Foreign Students in the U.S. Applying for Work Authorization (EADs): Tips from the USCIS Ombudsman

On September 18, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman’s Office published a handy tip sheet aimed at F-1 international students. The purpose – to assist them in sidestepping potential delays in the adjudication process for Form I-765, better known as Applications for Employment Authorization.

This informative tip sheet is a valuable resource for F-1 students, offering a roadmap to ensure their Form I-765 experiences a smoother journey through the application process. Here’s a breakdown of the key recommendations:

  1. Stay Informed: The tip sheet emphasizes the importance of keeping an eye on the USCIS’ official website before submitting Form I-765. Regularly checking for updates and relevant information can help students stay on top of any changes or requirements.
  2. Proper Documentation: To avoid hiccups, its crucial for F-1 students to ensure that their Designated School Official (DSO) has meticulously completed and signed Form I-20, also known as the Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This form should accompany their Form I-765 submission.
  3. Go Digital: The USCIS tends to process online applications more swiftly. Therefore, if feasible, students are encouraged to submit their applications online. This can help reduce processing times and minimize potential delays.
  4. Timing Matters: Timing is everything when it comes to Form I-765 submissions. F-1 students should aim to submit their applications within specific windows. For those applying for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, a 30-day window following their DSO’s recommendation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is advisable. Meanwhile, students seeking a STEM Optional Practical Training Extension should aim for submission within 60 days of the relevant SEVIS recommendation.
  5. Keep Addresses Updated: Keeping contact information up to date is a small yet crucial detail. F-1 students should ensure that both USCIS and the U.S. Postal Service have their current mailing addresses. This simple step can prevent miscommunication and ensure that important documents reach them without delay.

In conclusion, this tip sheet serves as a valuable resource for F-1 students, offering practical guidance to navigate the intricate process of Form I-765. By staying informed, ensuring proper documentation, embracing online submissions, adhering to recommended timelines, and keeping addresses current, F-1 students can significantly enhance their chances of a smoother application process and avoid unnecessary delays.

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