USCIS is currently experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for OPT and STEM OPT applications. USCIS has acknowledged these delays and are extending some flexibility to OPT or STEM OPT applications received between October 1, 2020 and May 21, 2021.
If you applied for OPT and are concerned because your receipt notice is delayed, ISSS does NOT recommend sending a second OPT application to USCIS as this can cause complications and/or further delays for your application. Instead, we recommend that you allow four to six weeks to receive your receipt notice. If you have still not received it, email ISSS at email@example.com and we can check your SEVIS record to see if your OPT application has been received. Please keep proof that your application was delivered to USCIS.
As an F-1 student with a pending OPT/STEM OPT application, you are eligible to remain in the U.S. until your application is approved. Students who applied for STEM OPT prior to the expiration of their 12-month OPT are eligible to work for up to 180 days past their OPT EAD end date while their STEM application is pending.
If your OPT or STEM OPT application was received by USCIS between 10/1/2020 and 5/21/2021 and it is rejected (i.e., the entire application is mailed back to you by the lockbox), please contact ISSS immediately. We may be able to help you reapply even if you are outside your 60-day grace period (OPT applicants) or if your OPT EAD end date has passed (STEM OPT applicants).
If your 12-month OPT application was received between 10/1/2020 and 5/21/2021 and you were approved for significantly less than 12 months of OPT due to long processing times, you may be able to request a corrected EAD from USCIS that will grant you a full 12 months. To do this, you will need to follow USCIS’s instructions, and this includes sending your original EAD back to USCIS. It can take one to two months for USCIS to issue you a corrected EAD (possibly longer due to COVID delays).
You will not be able to travel internationally, go through a hiring process or apply for an SSN or driver’s license while you are without your original EAD, so we strongly recommend that you first use your EAD for any of these required purposes BEFORE sending it to USCIS for a correction. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how to request a corrected EAD.
You can read more about the delays and flexibility on the USCIS website: