U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can file their Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, electronically if they are filing in certain categories.  


Online filing is now permitted for Pre-Completion OPT, Post-Completion OPT and a 24-Month Extension of OPT for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations.  

The OPT program allows undergraduate and graduate students in F-1 status to work in the U.S. for up to one year (three years for graduates in STEM fields) during their educational program and after graduation. 

The option to file Form I-765 electronically is only available for F-1 students who are filing Form I-765 for OPT. The agency has indicated that it will deny applications and retain associated fees for individuals who submit Form I-765 electronically to request employment authorization on or after April 15, 2021 but are eligible for another employment authorization category.  

What Should Applicants Know?  

Individuals can file their applications online at the USCIS website. Accounts are free to set up, and once created, applicants can submit all forms, pay their application fee, track their case status, respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and communicate with USCIS.  

Along with online applications, USCIS will also continue accepting current versions of F-1 applications by mail.  

Looking Ahead  

USCIS is gradually transitioning to online filing for more of its applications, including additional Form I-765 categories. Envoy and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) will continue to provide updates as they become available.  

Originally published 15 April 2021

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