By: Gladys Gervacio
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended its flexibility for students requesting Optional Practical Training (OPT) to accommodate for delays in the application process. The flexible policy originally applied to Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization filed through May 1, 2021, and has been extended to applications filed through October 31, 2021. The extension comes in response to growing delays in issuing receipt notices leading to shortened or lost OPT periods and rejections.
- 14-month period: F-1 students may finish their 12-month OPT within 14 months of EAD approval. Previously the requirement was 14 months from the end of their F-1 program.
- Post rejection refiling: F-1 OPT and STEM-OPT applications that were timely filed and subsequently rejected may be refiled. F-1 students must submit refiled applications before November 30, 2021.
- Requests for evidence: USCIS will issue a request for evidence (RFE) for F-1 OPT applications with a missing or deficient signature. However, this will not replace USCIS policy which rejects applications with missing or deficient signatures. Applicants should ensure all signatures are sufficient and correct.
The new extension aims to ensure F-1 students get the full 12-month period of OPT and to cut down on improper rejections due to COVID-19 related delays. F-1 students must still submit fully complete OPT EAD applications on time to be approved.
The Chugh, LLP immigration team will continue to monitor the situation as USCIS releases more updates. For specific questions regarding OPT EAD applications or additional information, contact your trusted attorney.