With the pandemic still going in high swing, there have been numerous issues of service delays to the candidates keeping a lookout for their employment. This is especially true for the students who are eligible to work under the OPT program.
OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study up to 12 months of OPT authorization. Eligible F-1 students who have STEM degrees can apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.
To make the system easily reachable for all F-1 candidates, USCIS announced, that it would be now enabling online filing for Form I-765. This is specifically done for the application of work authorization for F-1 candidates seeking OPT.
F-1 Students Can File Form I-765 Online for OPT
With this provision of online filing, students will find it much easier to file their applications and wait for a response from USCIS. The online filing also means that their process will get on to fast track. Students will be able to be assured that their application has reached the authorities. It also helps in advocating a user-friendly approach as well as increases the process efficiency for all applicants.
Who benefits from this provision?
The new online application is accepted if they are filing for one of these categories, namely:
- (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.
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. Regardless of the paper or electronic format of an application or petition, USCIS is committed to ensuring a secure and efficient process for all.
“USCIS remains committed to maximizing our online filing capabilities,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of USCIS Director Tracy Renaud. “The I-765 online filing option allows eligible students to file forms online in a more user-friendly fashion and increases efficiencies for adjudicators.”
With the delays being experienced at the USCIS lockbox facility and hence, the delays experienced in Form I-765, this facility is a blessing in disguise for all students. Right now, this facility is solely available for F-1 students who want to file Form I-765 to apply for their OPT EAD. 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.
How to file your USCIS application online?
To put your file in, you must create an USCIS account online. Using USCIS free account, Students will be able to easily do all the application processes like:
- Submit their forms;
- Pay their fees;
- Track the status of their case;
- Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; and
- Respond to Requests for Evidence.
An important point to note is it is not compulsory to file online. You can still go with the traditional method of mailing your application to the USCIS in the latest available format of Form I-765.
USCIS processes the applications received on ‘first come, first serve’ basis. No specific priority would be given to online applications over paper filings. But online filing will mean that your application has been put in the spotlight of USCIS, thus has been receipted, and that you will be adjudicated faster. While the online application is only applicable for OPT right now, USCIS is working on making it available for other categories as well. Currently, USCIS has 11 forms available for online filing, which can all be found on the Forms Available to File Online page.