Issues & Problems during OPT/STEM OPT
There are several types of probems that may occur during your 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.
OPT/STEM Application Pending More Than 90 Days
USCIS has a goal timeline of 90 days to process an OPT/STEM Application. However, this is not a guaranteed timeline. An OPT/STEM application can take up to 3-5 months to get adjudicated. Please visit the USCIS Processing Times website for the most up-to-date processing times. If you have an OPT/STEM application that has been pending over 90 days, contact USCIS to get a status update. If you are not successful in obtaining a status update regarding your application, please contact Berkeley International Office. Please note that there is no way to expedite an application.
Change Information After OPT/STEM Application has been Mailed to USCIS
At times, student may want to change certain information such as dates, address, etc. on their OPT/STEM application after they have mailed it in to USCIS. Please note that after you have mailed your application to USCIS no changes can be made except for address updates.
Change of Address
Withdraw an Application
Withdrawing the OPT application is very difficult and the fee is non-refundable. If the OPT has been approved, it is not possible to withdraw. Please discuss this with an advisor at Berkeley International Office.
Request for Evidence or Denial
If you've received a Request for Evidence or Denial, please contact Berkeley International Office as soon as possiible. These notices are time sensitive.
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 should request for a replacement copy.
What is an I-797 Notice of Action?
The I-797 is a receipt notice that USCIS mails out within 2-4 weeks after an applicant has mailed 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
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.
If you’ve received an EAD Card but the EAD contains incorrect information due to USCIS error (e.g.: typo in name or birthdate error), 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 error.
If you are not sure if the error is made by USCIS or have questions, please contact us.
BEFORE sending away your card for a correction be sure that you: 1) make a photocopy of the card 2) have already provided the card for your employment hiring process, SSN application, or Driver License renewal and 3) do not have any international travel plans in the next 1-2 months.
The original EAD Card
A letter containing detailed explanation of the error
Copy of original OPT I-20 that was issued by BIO. It does not have to be issued within the past 30 days.
Supporting documentation, if needed
Ex: Copy of passport biographical page if there are any biographical errors
Sample Letter to USCIS
USCIS Potomac Service Center
I've received my EAD card; however I noticed that the EAD contains an error. (Provide a brief explanation of the issue. For example: My first name is missing the letter "i". The correct spelling is "Oski". However, the card is showing "Osk". I have attached my passport as verification of the correct spelling of my name).
Please correct the error and send me an updated EAD Card.
(Print letter and sign your name with a pen)
Mail your request to the center that processed your OPT application and make sure you get a tracking number. Check your USCIS receipt number- if the first 3 letters of your OPT receipt number are YSC, then the card was produced by the Potomac Service Center. (If you are not sure which Service Center issued the card, please ask your BIO advisor.) Use the address below for the Potomac Service Center. :
Potomac Service Center
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
2200 Potomac Center Drive, Stop 2425
Arlington, VA 20598-2425
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 (link to replacement EAD section) and pay the USCIS I-765 filing fee again.
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 have registered for an account with USCIS.gov, the tracking information shoud 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.
- Bring the letter to Berkeley International Office so that an advisor 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.
Students who need a replacement of the EAD Card (due to lost, stolen, destroyed, or error by applicant) will need to file original OPT paperwork and pay the USCIS I-765 fee again to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox.
Document Checklist. Refer to the OPT tutorial for specific instructions on how to prepare these documents.
- 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 of $410. Check, Money Order, or Credit Card payment made payable to: “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
- New original form I-765 indicating 1.b. - Replacement of lost employment authorization document.
- Letter explaining that your original EAD has been lost, stolen, not delivered by mail, etc.
- Photocopy 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 days.
- Photocopy of passport biographical page and F-1 visa stamp, if applicable.
- Photocopy of latest paper Form I-94 (both sides) or electronic I-94 record. (The electronic I-94 record is available ONLY to those with passport admission stamp.)
- Original EAD Card, if applicable.
- Form G-1145 to confirm receipt and obtain case number in advance of paper notification
Use the address of USCIS Service Center that corresponds to the region where you will receive your EAD (the address you listed on Item #3 of your Form I-765). Make sure that you use a form of mailing with guaranteed delivery, tracking, and delivery confirmation.
- You will use a different address depending on whether you choose Express Mail or USPS.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
Express Deliveries (Fedex or UPS)
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
Attn: NFB AOS
1820 E Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia
Express Deliveries (Fedex or UPS)
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
Attn: NFB AOS
2501 S. State Hwy 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Please contact us.