We have learned today that USCIS has announced 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; and
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
OPT is temporary employment 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 receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT. The option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT.
Important Note: If 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. The announcement states that USCIS hopes to transition to more paperless operations, and this online filing for the EAD should be expanded to additional EAD categories in the future. Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. USCIS is using innovation and technology to meet the needs of applicants, petitioners and employees.
We welcome this technological advancement by USCIS and hope that it leads to timely adjudications of EADs for F-1 students.