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F-1 Student OPT Applications Can Now Be Filed Electronically

On April 12, 2021 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online if they are filing under one of these categories:

  • (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. 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). Eligible F-1 students who receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT if they have an offer of employment with an employer that is registered with E-Verify.

Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case electronically, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail. For now, the option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT and is not available for any other category of Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS warns applicants who file electronically seeking employment authorization in a different immigration category, that it will deny the application, but keep the filing fee. As USCIS continues to transition to paperless operations, the agency will work to expand online filing for Form I-765 to additional categories.

Individuals can now file 11 USCIS forms online, which can all be found on the Forms Available to File Online page of the USCIS website. To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at This free account allows them to:

  • Submit their forms;
  • Pay their fees;
  • Track the status of their case;
  • Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; and
  • Respond to Requests for Evidence.

USCIS continues to accept hard copy filings by mail using the latest version of the I-765 form.

For more information on filing F-1 OPT applications electronically, please contact your Mintz immigration attorney.


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Susan J. Cohen

Member / Founder and Chair Emeritus, Immigration Practice

Susan J. Cohen is Chair of Mintz's Immigration Practice and a nationally recognized Immigration lawyer. She helps corporate clients manage immigration challenges. Susan is an American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) member and she's contributed to state and federal immigration regulations.