STEM OPT Application Checklist-COVID lockbox backlog

ASSEMBLING THE STEM OPT APPLICATION

We recommend assembling your STEM OPT application in the order indicated below. Your UCSIS application fee and your photos should be on the very top of the application. Once your application is assembled, you will need to ship the completed application to the appropriate USCIS address as listed below. It is extremely important that you review your application before filing it with USCIS. If your application is rejected or denied due to missing materials, an out of date I-765 form, or other issues with completeness, timely filing or eligibility, you could lose your eligibility to apply for the STEM OPT extension. Based on the timing of the rejection or denial notification from USCIS, you may not be eligible to re-file your application.
 
The STEM OPT application should be assembled in the following order:
Originals:
1) Two passport Photos
2) USCIS application fee (check or money order)
3) Form G-1145*
4) Form I-765*
Photocopies:
  5) Signed STEM OPT I-20, Pages 1-2**
  6) Passport
  7) F-1 Visa Stamp
  8) Most recent I-94 admission record
  9) Most recent OPT I-20 showing current employment, Pages 1-2
10) Current EAD Card (front and back)
11) SEVIS CPT Printout**
12) Academic Transcript
*Please download these forms directly from USCIS.
**These items will be provided by ISSS.
DO NOT use staples to attach or assemble your application; use binder clips or paperclips instead. It is recommended that you place your photos inside either a ziploc bag or a paper envelope to prevent them from being lost during processing. If you use a paper envelope, write "I-765 Photos: Last Name, First Name, USCIS#XXX-XXX-XXX" on the outside of the envelope. We also recommend that you review USCIS' form filing tips prior to getting started on your application. Please note: you should not submit the Form I-983 Training Plan along with the STEM OPT extension application. The Form I-983 only needs to be submitted to ISSS. We recommend that you make a photocopy or scan of your entire application package before sending it to USCIS. If there are any issues with your application it will be helpful to have a copy of exactly what was sent in to USCIS.

SHIPPING THE STEM OPT APPLICATION

You should use an express or courier service such as FedEx, DHL or USPS Express Mail to ship the OPT application. DO NOT send your application using USPS regular mail. For the time being, we strongly recommend that you confirm the filing address on the USCIS I-765 direct filing address page prior to shipping your application.
**UPDATE** Due to the recent backlog in USCIS receipt notice issuance for F-1 OPT applications, USCIS has temporarily changed the filing address for all F-1 OPT applications.
 
USCIS Chicago Lockbox filing address for FedEx, UPS, DHL  USCIS Chicago Lockbox filing address for USPS Express Mail
USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517‚Äč
Phone: 800.375.5283
USCIS
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

ONCE YOUR APPLICATION HAS BEEN FILED WITH USCIS

Temporary 180-day Extension of  Employment Authorization
Applicants who have timely filed a complete application for the STEM OPT extension will have an automatic 180-day extension of work authorization. This temporary extension begins the day after your 12-month OPT period ends. You will need to renew your form I-9 with your employer once your current EAD expires. You will need your STEM OPT I-20 and your current EAD card along with your passport and current I-94 admission record. It is recommended that you also have your I-797 Notice of Receipt from your STEM OPT application.

Communication from USCIS
It is important that you promptly review all communication you receive from USCIS. Within two weeks of sending your application you should receive an I-797 Notice of Receipt for your application to the address on your I-765. Please submit a copy of this to ISSS via the OPT Document Upload. Please be sure to review your receipt notice carefully. Check the spelling of your name and your date of birth. If there are any errors, contact an ISSS advisor immediately.
 
If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Denial Notice, upload a copy of the communication and contact ISSS right away. These are time sensitive and have the potential to impact your legal F-1 status and your permission to remain in the US.

When your EAD card has arrived, submit a copy of the I-797 Approval Notice and the front and back of your EAD to ISSS via the OPT Document Upload. Remember that you cannot begin employment until the OPT has been approved, you have received the EAD card and the start date printed on it has arrived.