Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application Process Goes Online For F1- VISA Students
The year gone by has been tumultuous, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every aspect of our existence, more so, leaving an unending sense of uncertainty in the lives of students. The impact is more visible on those students pursuing their higher educational journeys in the US – under the F1 visa. As a result, Monday’s (April 12, 2021) announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services facilitating F1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) to file I-765 online – comes across a welcome change for students in various stages of their academic programs.
Let us understand what Form I – 765, Application for Employment Authorization means and the eligible student categories that can benefit and fast-track their OPT application process from this path-breaking announcement.
OPT is an integral aspect of F1 students’ academic pursuits facilitating them to gain hands-on work experience during the following stages of their education in the US :
1. Pre-completion of the undergrad/grad studies
2. Post-completion of their undergrad/grad studies
3. STEM students can avail of 24 month extension while pursuing OPT in their respective fields of studies
OPT being a temporary mode of employment facilitates students to avail of 12 months training in the pre-completion or post completion phase of their respective academic engagements. Additionally, students with STEM degrees have the advantage of extending their training period by 24 months upon completing their respective OPT stints successfully.
The advantage of online application are as follows:
1. Students can check the status of their application anytime remotely
2. Students can receive related notifications from USCIS promptly without waiting endlessly for email/postal communications
3. The entire process is fast and secure saving valuable time for all the stakeholders concerned: applicants and employees
The process of online form creation is as follows :
1. Applicants need to create an account on https://myaccount.uscis.gov/
2. Using this free account applicants can submit their forms, make payments, track the status of their applications, communicate with
USCIS officials through a secure inbox and respond to any request for evidence promptly
However, it is important to note that the option of filing Form I-765 online is available for F1 students opting for OPT only. As a result, USCIS shall not only deny application to students applying for Form I-765 on or after April 15,2021, but also retain the application fees.
USCIS’ commitment to providing students with a secure and seamless educational experience through the online filing of Form I- 765 is a pioneering step in the direction of advocating contactless and paperless administration of academic facilities and training services. This is definitely a cause for celebration for current applicants as well as future study abroad students!