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Special Notices

USCIS update regarding applicants filing Form I-765 for OPT or STEM OPT

On April 12, 2021, USCIS announced that certain F-1 students can now file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online. 

F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) in an occupation directly related to their major area of study and filing under one of the following three categories, are eligible to apply for an employment authorization document online:

  • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT,
  • (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT, and 
  • (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.

To file Form I-765 online, eligible F-1 students must first visit to create a USCIS online account. There is no cost to create an account, and the account offers a variety of features, including the ability to communicate with USCIS about your application through a secure inbox.

During this webinar, USCIS representatives will give an overview of the online account features and share instructions on how eligible applicants can file Form I-765 online.  

*The option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. All other applicants will continue to file the paper Form I-765.

USCIS Accommodations due to COVID-19

On February 26, USCIS announced further accommodations to assist OPT applicants who have been affected by the lockbox delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Students who received less than 12 months of OPT because of the requirement that OPT must be completed within 14 months of the program end date, may request a correction (scroll to Replace an EAD) to have their OPT end date updated to allow for 12 months, and

  • Students who had their timely filed OPT or STEM OPT applications rejected and were unable to timely refile may now resubmit their application to USCIS. This applies only to those applications that were received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021. You will not need to get a new OPT or STEM recommended I-20 as long as your original application was initially received by USCIS within the required 30 days for OPT or 60 days for STEM DSO OPT recommendation.

  • USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence rather than deny applications with missing or deficient signatures that were not rejected by the lockbox. 

What you can do:

  1. If you have timely filed an application for Post-OPT or STEM OPT and have received your receipt notice, no further action is required from you. You may continue tracking your application through the USCIS online tool.

  2. If you have timely filed your application and have not received your receipt notice, USCIS recommends that you wait eight weeks before contacting them to inquire about your case status. If you have been waiting for over 8 weeks, you may email providing your delivery receipt number as well as the date it was delivered to request an update.

  3. If you are unsure, you may contact the ISSC at

As a reminder, you can create a free USCIS online account, check the status of your case, and USCIS current processing times from your mobile device, anywhere, anytime using their case status online tool.

USCIS Lockbox experiencing delays

USCIS continues to experience delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories described in 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(3), relating to optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students. While we have made progress in addressing the delays, we would like to provide additional clarifications and reminders:

  • These delays will not affect the received date. All submissions are date stamped upon arrival at the Lockbox, so regardless of when the Lockbox processes your application, your received date will reflect the date it actually arrived at the Lockbox.
  • We will not reject applications solely because they were filed at the lockbox address in use prior to the change to the filing address instructions announced on Jan. 8, 2021. We encourage applicants filing Form I-765 to always check the form instructions on our website for the most up-to-date filing instructions.
  • If you have timely filed Form I-765 based on STEM OPT, and your post-completion OPT period expires while the application is pending, we will automatically extend the employment  authorization for 180 days. The Form I-20 endorsed by the designated school official recommending a STEM extension together with the expired Form I-766 employment authorization document (EAD) issued for post-completion OPT establishes identity and work authorization for purposes of documenting employment authorization.

What USCIS Is Doing

We are aware of the impact the delays have had on nonimmigrant students. The USCIS lockbox workforce continues to work extra hours and redistribute its workload, while maintaining COVID-19 protection measures, in order to minimize delays. Once we open and process your application, we print and mail the receipt notice. We are working to prevent receipting delays from resulting in a payment that is past its validity date. 

The USCIS Service Centers are aware of the impact of these delays and will work as quickly as possible to process Form I-765 applications for OPT. 

What You Can Do

If you have already filed your application and are waiting for your receipt notice, we appreciate your patience. Currently, we recommend that you wait eight weeks before contacting us to inquire about your case status. We are working as quickly as possible to complete the intake of all filings. As a reminder, you can create a free USCIS online accountcheck the status of your case, and our current processing times from your mobile device, anywhere, anytime using our case status online tool.

USCIS will continue to monitor this situation and will announce any additional changes on our website,

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis) and Instagram (@USCIS).

Kind regards,

Public Engagement Division
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

H-1B Lottery Results

If you are seeking the status of your H-1B petition, have your petition’s receipt number available and please contact USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, or log onto the USCIS Web page and click “Check Your Case Status” for the latest information on your petition. USCIS manages the H-1B program and is best equipped to answer your questions, not the ISSC.

