Delayed Receipt Notices for OPT

OIPS is aware in the delay of USCIS Receipt Notice issuance from the USCIS Texas lockbox.  In a December message, USCIS stated:

The USCIS lockbox facilities have received a significant increase in filings in recent weeks. This increase, along with facility capacity restrictions necessary to protect the health and safety of the lockbox workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing significant delays for processing receipt notices. We continue to work to minimize delays. Once we process your submission, we will review your package.

If you properly filed your form, we will send a receipt notice to the mailing address provided on your form, normally within 30 days. If your submission is incomplete or improperly filed, we will reject it per current procedures. 

 

Many students have reported that despite this message, it is taking longer than 30 days to receive a receipt notice.  In response, our office has compiled some tips for managing the situation. 

Students applying for Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension

  • Keep your tracking information for the shipment of your application to USCIS. 
    • This information will show when your application was received by USCIS in case any questions come up in the future. 
    • Do not lose this information. 
  • Contact your U.S. Representative in Congress for help getting your receipt number. 
    • Find your representative here. 
  • Sign the petition 
    • Petitioning is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and applies to all persons, not just U.S. citizens. 
  • Try contacting the USCIS Lockbox email at lockboxsupport@uscis.dhs.gov 
    • It is highly likely that you will not be able to get an answer without a receipt number. 

Students applying for STEM OPT Extension only

  • Employment authorization period for a 24-month OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT employment authorization and ends 24 months thereafter, regardless of the date the actual extension is approved. (See 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv)) 
    • You can provide your employer the Code of Federal Regulations, citing the above passage to show your STEM OPT Extensions begins automatically after the end of your OPT. 
  • Students are authorized to continue employment for up to 180 days after the expiration of the post-completion OPTif they have timely and properly filea STEM OPT Extension application with USCIS. (See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C)) 
    • You can show your employer the Code of Federal Regulations, citing the above passage in combination with your tracking information to prove that you have timely and properly filed you STEMP OPT Extension application. 
  • Students should update their I-9 with their employer. 
    • You can show your expired EAD and signed STEM OPT I-20.  Your employer should enter the following information under List A in Section 2 of the I-9: 
      • EAD document title; 
      • EAD document number; 
      • Date the EAD expired in the expiration date space; and 
      • “180-day ext.” in the Additional Information field. 
    • If your employer has additional questions about what kinds of documentation are acceptable for I-9 purposes during the 180-day period, they can visit the USCIS Form M-274 Handbook for Employers or USCIS I-9 Q&A. 
  • Additionally, resources for you and your employer regarding STEM OPT are found at the STEM OPT HUB.