Tips for F-1 Students to Avoid OPT Delays

Are you an F-1 student in the U.S. considering applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)? Understanding the process of applying for employment authorization can be daunting, especially when it comes to dealing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This blog post offers you invaluable tips on how to avoid USCIS processing delays when filing your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Check USCIS’ Website for Updates

Before submitting your Form I-765, always check the USCIS website for any updates. USCIS frequently updates its forms, filing guidance, fees, and filing locations. Not keeping up-to-date can result in your form being rejected. You can also sign up for USCIS’ form update emails to get notified about changes directly.

Importance of Form I-20

Ensure that your Form I-20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is signed, dated, and endorsed for employment authorization. Your Designated School Official (DSO) must sign and date the School Attestation section on the first page of the form.

Benefits of Applying Online

When applying, consider doing it online for several advantages:

Faster Receipt: Online submissions reach USCIS faster than paper forms.

Immediate Receipt Number: You’ll get an electronic receipt number right away.

Document Tracking: All notices like request for evidence or decision notice are available in your USCIS online account.

Automatic Case Updates: Sign up to get case updates via email or text.

Easy Address Update: You can effortlessly update your mailing and physical address through your online account.

Timing is Crucial

Submit your Form I-765 within the designated timeframe depending on the type of OPT you are applying for:

Post-Completion OPT: Submit within 30 days after your DSO enters the recommendation into your SEVIS record.

STEM OPT: Submit within 60 days after your DSO makes the recommendation in SEVIS.

Always confirm the date your DSO entered the recommendation in your SEVIS record as it is not indicated on Form I-20.

Submit Forms Together

Always submit a properly completed Form I-20 together with Form I-765. You can upload the Form I-20 while filing Form I-765 online. Failure to include a signed and properly endorsed Form I-20 may result in a denial of your Form I-765 application.

Update Your Address with USCIS and USPS

If you move, make sure to update your address with both USCIS and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Note that changing your address with USPS will not automatically update it with USCIS. Also, display your name prominently on your mailbox, as USPS will not deliver your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if your name is not listed.


Following these tips will put you in a better position to avoid any hiccups during your Form I-765 processing with USCIS. It’s always better to be proactive and informed when it comes to immigration matters, especially something as critical as your F-1 OPT.