On April 12. 2021 USCIS announced that F-1 students can now file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization online when applying for Pre-Completion OPT, Post-Completion OPT, or a 24-month OPT STEM extension. This is a welcome change and will hopefully result in timely adjudications.

As addressed in my previous blog, due to the substantial delays in issuing filing receipts for mail in  filings of OPT I-765 applications at  USCIS  lockboxes, USCIS  announced flexibilities to certain F-1 OPT applicants filing I-765 forms on or after October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. With the ability to now  file OPT I-765 applications  online, proof of filing can be obtained immediately.

The option to file Form I-765 online is limited to F-1 students filing for OPT. As indicated in the  USCIS announcement: “If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request  employment authorization on or after April 15, but is eligible for a different employment authorization category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee.”

As USCIS continues to transition to electronic filings, the hope is to expand online filings for Form I-765 to categories than OPT. It is yet to see if the electronic filing will result is speeder adjudications. If that is not the case, the expansion of the premium processing program to cover adjudication of I-765 applications in all  categories will be a welcome change as many applicants for employment authorization have been waiting for at least six months or more before employment authorization is granted.

USCIS News Release F-1 Students Seeking Optional Practical Training Can Now File Form I-765 Online


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