USCIS to Accept Electronic I-765 OPT EAD Applications
The USCIS is modernizing its processes and moving towards electronic filing for student work documents. On April 12, 2021, USCIS announced that it will begin accepting Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (“EAD”) from F-1 students transitioning to Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) employment via its online filing system. USCIS will accept online applications for pre-degree completion OPT, post-degree completion OPT, and the 24-month extension available to students with STEM degrees.
The principal advantage of electronic filing is time. Prior to this announcement, students were required to submit their immigration benefit applications on paper. USCIS staff would then process this paper application using computers to adjudicate the application and produce the employment authorization card. By utilizing the online filing system, students seeking OPT EAD cards skip the paper step and enter their data directly into USCIS’ filing system.
USICS’ notoriously slow paper-based adjudication system would occasionally create an employment authorization gap for F-1 students and their employer. F-1 students that work as a part of their school’s curriculum and wish to continue to work after graduation are occasionally forced to stop working upon the expiration of their curricular-based employment authorization to wait for USCIS to issue an EAD card. This wait will be minimized or eliminated with the implementation of the online filing system.
F-1 students wishing to utilize USCIS’ online filing system to file Form I-765 should create an account at https://myaccount.uscis.gov/users/sign_up. Students and employers with questions on the mechanics of USCIS’ online filing system or eligibility for an OPT EAD should seek counsel from a competent immigration attorney or the Designated School Official at the student’s school. If you are an employer with a question about immigration matters, please contact Richard Green, Chair of CDF's Immigration Practice Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.