OPT: USCIS announces new premium processing expansion for certain F-1 students seeking OPT and STEM OPT extension
ONLINE PREMIUM PROCESS FOR OPT CARDS
- Online filing of Form I-907 for an OPT card now available for these F-1 students.
- Expansion will occur in phases, with specific start dates for different categories.
- Premium processing will streamline the immigration experience for many international students.
- Online filing increases operational efficiency and access to the immigration system.
- Online filing available for 16 forms, with more than 1.8 million filed online in FY 2022.
- Links: Forms Available to File Online
- Phase 1: Beginning March 6, USCIS accepts Form I-907 requests (paper or online) for F-1 students with pending Form I-765 in the following categories:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
- Phase 2: Starting April 3, USCIS accepts Form I-907 requests (paper or online) for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765.
- Premium processing requests for pending Form I-765 will be rejected if received before March 6.
- Premium processing requests for initial or concurrently filed Form I-765 will be rejected if received before April 3.
- To file Form I-907 online, create a USCIS online account for secure submissions, fee payments, and case tracking.
- Applicants with a paper-filed Form I-765 can file Form I-907 online using the Online Access Code provided by USCIS.
- Premium processing expansion is part of USCIS’ efforts to increase efficiency and reduce burdens on the immigration system.
- USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou emphasizes the importance of online filing in creating operational efficiencies and increasing access to the immigration system.
- USCIS online account is free to set up and offers features like secure inbox communication and responding to Requests for Evidence online.
- Applicants must link their paper-filed cases to their online account using the USCIS Account Access Notice, or else they will need to file a paper Form I-907 with the Chicago lockbox.
- The phased approach to premium processing expansion helps USCIS manage the increase in efficiency and reduce potential burdens on the immigration system.
- In FY 2022, there was a 53% increase in online filings compared to FY 2021, demonstrating the growing preference for digital submissions.
- USCIS continues to accept the latest paper versions of all forms by mail for those unable or unwilling to use the online system.
- The premium processing expansion and online filing improvements are part of USCIS’ ongoing commitment to enhancing the immigration experience for all stakeholders, applicants, petitioners, requestors, and those served by the agency.
- USCIS is actively working to expand its online services and resources, making the immigration process more user-friendly and efficient.
- The increase in online filings shows a growing trend towards digitalization in the immigration system, which benefits both applicants and USCIS.
- The expansion of premium processing to F-1 students seeking OPT and STEM OPT extensions aims to improve processing times and deliver quicker decisions for these applicants.
- By utilizing online filing, applicants can save time and resources while maintaining accurate tracking of their case progress.
- USCIS plans to continue implementing new features and improvements to its online services, making the immigration process more accessible and efficient for all involved.
- The ongoing growth and enhancement of USCIS’ online platform represent a significant step towards a more streamlined and modernized immigration system.
An Optional Practical Training (OPT) card, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that grants F-1 international students temporary authorization to work in the United States. The OPT card allows eligible students to gain practical work experience in their field of study for a specific duration, typically up to 12 months.
To be eligible for OPT, students must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university and have completed at least one academic year of full-time study. After receiving approval for OPT, students will receive their EAD card, which contains their photograph, personal information, and the validity period for their work authorization.
There are two types of OPT:
- Pre-Completion OPT: This allows students to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year or full-time during vacations, before completing their degree program.
- Post-Completion OPT: This allows students to work full-time after completing their degree program. The work authorization is typically valid for 12 months, but students in certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a 24-month extension, known as STEM OPT.