USCIS Extends Flexibilities for Certain F-1 Foreign Students Applying for OPT

March 16, 2021

By Immigration Group

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 flexibilities for certain foreign students applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) whose receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, are delayed. The flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021.

To allow F-1 students to complete their full periods of requested OPT (up to 12 months), the 14-month period within which they must complete OPT will start from the date of approval of the I-765 for applications for post-completion OPT. Beginning on February 26, 2021, USCIS is approving applications for post-completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time as originally recommended by the designated school official on Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

USCIS also said that F-1 students requesting post-completion OPT who receive I-765 approval for less than the full amount of OPT time requested (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date may request a correction of the employment authorization document due to USCIS error.

USCIS is also accepting certain refiled I-765s for OPT and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) OPT as filed on the original date until May 31, 2021.