OPT and STEM Extension Processing Updates

Regarding Receipt Notice Delays and Current Processing Times for OPT and STEM Extension Applications

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Dear International Community,

Estimated time range Form type  Receipt date for a case inquiry
1.5 Months to 4 Months Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)] October 04, 2020

Based on the data above, we will approach USCIS if you did not receive your EAD within 4 months after your Receipt date.

For Standard Post-Completion OPT Applications

For now, the most advice we can give is for you to have carrier proof of delivery of your OPT application to USCIS' lockbox, in case there are any discrepancies between the application received date on the receipt notice once the receipt notice is issued, if it will potentially impact the decision of the application. Hopefully you have a record of what you submitted, and there is nothing with the application that will potentially cause any reasons for rejection.

Please contact us if you did not receive your EAD after 4 months the date USCIS received your application.

For STEM OPT Applications

As long as your STEM OPT extension is timely filed (properly delivered to USCIS before the expiration of your current OPT EAD card), you benefit from an automatic extension of your work authorization while the extension application is pending with USCIS for up to 180 days after the expiration of the current card.

  • USCIS addresses this in their FAQ
  • Similarly, it is codified in the immigration regulations at: 8 CFR § 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C)
  • Your employer's I-9 obligations are explained in I-9 Central and the evidence section of the M-274 Handbook For Employers
  • You may show your employer the USCIS issued I-797C, Receipt Notice for the extension if you wish, but it is not required. Your employer can legally verify your continued authorization using the following documents:
    • Current (expired) OPT EAD Card
    • STEM OPT I-20 (with new validity dates) issued by our office at the time of your application

Please keep in mind that I-9 consideration and continued work is between you and your employer.

Some F1 students are thinking it is a good idea to cancel the current OPT application, then submit a new OPT application. OIS officials believe this is a very unwise choice and we strongly advise against it.  However, since this application is yours, contact OIS if you wish to investigate this option.

Again, the best advice is to be patient,  keep in touch with us, as we will be able to let you know if there are any further developments on our end, and contact us if you have waited more than 4 months for USCIS’ response.

OIS will continue to work remotely for the near term while monitoring your need for in-person assistance. The Office has an electronic process for you to request individual advisement sessions through Zoom or telephonically.

You may reach members of the OIS team at our personal email address or through our general office email of [email protected]. We are here to serve you.


Salvatore C. Longarino
Office for International Services
Fordham University