Issues & Problems during OPT

There are several types of problems that may occur during a student's OPT or OPT application:

  • Delayed processing
  • Needing to change information on your OPT application
  • Not receiving your I-797c Receipt Notice
  • Not receiving your EAD/EAD lost in the mail
  • Request for Evidence or Denial of OPT
  • Lost EAD or Incorrect EAD

See below for further information and instructions on how to deal with these issues.

Soybean color separator barOPT/STEM Application Pending Longer Than Normal Processing Times

Please visit the USCIS Processing Times website for the most up-to-date processing times for OPT/STEM applications. If you have an OPT/STEM application that has been pending for longer than the normal processing time, please contact Berkeley International Office and submit a case inquiry on the USCIS websitePlease note that there is no way to expedite an application. 

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Change Information After OPT/STEM Application has Been Submitted to USCIS

At times, students may want to change certain information such as dates, address, etc. on their OPT/STEM application after they have submitted it to USCIS. Please note that after you have submitted your application to USCIS, no changes can be made except for address updates.

Change of Address

If you have previously filed an an application with USCIS (such as first applying for 12 month OPT, and you are now applying for the STEM Extension) and moved addresses in between applications, it is possible that you could face mailing issues. If you did not update your address with USCIS using the online AR-11 form prior to submitting your current USCIS application, it is likely that your receipt notice and EAD card will be mailed to the address that was listed in your previous USCIS application—even if you listed a new address in the STEM Extension I-765. While mailing issues may be unavoidable at this point, you can take the following steps to try to get it corrected:

  • Sign into BIO's advising hours to inform an adviser
  • Fill out the online AR-11 Change of Address form
    • Be sure to indicate "YES" to the question "Have you filed an immigration-related application or petition and your case is pending a decision or you have not received a notice, card, or document?"
    • In the "Case Information" section, select "I765" for Form Number
    • Select "I765 - Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)]" for the Form Sub Type
    • Add your Receipt Number from your application and zip code used when filed
    • Fill out the rest of the information

Even after informing an adviser and submitting the AR-11 form, your address may not be updated in the system until after your STEM Extension application has been reviewed and approved, and it is very possible your EAD card could be delivered to your previous address. With this in mind, we encourage you to make some plans in case that this does happen:

  • Check your USCIS Case Status regularly to see if the card is delivered or returned to USCIS.
  • Contact the landlord or current residents at your previous address to see if they would be willing to forward you the EAD card if it is delivered to that address.
  • If your card is returned to USCIS, follow their instructions to have it re-sent to your new address.
  • If your card is delivered to your previous address and you are not able to have it forwarded to you, then you will need to apply for a Replacement EAD. See our instructions below in the "Replacement, Lost, Stolen, or Damaged EAD Card" section.

Withdraw an Application

Withdrawing your OPT application is complex and the fee is non-refundable. If your OPT has already been approved, it is not possible to withdraw it. Please contact a Berkeley International Office advisor if you are considering withdrawing your OPT application.

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Request for Evidence or Denial

If you've received a Request for Evidence or Denial, please contact Berkeley International Office as soon as possible. These notices are time-sensitive. 

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Replacement I-797 Notice of Action

Students who have filed for OPT/STEM OPT with USCIS but have never received or lost their I-797 Notice of Action can request a replacement copy.

What is an I-797 Notice of Action?

You'll receive an electronic copy in your online USCIS account after e-filing.  You should also receive a paper I-797 which USCIS mails out within 2 - 4 weeks after an applicant has submitted the OPT application to USCIS.

Importance of I-797 Notice

  • To inquire about your OPT application status.
  • Proof that USCIS has received your OPT application.
  • Contains a date when USCIS begins processing your OPT application.
  • Contains a case number to track your OPT application.
  • Necessary if you would like to travel outside of the U.S while your OPT application is pending. 

Instructions on how to request for a replacement I-797 Notice of Action

If you wish to request a replacement  of the paper version, review the Replacement I-797C tutorial below for a complete overview of the process.

Replacement I797

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EAD Correction or Replacement of a Lost or Stolen EAD Card

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is evidence that an individual is allowed to work in the United States for a specific time period. It is also physical evidence that a student’s OPT has been adjudicated and approved by USCIS. 

EAD Correction

See the USCIS Updating or Correcting Your Documents webpage.

