Today U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students applying for work authorization in connection with optional practical training (OPT) may now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization online. The online filing option will allow eligible students to file forms in a more user-friendly manner and help to increase efficiencies for adjudicators.
Certain foreign students in the U.S. are eligible for OPT in connection with their studies, and may apply for temporary employment authorization to work in positions related to their major area of study. Eligible students may apply for up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before or after completing their academic studies. F-1 students who are awarded science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for an additional 24 months of post-completion OPT.
What to Expect
- F-1 Students are eligible to file online if they fall within one of the following categories:
- Pre-Completion OPT;
- Post-Completion OPT;
- 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM graduates.
- The online filing option is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request employment authorization on or after April 15 based on eligibility for employment authorization in another category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee.
- To file online, applicants must create a USCIS online account. This allows applicants to submit forms, pay fees, track case status, communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond to Requests for Evidence.
- Filing online is not required. USCIS will continue to accept the latest paper version of Form I-765 by mail.
USCIS processes Form I-765 applications on a first-in, first-out basis. Applications submitted online will not be prioritized over paper filings; however, filing online will mean that the application is receipted and placed in the adjudication queue more quickly.
USCIS is working to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories as part of a transition to paperless operations. USCIS currently has 11 forms that can be filed online.