Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
F-1 students who are in the United States may file the Form I-765 to request certain employment authorizations and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS (a government agency within the department of Homeland Security) will review your I-765 application and issue your OPT or STEM OPT EAD card.
If you are applying for Pre- or Post-Completion OPT: Your I-765 application MUST be approved by USCIS and you must have your EAD before you begin working. Additionally, you cannot begin working until the start date listed on your EAD.
If you are applying for 24-Month STEM Extension of OPT: You can continue working up to 180 days after your current Post-Completion OPT EAD expires if you have an I-765 application pending with USCIS.
If you sent your application to USCIS within the required application window, then you may continue working for your STEM OPT employer while your STEM OPT Extension application is pending with USCIS for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT EAD Card.
If your STEM OPT application is still pending for more than 180 days beyond the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT, you MUST stop working.
Employment after day 180 is not authorized under 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv) if USCIS has not adjudicated the STEM OPT application by day 180.
It could be a Receipt Notice: These are usually sent within 4 to 6 weeks from when USCIS receives the I-765 application and is sent to the address listed on Form I-765. You can use the Receipt Number to check the status of your application.
It could be a Request for Evidence (RFE): If USCIS wants more information in order to make a decision, they can send a request for evidence (RFE). Often they ask the student to provide documentation of having maintained a full course of study and questions about the use of CPT and any prior OPT. Contact ISSS as soon as possible so we can help you respond to the RFE. If you filed online, you can use your USCIS account to respond to the RFE.
It could be a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID): Do not panic! Your application has not be denied yet. Contact ISSS as soon as possible so we can help you respond to the NOID.
It could be an Approval Notice: The EAD card is usually attached to the approval notice.
It could be a Rejection Notice or Denial Notice: Contact ISSS immediately. We will try to help as much as we can, but you may also need to consult an immigration attorney.
You need to double check the mailing address on the Form I-765 and open an inquiry with the USCIS Contact Center using the USCIS Self Service Online Tool. When USCIS receives the returned card from USPS, they will re-issue the card to the updated address.
You should allow 21 days for the card to be returned to USCIS, and an additional 30 days for reissuance before re-inquiring with USCIS.
If you still have not received your EAD card 30 additional days after the second inquiry, you will need to contact USCIS for proof that the card has been returned to USCIS and then can file with the USCIS Ombudsman to escalate reissuance.
This is a last resort and you must have exploited all other options beforehand.
If all else fails, apply for a replacement EAD card:
You will need to send a new Form I-765 and another filing fee to USCIS.
We recommend you also send copies of your previous I-797 approval notice and your I-20 with previous OPT recommendation with the application.
You should receive the receipt notice for the replacement within 90 days.
If you are still within your application window it is possible to reapply. However, if your application window has passed then unfortunately you will not be able to do OPT.
These applications are returned by the USCIS Lockbox prior to processing, are not considered properly filed, and do not establish or retain a filing date.
Common reasons: Form not filled out completely, signature is missing or incorrect, and fee is incorrect. If your I-765 Application is rejected, USCIS will send you a rejection notice.
These applications have undergone review by a USCIS adjudicator, and the adjudicator has found the applicant ineligible for benefits.
If USCIS denies the OPT application, it should indicate the reason for denial in a written notice sent to the student.
There is no formal appeal for OPT denial, but you can discuss with an immigration attorney whether a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision may be warranted in your case. Challenging a denial of an OPT application cannot be filed by ISSS.
If the student wishes to file a motion, it must be filed within 30 days from the date of the decision(not the date he or she received the denial notice).
Only needed if applying for 24-month STEM OPT based on a prior degree – meaning it’s a different degree than the one used for your 12-month OPT.
You’ll need to upload evidence that the school that granted your STEM degree is currently accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and certified by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP)
If the previous degree was from Texas A&M, accreditation can be found on the transcript key included with your official Texas A&M transcript.
Unofficial transcripts do not have accreditation information
If the degree is from a different university, check your official transcript to see if it includes accreditation information. If it does not, you’ll need to check the school’s website or contact them for proof of accreditation.