While your OPT Application is Pending
Once you have your new I-20 with the OPT recommendation, you will prepare and mail you application as detailed in our OPT mailing instructions. ISSO recommends making a copy of your entire OPT application, including photos and check, prior to mailing, and sending your OPT application using a trackable shipping method. Keep the copy of your application and the tracking number for your package for your records.
Approximately 2 – 3 weeks after your application is received, you will receive and I-797 Notice of Action in the mail with your receipt number and the date your application was received. Most OPT applications are approved within approximately 3 months of the date the application was received, and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) will be mailed to the mailing address on your I-765 via USPS with a tracking number. If you will not be living at this address for at least 3 – 5 months after you mail your OPT application, make sure that someone at this address will be available to receive mail on your behalf.
The information below explains common issues that students face after mailing their OPT applications and how to address those issues.
I changed my mind and don’t want to apply for OPT any more. What should I do?
The ISSO may be able to assist you with canceling your OPT recommendation before you mail your OPT application to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Please email your ISSO Advisor to request the cancellation. Please note that if your application has already been mailed, then you must instead follow the Withdrawal of OPT After Mailing instructions below.
My OPT application was already received by USCIS. How do I cancel my OPT?
You may request to withdraw your OPT application only before it is approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the withdrawal is completed in a timely manner you may be able to retain eligibility for OPT at the same academic level. You will not receive a refund of the OPT filing fee.
Your request to USCIS for withdrawal of your I-765 OPT application should include:
- A signed and dated letter from you requesting that your OPT application be withdrawn
- A copy of your OPT receipt notice (Form I-797)
To officially request OPT withdrawal, you will need to submit the above documents directly by mail to USCIS. You will mail the request to the USCIS Service Center where your application is being processed. This address is listed on the I-797 receipt notice for your OPT application. We recommend that you send using a trackable method (ex. USPS Certified Mail). As a courtesy, your ISSO Advisor can provide a template for your letter, and if you wish, will email a copy of your documents to USCIS on your behalf. ISSO sending a courtesy e-mail with your withdrawal request is not a substitute for you mailing the official request to the USCIS.
Keep the original receipt notice and a copy of withdrawal letter for your records. Once your request to withdraw has been processed, you will receive an official withdrawal notice from USCIS. You will keep the withdrawal notice in your records as a part of your immigration history, as you may need to include is with any future immigration applications.
How can I change my mailing address with USCIS once my OPT application is pending?
If you need to change your address after your OPT application has been received but before it has been approved, you may use the USCIS online tool to alert USCIS of address change. Please note that, in some cases, address changes that occur very close to when your application is approved may not allow for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be mailed to the new address. It is ideal if someone at the original address can still receive mail for you as a back-up if the change of address is done too late in the process.
My online case status says that my OPT was approved, but my EAD hasn’t arrived. What do I do?
Please note that it can take several weeks after your OPT application is approved for your EAD card to arrive in the mail. Standard practice is to allow up to 30 days for delivery of your card once your OPT application is approved.
When you OPT application is approved, generally, the tracking number for your EAD is posted in the online cases status. If you have not received a tracking number, you may open an inquiry through Non-Delivery of Notice USCIS online tool. You will need to have your receipt number, consisting of 13 characters beginning with 3 letters such as: YSC1234567890. You can find it on notices of action that USCIS has sent you, and on the back of the personal check you used to pay the filing fee of your application.
If you have a tracking number, and the US Postal Service (USPS) confirms that your EAD was delivered, but you have not received it, then we would advise that you first check in with your neighbors, roommates, landlord, etc. to make sure that the EAD was not received at your residence by someone else. If your card is still missing, you should contact the USPS and follow their steps for missing mail.
If the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) confirms that your card was not delivered, request that they document that the loss is due to their error. This may allow you to request a replacement EAD at no cost to you.
If the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) confirms that your card was returned to the sender, contact your ISSO Advisor. They may be able to contact the USCIS Service Center to inquire about your card. In some situations, ISSO may be able coordinate your card being send to a new mailing address. In some situations, this may not be possible you will need to follow the steps below to request a replacement EAD.
If the EAD is lost, you will need to take action to maintain your immigration status prior to the accrual of 90 days of unemployment. We recommend that you consult with your ISSO Advisor about your options to:
- File a NEW I-765 application for a replacement EAD (this would allow employment for 90 days with the new USCIS receipt notice Form I-797)
- Request a new EAD without fee if due to US Postal Service (USPS) error (you will need a letter from USPS confirming they are at fault for the loss)
- Transfer to another academic program (either at BU or another school)
- Depart the US and complete your OPT/SEVIS record
Note: You are not eligible to begin employment until you have received either your EAD or a receipt notice for the I-765 filed to replace your lost EAD. See instructions in section below for filing the Replacement EAD application.
How do I replace an EAD that was lost or stolen?
If your EAD is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you may request a replacement EAD by submitting a NEW I-765 application form, and selecting “Replacement…” box in the first question. A new filing fee is required with the application.
Prepare your documentation to mail to USCIS I-765 mailing address.
- Filing Fee
- Two U.S. passport style photographs
- Form G-1145
- NEW Form I-765 signed and dated, for more information on completing the form, see resources below
- Copy of your current I-20 with OPT recommendation
- Copy of your passport biographical page
- Print-out of most recent I-94
- Copy of Form I-797 approval notice (or receipt notice in case of non-delivery) and/or copy of your lost EAD
It can take USCIS 3-5 months to issue a replacement EAD. After filing of new form I-765 for a replacement EAD, you will receive a new Form I-797 receipt notice by mail (normally 2-3 weeks after mailing). You may be eligible to temporarily work up to 90 days using the new Form I-797 receipt notice to demonstrate I-9 employment eligibility. (See USCIS link for more information.)
My EAD card has errors. How can I get those corrected?
If there are errors on your EAD such as the spelling of your name, country of birth, or start and end date of work authorization which are a result of USCIS error, please contact your ISSO Advisor. Due to the complex nature of resolving errors, the ISSO will be happy to provide you with assistance. Your ISSO Advisor will typically ask you to provide the following for review of the error:
- The original EAD containing the error
- A letter explaining the EAD error and detailing the correction required
- Supporting documentation on the correct information. For example, passport to show your correct name, or I-20 to show correct recommended start and end dates.
Errors that are the fault of USCIS can generally be corrected without a new application or filing fee. Errors that are the fault of the applicant (ex. reversing the order of your names or selecting an incorrect option on the I-765) generally require a new I-765 and filing fee in order to be corrected.
**Please note that you should consult with your ISSO Advisor before submitting the completed EAD correction application. Please keep a copy of all documents submitted for your records.