Who can File Form I-765 Online?
Starting April 15th, 2021 international students on an F-1 visa are eligible to file Form I-765 online for their Optional Practical Training (OPT) under the following eligible categories:
- Pre-completion OPT
- Post-completion OPT
- 24 Month STEM OPT Extension
This option of filing Form I-765 online is exclusively for international students applying for the I-765 Employment Authorization under the above mentioned eligible categories.
All other non-immigrants applying for the I-765 Employment Authorization must mail their I-765 applications to an appropriate USICS lockbox facility or service center.
Nonimmigrants who file their I-765 applications online under a different I-765 eligible category, will be denied their application, and USCIS would retain the application fee.
How to File Form I-765 Online
To file your Form I-765 online you will need to create a free USCIS account. You can do so by signing up with an email address, after which you will receive an email from USCIS ("firstname.lastname@example.org") asking you to confirm your email address.
When creating the USCIS account, it is recommended that you use your primary email address, as all future correspondence from USCIS will be sent to this email address.
You should also consider adding this USCIS email address to your email contacts, to prevent these USCIS emails from going to your SPAM folder.
Once you create an account, you will be able to begin completing your I-765 application form.
You can watch this step-by-step video that shows you how to create a free USCIS online account and file the OPT online.
Note that your USCIS account information should not be shared with anyone else.
Benefits of Filing Form I-765 Online
The ability to complete and submit the Form I-765 application online provides so many benefits to filers such as:
- Preventing common mistakes on USCIS application forms such as missing signatures and blank spaces
- Completing your application at your own pace, with the option of saving a draft
- Offering convenient and flexible payment options that allows you to easily and securely pay your filing fee without the need to submit money orders and bank checks
- Receiving immediate confirmation on your Form I-765 submission, rather than waiting for it in the mail
- Tracking the status of your immigration case at anytime with an internet connection
- Receiving correspondences from USCIS (such as the I-797 Receipt Notice) electronically instead of waiting to receive it in the mail
- Responding quickly to a Request for Evidence (RFE) issued by USCIS
Does Filing Form I-765 Online Speed Up the USCIS Processing Time?
While submitting your I-765 application online saves you shipping time, it does not speed up the adjudication of your application.
USICS adjudicates I-765 applications received online and by mail at the same speed.
Must International Students File their OPT Online?
No, filing the Form I-765 online is optional.
Currently, USCIS still accepts paper submissions of the Form I-765 by mail.
As the option to file the I-765 application online is a new implementation from USCIS, some Designated School Officials (DSO) recommend that international students should still mail their OPT applications to USCIS.
As there might be some unanticipated technical challenges with filing the I-765 online.
Filing your OPT application online poses several advantages over submitting your OPT by mail.
To get started filing your OPT, you would need to choose your OPT start date, which will appear on your OPT EAD card.
You can use our FREE OPT Start Date Calculator tool, which makes the process of finding your best OPT start date super easy.
Whichever method you choose to file your OPT, whether online or by mail, you will ultimately need the recommendation of your Designated School Official.
Best of Luck!