The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that premium processing for certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT extensions will be expanded.
This change is expected to simplify the immigration process for international students.
What is F-1 Student Visa?
The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution, or to participate in a language training programme.
Premium Processing for Certain F-1 Students
Beginning on March 6, USCIS has started accepting requests for premium processing for certain F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The expansion of premium processing will occur in phases. F-1 students requesting premium processing should not file before the specified dates.
The following categories of F-1 students are eligible for premium processing:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and
- (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.
USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a pending Form I-765 if received before March 6. It will also reject any premium processing request for an initial or concurrently filed Form I-765 that is received before April 3.
Online Filing for Form I-907
For F-1 students in the eligible categories, USCIS now accepts online submissions of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
An applicant must first create a USCIS online account in order to submit forms, pay fees, and track the status of any pending USCIS immigration request throughout the adjudication process.
Applicants who previously filed a paper Form I-765 and wish to file Form I-907 online to request premium processing should refer to the USCIS Account Access Notice they received for the Online Access Code and instructions on how to link their paper-filed cases to their online account; otherwise, they will be unable to file Form I-907 online and must file a paper Form I-907 with the Chicago lockbox.
Efforts to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Burdens
The expansion of premium processing is part of USCIS’s efforts to improve efficiency and reduce the overall burden on the immigration system.
The expansion is being implemented in stages by USCIS. With the addition of Form I-907, the total number of forms available for online filing now stands at 16. By mail, USCIS continues to accept the most recent paper versions of all forms.
USCIS Director’s Statement
“The availability of premium processing for certain F-1 students, in addition to the ease of online filing, will streamline the immigration experience for a great many international students,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.
“The ongoing expansion of online filing is a priority for USCIS as we continue to create operational efficiencies and increase access to the immigration system for stakeholders, applicants, petitioners, requestors, and those we serve.”