If you have access to the SEVP Portal and are able to see information on end dates, and if your end date for your OPT was extended to 09/30/2020, it is likely you have made the H-1B lottery. 

If this is the case, you can ask your attorney who filed the H-1B petition for you whether they have received any information about its status. You will need the receipt number from your attorney in order to check the status with USCIS. If they have not received it yet, please wait until they do so you can check its status. 

The ISSC website has instructions regarding how to request a cap-gap I-20 in the event your OPT is ending prior to September 30, 2020. This will allow you to extend your work authorization to September 30, 2020.

Also, we highly suggest that students eligible for a STEM extension submit the application before your Post-OPT ends, if you have not done so already, as a back-up plan if you do not make the lottery or if your H-1B case gets denied. 

Employment Authorizations

As an F-1 or J-1 international student, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a variety of opportunities to be employed in the United States during and after the completion of a degree. Students must obtain the appropriate work authorization type before commencing employment. Failing to receive proper work authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 or J-1 student status.


Employment Authorization Workshop Schedule

Attending the Spring 2021 F-1 Student Webinar Series workshops on employment authorizations will assist students in understanding the eligibility requirements and application process of obtaining employment authorizations while on an F-1 student visa. This semester we will offer workshops on:

Planning your career

Let's face it. The end goal of this wonderful academic journey you are on is the perfect career. Join us to discover the many ways that ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services can help you reach your goals. They offer support with charting your career path, resumes and applications, interviewing skills, making connections, and landing your dream job.

Eligibility for off-campus work prior to graduation (Pre-OPT/CPT)

Are you thinking about an internship this semester? If so, you will need the appropriate work authorization to maintain your F-1 status. Join us to see which work authorization is best for you.

CPT application process

Congratulations! You've found your internship opportunity. Now what? Let the ISSC show you the steps to requesting your Curricular Practical Training work authorization.

Pre-OPT application process

Everything you need to know about applying for Pre-OPT, from submitting your eForm request to completing Form I-765 and even a walk-through of the supporting documents you will need to collect for the application.

Eligibility for off-campus work after graduation 

The time to put what you've learned into practice is drawing near. Join us to determine if you are eligible to apply for Post-OPT. Question-and-answer period to follow.

Eligibility for off-campus work after graduation for thesis or dissertation students

Working on your thesis or dissertation? Are you finished with all of your coursework? Is your thesis or dissertation almost completed? Are you waiting for your defense date? You may be eligible to apply for Post-OPT to begin before you defend. Join us today to find out if this is right for you!

Post-OPT application process

Everything you need to know about applying for Post-OPT, from submitting your eForm request to completing Form I-765 and even a walk-through of the supporting documents you will need to collect for the application.

Post-OPT maintaining status

You are so close to graduation and your Optional Practical Training is soon to begin. It's important for you to know what it takes to remain compliant while you are authorized for Post-OPT. This short webinar will walk you through the regulations while you are on Post-OPT. Bring your questions!

STEM extension eligibility

You might be asking yourself, "What is the STEM extension and do I qualify?" Join us as we discuss the eligibility requirements of the STEM extension. Stick around for an in-depth Q&A. Hope to see you there!

STEM application process

Join us for an in-depth look at the STEM application process. We will cover the timing of your application, USCIS requirements, Form I-983, Form I-765 and supporting documents. Be sure to bring your questions!

Maintaining status while on STEM extension

The STEM extension has complex regulations that you must follow to remain in compliance with the terms of your F-1 status. If you have plans for future U.S. non-immigrant benefits such as H-1B, it is imperative that you do not miss any of your reporting deadlines. Let us walk you through maintaining your status while you are authorized for STEM extension.


Congratulations! Your employer has applied for your H-1B. What are your options if your Post-OPT or STEM extension will expire before the Oct. 1 H-1B start date? Please join us to learn about the Cap-Gap and find out if you qualify.

Social Security number

Did you land a new job or internship? If you do not have one already, you will need to apply for a Social Security number. Join us to learn about the regulations and process on requesting one.

The Spring 2021 F-1 Student Webinar Series workshops are offered throughout the semester. If you are unable to attend at the scheduled time, don’t worry. These workshops will be posted to the ISSC YouTube channel.