OPT Application Pending More than 90 Days
Typically your OPT application will take 90 to 120 days to be processed by USCIS, but for a more detailed timeline for an OPT application and approval see Optional Practical Training (OPT).
You must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card before you can begin work. Working without an endorsed I-20 for OPT and a valid EAD card for the authorized dates is a serious violation of your legal status. Doing so can result in you forfeiting your ability to remain in the U.S. and bar you from future re-entry into the U.S.
Consequently, it is extremely important that you submit your application for OPT in a timely manner.
You may establish an account with USCIS (USCIS Account). This account allows you to track your case and in particular, track the EAD once USCIS has printed and mailed it to you.
Applications Pending Longer than 90 Days from Received Date
The Bechtel International Center cannot request your application be expedited on your behalf.
You may contact the USCIS National Customer Service number 1-800-375-5283 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern) to request an expedite of your pending OPT request if you have a valid expedite reason.
To request an expedite, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Severe financial loss to company or individual.
- Humanitarian situation.
- U.S. Department of Defense or national interest situation. (Note: Request must come from an official U.S. Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to our government.)
- USCIS error.
Requesting an Expedite Due to Personal Financial Hardship
It is very difficult to receive an expedite based on financial hardship. USCIS has stated that OPT is to gain practical experience in your field of study and not to earn money for living expenses or to fund your studies.
Additionally, USCIS has provided this guidance: “F-1 students are required to establish that they have the financial ability to pay for their course of study and living expenses for the entire period of study as indicated on their I-20, thus they cannot claim financial hardship due to the very nature of their nonimmigrant status and maintenance thereof. In addition, an employment offer or start date does not qualify under USCIS's severe financial loss expedite criteria.”
After Filing an Expedite Request
USCIS emails you the response to your expedited request.
If the expedite is approved, it is normally processed within three to seven days of the request, and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) arrives within the normal mail delivery time. You may not work until your EAD arrives.
If the expedite is denied, USCIS returns your application to its queue where it was before.