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USCIS Issues Guidance Regarding Late Issuance of I-765 Receipt Notices for OPT and STEM OPT Applications

USCIS continues to experience delays at certain lockboxes in issuing receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, relating to optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students. As such USCIS has provided the below clarifications:

  • These delays will not affect the received date. All submissions are date stamped upon arrival at the Lockbox, so regardless of when the Lockbox processes your application, your received date will reflect the date it arrived at the Lockbox.
  • They will not reject applications solely because they were filed at the lockbox address in use prior to the change to the filing address instructions announced on Jan. 8, 2021.
  • If you have timely filed Form I-765 based on STEM OPT, and your post-completion OPT period expires while the application is pending, we will automatically extend the employment authorization for 180 days. The Form I-20 endorsed by the designated school official recommending a STEM extension together with the expired Form I-766 employment authorization document (EAD) issued for post-completion OPT establishes identity and work authorization for purposes of documenting employment authorization.

What USCIS Is Doing

USCIS lockbox workforce continues to work extra hours and redistribute its workload, while maintaining COVID-19 protection measures, in order to minimize delays. Once an application is opened, a receipt notice is printed and mailed to the applicant and/or representative. USCIS has stated that they are aware of the delays and are working as quickly as possible to process applications received.

What You Can Do

If you have already filed your application and are waiting for your receipt notice, we recommend that you wait eight weeks before contacting USCIS to inquire about your case status.