New Tip Sheet Released to Help F-1 Students Avoid Delays in OPT Applications

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman has recently released a fact sheet aimed at providing crucial guidance to F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) in order to prevent unnecessary delays in their application process. This initiative comes as a response to feedback from stakeholders and aims to streamline the OPT application procedure.

The fact sheet outlines several key points that F-1 students should take into consideration when applying for OPT to minimize potential delays. These points include:

1. Stay Updated: F-1 students are advised to regularly check USCIS’ website for updates before submitting Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization.

2. Properly Endorse Form I-20: It is essential that students ensure their Form I-20, the Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is correctly signed, dated, and endorsed to match the specific type of employment authorization they are seeking.

3. Apply Online: USCIS strongly recommends that students submit their Form I-765 online, as it provides a faster and more efficient process.

4. Timely Submission: F-1 students should submit their completed Form I-765 within 30 days of the date indicated by the designated school official (DSO) in the Date Issued section on Form I-20. STEM students applying for an OPT extension have an extended deadline of 60 days.

5. Submitting Form I-20 and Form I-765 Together: To streamline the application process, it is crucial to submit a properly completed Form I-20 along with Form I-765 at the same time.

6. Maintain Updated Mailing Address: F-1 students must ensure that both USCIS and the U.S. Postal Service have their current mailing address on file to avoid potential delivery issues or miscommunication.

For further guidance and detailed information, interested individuals are encouraged to refer to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students page on USCIS’ website, where additional resources can be found.

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman is committed to assisting designated school officials (DSOs), F-1 students, and other stakeholders throughout the OPT and STEM OPT process. As part of their ongoing efforts, a webinar on international student issues was held in August 2022, and a compilation of follow-up questions and answers can be accessed on the Interagency Engagement on International Student Issues page. The Ombudsman’s office continues to engage with stakeholders, elevate their feedback to USCIS, and develop supplementary resources as needed.

The fact sheet released by the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman equips F-1 students with essential insights and practical advice to navigate the OPT application process smoothly. By adhering to the recommended guidelines, F-1 students can mitigate delays and enhance their chances of securing the necessary employment authorization.