uscis opt lockbox receipt delays flexibilities

4 Major Flexibilities for OPT, STEM OPT Applicants Due to Lockbox Receipt Notice Delays

USCIS announces three major benefits (they call it flexibilities) due to delay in issuance of receipt notices for form I-765 form.

  1. USCIS will approve OPT for request duration from the date or approval
  2. Applicants who received EAD for less than 12 months validity can request a corrected EAD
  3. Applicants can refile rejected OPT applications before May 32, 2021 if  it was filed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021
  4. USCIS will send RFE for application accepted with Missing or Deficient Signatures

When I hosted the webinar with Immigration attorney Murali, I asked the question about #1 and #2.

He said they USCIS is unlikely to allow full 12 months OPT due to processing delays. But, USCIS have surprised everyone with this move.

I’m not sure if this is due to Biden Administration or OPT Receipt Delays Lawsuits or USCIS helping applicants facing delays.

It’s not easy being USCIS and not easy being applicant due to pandemic.

Applicants really did not have a choice and USCIS made this decision to offer these benefits (aka flexibilities).

Here’s the actual press release from USCIS.

I’m curious why USCIS did not mention STEM OPT. I’m guessing STEM OPT did not have such limits (like 14 month rule for OPT) and USCIS will issue full 24 months when they approve it.

I can almost hear following comments from OPT applicants:

I lost my job offer due to OPT Delay.

I stopped working because it’s been more than 180 days of pending STEM OPT applications

These 4 changes announced by USCIS does not address the above issues.

Next Steps:

  1. If your received EAD with less than requested duration, then request new EAD card under “USCIS Error”
  2. If you are waiting fo EAD receipt notice, continue to wait
  3. If you are waiting for EAD card approval, continue to wait
  4. If OPT application was Denied between the allowed period, refile again.

As always, discuss your case with an Attorney and make sure you get it right and do it right.


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