As of April 12, 2021, F-1 students can now apply for optional practical training (OPT) electronically if they fall under one of the below categories:
- (c)(3)(A)—Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B)—Post-Completion OPT; or
- (c)(3)(C)—24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students.
OPT is temporary employment authorization that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). Eligible F-1 students who earn STEM degrees may apply for an additional 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT, for a total of 36 months.
Students are now able to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online. To file the form online, applicants must create a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) online account at myaccount.uscis.gov. Online filing allows applicants to check the status of their case electronically and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. The option to file Form I-765 online is currently only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT.
Please note that USCIS will continue to accept the most current I-765 form by mail as well. However, online filing can provide a more convenient option and instant confirmation of receipt, whereas hard-copy receipt notices following submission of the application by mail take some time.
For more information, please reach out to the NP Immigration team.