U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Monday that it would expand premium processing to certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training employment authorization or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics OPT extensions.

Key Points:

  • As of today, USCIS is accepting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for certain F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of the following categories:
    • (c)(3)(A) — Pre-Completion OPT.
    • (c)(3)(B) — Post-Completion OPT.
    • (c)(3)(C) — 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
  • Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765.
  • Form I-907 can be filed via paper or online. To file Form I-907 online, applicants must first create a USCIS online account.
  • USCIS said it would adjudicate premium processing cases for F-1 students seeking OPT or STEM OPT extensions within 30 calendar days.

Background: USCIS is taking a phased approach to expanding premium processing as part of a broader effort to reduce backlogs and provide relief to foreign nationals affected by processing delays. The agency indicated in January it would extend premium processing to F-1 students seeking OPT and STEM OPT extensions. USCIS also said it would work toward expanding premium processing in May to certain student and exchange visitors with pending Forms I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and in June to student and exchange visitors filing initial Forms I-539.

BAL Analysis: The most recent expansion of premium processing is welcome news, especially because a number of F-1 students may be filing for OPT or STEM OPT extensions if their registrations are not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery later this month. USCIS is expected to continue expanding premium processing in the coming months. BAL will monitor the implementation of premium processing expansions and will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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