If you’ve received an EAD Card but it contains incorrect information due to an USCIS error (e.g., typo in name or incorrect birthdate), you must return the original EAD card to get it corrected by USCIS. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD within 30 - 45 days of receiving the EAD that contains the error.

If you are not sure if the error is made by USCIS or you have questions, please contact us

Instructions to have EAD corrected:

(1) BEFORE following the instructions below, be sure that 1) you have made a photocopy of the card, 2) you have already provided the card for your employment hiring process, SSN application, or driver's license renewal, and 3) you do not have any international travel plans in the next 1-2 months. 

(2) Go to the USCIS e-request page.

(3) Select "Typographic Error".

(4) Fill out and submit the "Typographic Error" e-form.

(5) You will receive an email with instructions. Follow the instructions to mail your EAD back to USCIS. If you have questions about the instructions, please contact BIO.

Please note: If USCIS determines that the card contains incorrect information that is NOT due to USCIS error, they will return the EAD Card. You will need to request a Replacement EAD and repay the USCIS I-765 filing fee.

Replacement EAD Lost in Mail at fault of USPS

If the case status on USCIS is showing that your EAD card was mailed, but you never received it, there is a possibility that it was undeliverable or lost by USPS. 

Instructions on how to request for a replacement EAD that was lost in mail by USPS

  • Call USCIS to obtain the tracking number for your EAD Card. If you are registered for an account with, the tracking information should show in your account if the card has been mailed.
  • Check the tracking number. If it shows “delivered,” contact USPS to see if they are able to locate the mail for you.
    • If USPS is responsible for the lost card, you will need to obtain an official letter on a letterhead from USPS stating such.
    • Email the letter to so that an adviser can assist you with contacting USCIS about your case.
    • If approved, USCIS will then issue a new replacement EAD at no additional cost.
  • If your case status shows “undeliverable,” it means that USPS may have returned the EAD to USCIS.
    • Follow the instructions in the online USCIS case status to request that USCIS resend the card to you.

If USPS determines that they are not responsible for the loss of the EAD, you will have to file for a replacement Lost EAD Card and pay the USCIS I-765 filing fee.

Replacement, Lost, Stolen, or Damaged EAD Card

Students who need a replacement EAD Card (e.g. the original EAD Card was lost, stolen, destroyed, or it included an error by the applicant) will need to file original OPT paperwork and repay the USCIS I-765 fee to the Service Center. 

Document Checklist. Refer to the OPT tutorial or STEM OPT tutorialfor specific instructions on how to prepare these documents for electronic filing or filing by mail

  • 2 U.S. Passport Photos (with name and I-94 number written lightly in pencil on back of each), taken within the past 30 days.
  • USCIS Fee. See the USCIS I-765 page for current filing fee.
  • New form I-765 either e-filed or paper (if filing by mail) indicating reason for filing as: 1.b. - Replacement of lost, stolen or damaged employment authorization document. Remember: In the I-765 form, you'll need to be sure to indicate you have previously applied for OPT or STEM and indicate your previous receipt numbers. (You previously applied and your card was lost stolen or damaged!)
  • Letter explaining that your original EAD has been lost, stolen, not delivered by mail, etc.
  • Copy of OPT I-20 that was previously issued by BIO for your initial/STEM OPT application. It does not have to be issued within the past 30/60 days.
  • Copy of passport biographical page and F-1 visa stamp, if applicable.
  • Copy of current electronic I-94 record or paper Form I-94 (both sides) 
  • Copy of your previous OPT/STEM I-797 receipt notice and copy of original EAD Card, if applicable. 
  • If it is a replacement request due to an error not by USCIS, the original EAD is required and you must submit the applicaiton by mail in order to return the incorrect EAD to USCIS.
  • If filing by mailForm G-1145 to confirm receipt and obtain case number in advance of paper notification.

Mailing instructions

BIO recommends filing the I-765 form and OPT/STEM OPT EAD applications online via e-filing. If you would like to e-file your replacement, See the USCIS e-filing website for more information. Refer to the OPT tutorial or STEM OPT tutorial for specific instructions on how to prepare documents for electronic filing or filing by mail.

If you choose to file by mail ( not recommended), make sure that you use a form of mailing with guaranteed delivery, tracking, and delivery confirmation.

Find the appropriate direct mailing address. 

  1. Go to USCIS direct filing address page
  2. Click on "Foreign Students."
  3. Find your eligibility category.
  4. Choose the address based on your type of mailing (US Postal Service or private courier). Write the address EXACTLY as indicated on the webpage.

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