1. The student must file the Form I-765 with USCIS and receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to work in the U.S. The I-765 must be accompanied by the following:
- The government filing fee, available at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
- The Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO within 60 days before filing the I-765.
2. The Form I-765 may be filed up to 90 days before the expiration of the student’s current OPT, but it must be received by USCIS before the expiration. Many a STEM OPT application has been rejected for failure to meet this timeframe, so be careful!
3. Make sure the Form I-765 is properly signed with the correct filing fee provided and sent to the correct USCIS address as provided at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765. Send the form and all supporting documents by trackable mail and save a copy.
4. If the student files the STEM OPT extension application on time and the OPT period expires while the extension is pending, USCIS will automatically extend the employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ends once USCIS makes a decision on the STEM OPT extension.