On March 6, 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would start offering premium processing services for F1 students applying for OPT (Optional Practical Training) and STEM OPT (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Optional Practical Training). This new option is meant to expedite the processing of these visa applications, which is especially useful for individuals who are facing a time crunch due to impending job offers or deadlines.
Online filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, is now also available to F1 students in these categories. Paper versions of this form by mail will still be accepted as well.
Previously, premium processing was only available for certain types of employment-based visas, such as the H1B visa. However, with this new option, F1 OPT and STEM OPT applicants will be able to pay an additional fee of $1,500 for their applications to be processed within 30 days. This is a significant improvement over the standard processing time, which currently can take between 2 to 3 months.
To be eligible for premium processing, F1 OPT and STEM OPT applicants must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and meet the following requirements:
- The application must be properly filed and all necessary supporting documents must be included.
- The applicant must have a pending or approved Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, that shows the recommendation for OPT.
- The applicant must not have previously submitted a request for premium processing for the same Form I-765.
NoteTo be eligible for F1 OPT and STEM OPT premium processing on March 6, 2023, you must already have a pending Form I-765. Beginning April 3, 2023, USCIS will begin accepting Form I-907 requests when filed together with Form I-765.
It’s important to remember that premium processing does not guarantee approval of an application, nor does it guarantee that it will be processed within the 30-day timeframe. However, USCIS does promise to either approve the application, issue a request for evidence (RFE), or deny the application within 30 days of receipt.
This new option is a welcome development for foreign students who are seeking employment opportunities in the United States. F1 OPT and STEM OPT visas allow students to work for up to 12 months (with an additional 24 months for STEM OPT) in their field of study, providing valuable experience and potentially leading to future employment opportunities in the US.
For more information regarding the new premium processing available for student visas, visit the USCIS website.