Posted in Policy, Students, work permit or EAD at 6:00 pm by Lalita Haran

USCIS issued a policy relaxation on Friday, February 26, 2021, recognizing that some foreign nationals are adversely affected by its delayed issuance of receipt notices coming from some of its lockboxes. Receipt notices were used to be issued in 2 weeks and an electronic receipt notice within a week, it however is a thing of the past. Some employment-based adjustment applications are taking more than 90 days before obtaining the receipt notice. COVID delays and flood of applications filed with USCIS caused by the visa bulletin allowing filing of some employment-based adjustment of status applications may have contributed to USCIS receipt delays.

International students are severely affected by the receipt delays. A graduating F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) period and application must be made within the specific time period. Finally, the 12-month OPT must be completed within 14 months of graduation. However, just like the delayed issued receipt notice, OPT EAD applications could not be approved within time to allow the full 12 months of OPT period to be completed within 14 months of graduation. Consequently, the international students were not able to receive the benefit 12-month experience of the OPT.

USCIS has finally acknowledged this unfairness and the OPT policy allows the full 12-month EAD period and the 14 month period will begin from the date of approval of the OPT EAD. This is a very good remedial step. EAD applications for OPT filed between October 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021, will receive this relaxed benefit. However, many more international students were affected due to COVID-related delays and the present policy relaxation covers only applications filed starting October 1st, 2020.

Additionally, F1 students can refile rejected applications. The rejection would cause the application to be outside the rigid timeline prescribed for the OPT. Although some opt applications could have been refiled with new permission from the Designated Student Officer (DSO) obtained in a new OPT I-20. The present policy allows the applicants to refile obviating the need for a new I-20.

OPT EAD relaxation policy is at least one good step in the right direction.

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