Thursday February 18, 2021

USCIS’ UPDATE PROVIDES “IMMEDIATE” RELIEF TO F-1 STUDENTS WAITING TO RECEIVE STEM OPT EAD

by Rabindra Singh

USCIS issued an update today regarding the delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, filed by F-1 students to receive Employment Authorization Document (EAD) so that they can start or continue employment. 

Though USCIS provided immediate relief to the F-1 students who filed Form I-765 based on STEM OPT, no specific accommodation was made for post-completion F-1 OPT applicants who have been waiting long even to receive their receipt notice. 

Notably, per today’s announcement, if an applicant timely filed Form I-765 based on STEM OPT, and his/her post-completion OPT period expires while the application is pending, USCIS will “automatically extend the employment authorization for 180 days.”  

Per USCIS, the Form I-20 endorsed by the designated school official recommending a STEM extension together with the expired EAD issued for post-completion OPT establishes identity and work authorization for purposes of documenting employment authorization.

Major takeaways from today’s USCIS announcement: 

  • USCIS continues to experience delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765 relating to optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students.
  • USCIS confirmed that these delays will not affect the received date. All submissions are date stamped upon arrival at the Lockbox, so regardless of when the Lockbox processes application, the received date will reflect the date it actually arrived at the Lockbox.
  • USCIS also confirmed that it will not reject applications solely because they were filed at the lockbox address in use prior to the change to the filing address instructions announced on Jan. 8, 2021. 
  • If an applicant timely filed Form I-765 based on STEM OPT, and his/her post-completion OPT period expires while the application is pending, USCIS will “automatically extend the employment authorization for 180 days.”  
  • The Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO recommending a STEM extension along with the expired EAD (issued for post-completion OPT) will establish identity and work authorization for the purposes of documenting employment authorization.

Please feel free to email us directly at info@hsdimmigration.com  for more information.

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