USCIS Announces Premium Processing for F-1 OPT
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will gradually expand its premium processing services to the F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) category in the coming weeks. This is a significant step toward improving the efficiency of the process and assisting foreign students in obtaining OPT status as soon as possible.
After completing their studies, international students can use the F-1 OPT program to gain practical work experience in the United States. The OPT program allows foreign students to work in their field of study for up to a year, with the option of extending it for an additional 24 months for students in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.
For an additional fee, USCIS offers a premium processing service for certain employment-based visa applications, allowing applicants to receive a decision on their application within 15 calendar days. The addition of the F-1 OPT category to the premium processing service means that foreign students can now pay an additional fee and receive a decision on their OPT application within 15 days, rather than waiting several months.
Beginning March 6, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for F-1 students with a pending Form I-765 in one of the following categories:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT.
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT.
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for F-1 students in the above categories when filed concurrently with Form I-765.
This new development will undoubtedly benefit international students who need their OPT status as soon as possible in order to begin their professional careers. The premium processing service will help to shorten the wait time for OPT application decisions, providing much-needed certainty for international students eager to begin their careers in the United States.
It is important to note, however, that the premium processing service is optional and does not guarantee approval. The USCIS may still require additional information or documentation from the applicant, resulting in processing time delays. Applicants should also keep in mind that the premium processing fee is non-refundable, even if their application is ultimately denied.
To summarize, the USCIS’s expansion of the premium processing service to the F-1 OPT category is a positive development that will benefit international students studying in the US. The premium processing service will help to shorten the wait time for OPT application decisions, providing much-needed certainty for international students eager to start their careers in the United States.