Following up on their commitment to improving efficiency and reducing processing times within the immigration system, USCIS will now start accepting premium processing requests for students applying for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) under their Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) OPT. Specifically, this expansion of the premium processing program will apply to students who submit Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization seeking approval for:

  • Pre-Completion OPT;
  • Post-Completion OPT; or
  • 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.

This welcome addition to premium processing for certain F-1 students will occur in phases beginning on March 6, 2023. On that date, USCIS will accept Requests for Premium Processing Service for F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765 and are seeking authorization in the above-mentioned categories. Beginning April 3, 2023 USCIS will accept a Request for Premium Processing Service for OPT when filed concurrently with the Form I-765. These requests can be filed via paper form or online. USCIS will reject any Requests for Premium Processing Service filed by students before the above dates.

Looking towards the future, USCIS reiterated their commitment to working toward making the premium processing service available for the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This further expansion of the premium processing program is anticipated to begin in May for certain students and visitors who have pending I-539 Applications. Students and exchange visitors who are filing initial Form I-539 applications may be able to file Form I-907 requests in June. USCIS promises that the expansion of premium processing will not increase the processing times for other immigration benefit requests that are not under the premium processing program.

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