form I-765 is a positive step toward increasing electronic options at USCIS. According to Tracy Renaud, Senior Official Performing the Duties of USCIS Director, “USCIS remains committed to maximizing our online filing capabilities.” 

GoffWilson Immigration 

GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has a decades-long history of helping businesses, institutions of higher education, and students navigate ever-changing and complex immigration laws. If you have a question about the new online filing option, STEM OPT compliance, or any other immigration questions, contact GoffWilson today. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion!
Filed under:Immigration Law