Foreign Students Seeking Optional Practical Training Can Now File for Employment Authorization Online
- Eligible F-1 students who receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT.
Foreign students on F-1 visa seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file for Employment Authorization in three different categories, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced April 12. The three categories include: (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT; (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.
According to educationdata.org, in 2019, the total number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges was 1,095,299, making up 5.5 percent of the total U.S. student body. China sent the most students for higher studies to the U.S. — 369,548 — followed by India, which ranked at the second spot with 202,014 students. In 2019, 223,085 students applied for OPT, a 9.6 percent increase from 2018.
Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion), the agency said. Eligible F-1 students who receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT.
“USCIS remains committed to maximizing our online filing capabilities,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of USCIS Director Tracy Renaud. “The I-765 online filing option allows eligible students to file forms online in a more user-friendly fashion and increases efficiencies for adjudicators.”
The option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT The USCIS notes that as it “continues to transition to paperless operations, the agency will work to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories.”
Individuals can file 11 USCIS forms online, which can all be found on the Forms Available to File Online page (https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/forms-available-to-file-online). To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.gov.
USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail.