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USCIS Continues Extension of Flexibilites to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT

The following message was emailed on 8/13/2021 to students with a pending or requested OPT application as well as to all students with an I-20 end date prior to 2/1/2022.

You are receiving this email because the Office of International Services (OIS) recently issued you an I-20 with an OPT or STEM OPT recommendation and your request is still in Pending or Requested status OR because you have an I-20 with an end date prior to 2/1/2022 and you may be eligible to apply for OPT in the coming months.

As a result of a recent court order, USCIS is extending prior flexibilities to some OPT and STEM applicants. Please carefully review the full USCIS statement online.

The flexibilities for students who are in the process of applying for OPT or STEM OPT include:

• Providing students with a full 12-month period of OPT even if the OPT end date will extend beyond the allowed period of 14 months after the end of the student’s program. This provision also allows students with an approved period of less than 12 months to request a corrected EAD with a new end date. This is a continuation of USCIS’s February 26, 2021 flexibility.

• Allowing students whose initial application was rejected between 10/1/20 and 10/31/21 to reapply even if it’s beyond the required application timeframe as long as the refiled application is received by USCIS by 11/30/21. A new I-20 from OIS is not required when reapplying. This is a continuation of USCIS’s February 26, 2021 flexibility but extends the refiling deadline from 5/31/21 to 11/30/21.

• Issuing a request for evidence (RFE) for applications that have been receipted and have missing or deficient signatures instead of denying the application. This is a continuation of USCIS’s February 26, 2021 flexibility.

The flexibilities for students who are planning to apply for OPT include:

• A new provision in USCIS’s July 29, 2021 alert appears to allow all students applying for the initial 12 months of OPT to file their applications with USCIS up to 120 days before their program end date instead of the usual filing timeframe of 90 days before the program end date. This applies to applications received by USCIS through 10/31/21. It does not apply to students filing an I-765 for the OPT STEM Extension, those students are still required to submit their application to USCIS within the 90-day period preceding the end date of their OPT.

If you believe you are eligible for one of the flexibilities being afforded by USCIS, please reach out to us at [email protected] to discuss your situation. It is important that OIS is aware of your plans so we can advise you and help ensure that your F-1 SEVIS record is properly updated.

If you have not applied for OPT and are interested in doing so, you must meet the standard OPT eligibility requirements detailed on our website. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions about OPT eligibility after reviewing the website.

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