On April 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 foreign students can now file applications for optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization online.

This is a significant benefit for F-1 students. Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail.

F-1 foreign students 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.

The option to file Form I-765 online is only available to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request employment authorization for a different employment authorization category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee.

Warning: There are many strict rules and filing deadlines associated with an application for OPT employment authorization.  F-1 students must continue to work closely with their Designated School Official (DSO) to assemble the proper documentation and meet required filing deadlines.

In order to file an I-765 online, applicants must first create a USCIS online account.  USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail.