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International Student Services

USCIS Announcement: OPT Applications Can Be Filed Online

On 4/12/2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can now file their form I-765 online if filling under the pre-completion, post-completion and the STEM extension categories. For the full news release, please visit the USCIS website.

At this time, International Student Services is learning about the online filing experience of the form I-765 along with you. We have gathered the following important information for you from a webinar and directly from the USCIS website:

  • An online filing of the form I-765 requires the creation of an individual USCIS online account at This free account allows you to:
      • submit the I-765 form along with any additional documentation that is requested
      • pay your fee
      • track the status of your case
      • communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox
      • respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE)
  • This online filing opportunity is available to F-1 students applying for pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT, and STEM extension. It is not being offered for any other I-765 employment authorization applications.
  • It’s possible that the online filing process will be faster than the mailing filing process. At this time, we do not know what the processing timeline will look like for online filing.
  • USCIS continues to accept applications by mail.
  • If you send your application by mail, you can still create an online account and track your application with many of the same benefits that the online application provides.


Does this change anything with the OPT request process at UofSC?

You will still need to request an OPT I-20 through the International Student Services office. We suggest reviewing steps 1-3 here as well as reviewing the OPT workshop. The USCIS e-filing platform requires you to create a personal account. You will use this personal account to upload all of your documents. While ISS does not have personal experience with the new online filing option, we are looking forward to learning more about this process in the next coming months.

As a reminder, the OPT application is a personal application. It is your decision on how you file the application. While this is a very exciting change that will hopefully ease the OPT process for the future, you are still welcome to send your application by mail. ISS advisors are available Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-3pm on online chat, and through scheduled appointments outside of online advising hours if you have any additional questions.

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