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) notified stakeholders that the agency continues to experience delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories relating to optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students. USCIS currently recommends that such applicants wait eight weeks before contacting the agency to ask about case status.
USCIS provided clarifications and reminders:
- The delays will not affect the received date. All submissions are date-stamped upon arrival at the lockbox, so regardless of when the lockbox processes the application, the received date will reflect the date it actually arrived at the lockbox.
- USCIS will not reject applications solely because they were filed at the lockbox address in use before the change to the filing address instructions announced on January 8, 2021. The agency encourages applicants filing Form I-765 to always check the form instructions on USCIS's website for the most up-to-date filing instructions.
- If an applicant timely filed Form I-765 based on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) OPT, and the 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 designated school official recommending a STEM extension together with the expired Form I-766 employment authorization document issued for post-completion OPT establishes identity and work authorization for purposes of documenting employment authorization.