Students Have 30-Day Window to File OPT Application with USCIS After SEVIS Recommends
July 26, 2012 | Tags: AILA | USCIS
USCIS service centers are enforcing some strict filing deadlines for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) applications, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Students and Scholars Committee. This is resulting in some unexpected OPT denials. USCIS officials confirmed at an I-539 stakeholder engagement meeting on June 9, 2012 that failure to timely file within 30 days of the date the Designated School Official (DSO) enters the recommendation for OPT in SEVIS will result in a denial of the application. Students may find helpful the PowerPoint presentation from that meeting, with the relevant slide appearing on page 59. Previously, when the USCIS received an OPT application more than 30 days after the DSO entered the OPT recommendation in SEVIS, it often would send an RFE requiring a new Form I-20 signed by the DSO. In response, the DSO could simply reprint the same I-20 from SEVIS, sign it, and give it to the student to submit (without entering a new OPT recommendation in SEVIS). But the USCIS is now taking the position that this approach is not allowed — an apparent change in its analysis of the regulation at 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(11)(i)(B)(2), which reads in part, "within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation of OPT into his or her SEVIS record."
Graduating students must stay in close communication with their Foreign Student Advisors. To avoid having an OPT application denied, the student must file the application with the USCIS within 30 days of the OPT recommendation being entered in SEVIS. If a student is unable to submit the I-765 and supporting I-20 to the USCIS within 30 days of the OPT recommendation in SEVIS, the DSO should cancel the original OPT recommendation in SEVIS and enter a new recommendation.