Immigration Alert: Flexibility on Validity Period Extended to Certain Applications for OPT for Foreign Students Due to Delay in Receipt Issuance

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has been experiencing delays in issuing receipts notices for Form I?765 for optional practical training (OPT) for F?1 students, due to COVID?19 restrictions, a dramatic increase in filings, postal service volume and delays, and other external factors.

On February 26, USCIS announced flexibilities for certain foreign 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, inclusive. The following questions and answers will discuss the highlights of this policy.

Q: I filed for a 12 month post completion OPT which must be completed within 14 months from the end of my academic program. It is been 4 months since my program ends. Should I expect a shortened OPT period?

A: If your application is filed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, you will be allowed the 14 month period to commence from the date of approval of the Form I? 765 for the application for post?completion OPT.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will approve applications for post?completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended by the designated school official (DSO) from their school on the Form I?20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

Q: I finally received an approval on my application for I-765 OPT, however due to the delay in processing, there is only 8 months left in my OPT period.  What can I do?

A: If your application is filed within the required timeframe, you may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD with a new end date, as requested, to cover the full amount of OPT time recommended in the original application.

Q: My I-765 application for OPT got rejected and I am unable to refile before May 1, 2021. Am I not eligible for this Flexibility policy?  

A: It depends. USCIS will accept a refiled Form I?765 for OPT and STEM OPT as filed on the original filing date if:

  • The original, timely filed application was received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive; and
  • USCIS subsequently rejected it.
  • Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.

Please contact Shuyuan Michelle Tian, Esq. of Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP for questions regarding this policy, filing/refiling for I-765 applications for OPT,  and/or any other F-1 Visa related matters.  

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