This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 12, 2021, that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online if they are filing under one of these categories:
- (c)(3)(A), Pre-Completion OPT
- (c)(3)(B), Post-Completion OPT
- (c)(3)(C), 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students
USCIS emphasized that the option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT, noting that "[i]f 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 paperless operations, the agency will work to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories."
To submit a form online, an individual must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.gov. The free account allows people to submit forms, pay fees, track the status of their case, communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond to requests for additional evidence. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper versions of forms by mail.