As per USCIS news, starting from April 12th, 2021, they started to accept online form for OPT, STEM OPT extensions filed by F1 visa students. USCIS organized an online webinar to explained the process and clarify many of the common questions. As there is no recording available for public, we have compiled all the common questions answered by USCIS in this article.
Process to apply I-765 form Online for OPT, STEM OPT
You can apply for OPT application online using form I-765, if you fall under one of the three categories:
- During Study : Pre-completion OPT with category code (c)(3)(A) is used by F1 students while studying, before completing their degree.
- After Graduation : Post-completion OPT with category code (c)(3)(B) is used by F1 students after graduation or completing their degree.
- STEM Category OPT Extension : 24 Months STEM OPT Extension with category code (c)(3)(C) is used by F1 students applying for 24 month OPT extension, who are part of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.
The process to apply for OPT application is very straightforward, you need to register an USCIS account, submit scan copies of passport, I-20s, photos and other required documents and pay the fee. Read How to apply for I-765 form online for OPT, STEM OPT for step-by-step guide with screenshots.
Common FAQs for filing F1 OPT, STEM OPT using I-765 form Online
F1 students have the option to file I-765 either online or using paper forms. There is no mandatory rule that says that OPT and STEM OPT extension applications have to be filed online only starting from April 12th, 2021.
No, you cannot file the online application again. If you file another one again, it will be considered duplicated and denied. Instead, you can add your paper based filed form in USCIS account using the options under My Account >> Add a paper-filed case
Yes, the online system will generate a Case Number for the I-765 form submission and you can download the receipt notice as well.
Three OPT Categories are eligible to file I-765 form online : C3A, C3B, C3C. You can also check complete list of USCIS EAD Category Codes
You can upload a scanned photo as long as it meets the requirements. It has to be recent 2 inches x 2 inches color passport photo, whole face must be visible and meet US Dept of State Photo Requirements. It must be a JPG, JPEG or PNG file
You can pay using Credit Card, Debit Card or using ACH payment for Saving or Checking account using bank routing number and other details . The payments are managed by Pay.gov website.
Yes, USCIS will send a physical copy of receipt notice to the address given during application process. Also, the applicant can download the soft copy after submission and will have access to all case related notices and forms that are mailed to applicant.
Yes, attorney can file the OPT application online on behalf of an F1 student using their account as representative.
Yes, you can submit the correct document as unsolicited evidence for the USCIS officer to consider it as evidence, if it was done as mistake.
No, the processing times are not going to be faster for OPT applications filed online. It is only the receipt number generation and getting a copy of receipt earlier are the key advantages.
Besides getting the receipt number immediately, certain checks are done during submission process to ensure that all required documents are submitted by applicants. Due to this, there will be less rejections due to incompleteness of application.
There is no specific limit on total count of files you can upload. The only limit is you can upload up to 5 documents at one time and each document cannot be over 6 MB. You can upload multiple I-20s or additional documents as many as you can.
In general, OPT application filed with USCIS does not require biometrics. It is only on a case by case basis, some may be issued appointment for Biometrics.
No, you cannot sign digitally online for i-20s, you need to sign them physically and upload the scan copies only.
If your information is long and cannot fit in space given for name or other field, you can add them under additional information section.
No need to have the same email ID. They can be different email IDs.
The system will not allow you to submit the application without evidence. So, you need to submit them as part of the application. You cannot submit them later.
USCIS will only send notification on the changes, but applicant has to login to view the I-765. application related changes.
No, there are no refunds. You need to apply for I-765 form online, only if you are eligible and fall under the given categories of OPT and STEM OPT extension.
Yes, all the documents that are related to the OPT application like Receipt notice, RFE notices, and decisions will be available in online account. Also, USCIS will send a paper copy as well.
No, the fees is same. It is $410 USD and same as the paper based filing
What do you think of filing OPT application online ? Any other questions ? Ask or share your comments below…