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In recent weeks, several F-1 students who are applying for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) or the 24-month STEM Extension of OPT (STEM OPT) have reported that they have not received receipt notices from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirming that their applications were received. These receipt notices serve as important documentation that the OPT application process is underway.

The delay in OPT receipt notice issuance is a known national problem. On December 15, USCIS announced that they are experiencing significant delays in getting receipt notices out to individuals for different kinds of immigration applications, including applications for employment authorization. Ordinarily, receipt notices are mailed out within 2 weeks following receipt of application at a processing center. Receipts are now anticipated to take up to 6 to 8 weeks while this problem is being resolved.

Best Practices Suggestions

If you are applying for F-1 OPT or STEM OPT, the International Center recommends that you always use an express mail delivery service such as Federal Express or UPS or USPS Priority Mail (with tracking) to have your application delivered to USCIS. This is so that you can confirm that your application for OPT or STEM OPT was at least successfully delivered to USCIS. Keep any tracking information your application is fully adjudicated and finally approved and you receive your Employment Authorization (EAD) card. This information will help to show that your application was delivered within the required timeline, even if you do not have a receipt sent to soon after your application was delivered.

Receipt Notice Delays and Continuation of Employment for STEM OPT Applicants

Under F-1 regulations, F-1 students applying for the STEM Extension of OPT are permitted to continue working on a temporary basis for a maximum of 180 days while the STEM Extension application is pending (in process) with USCIS. This benefit applies as long as you have "timely filed" your STEM OPT application (including Form I-765) with USCIS. Timely filed means:

  • Your STEM OPT application was complete (i.e., it included the proper fee payment, photos, and a properly signed I-765 form) and delivered to USCIS no later than the last day of your post-completion OPT period (i.e., the end date of the EAD you received for post-completion OPT)
  • Your STEM OPT application was delivered to USCIS within 60 days of when your international student advisor recommended you for the STEM Extension and gave you your STEM OPT I-20

If you are uncertain about your STEM OPT application deadline and timeframe, consult with your international student advisor at the International Center (if you completed your F-1 program at Tufts) or your F-1 sponsor (if you completed your program at another school before starting work at Tufts).

STEM OPT Applicants Working at Tufts: If your post-completion OPT will expire soon or has already expired, and you have made a timely filed application for the STEM Extension, you may need to take steps to ensure that you are able to continue working for up to 180 days as allowed while your STEM Extension application is in process with USCIS.

  • Talk to your Tufts department manager and have them confirm if you need to extend your I-9 employment verification, which is managed through TSS, so that you may be kept on payroll temporarily for up to 180 days while your STEM Extension is in process with USCIS
  • You will need to present:
    • Your EAD for post-completion OPT, even if it is expired or will expire soon
    • Your STEM Extension I-20, indicated that your school recommended your for the STEM Extension of OPT
    • If you did not get a receipt notice from USCIS, other evidence (such as a FedEx delivery receipt) that your STEM Extension application was delivered to USCIS
  • With the above documents, contact TSS to complete the I-9 verification to continue your eligibility to work at Tufts while your STEM Extension is in process. (Note: while I-9 processes ordinarily must be done in person, USCIS is currently allowing verifications to be done electronically due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

The International Center will continue to monitor these developments regarding USCIS receipt notices and post updates on our web site as it becomes available. If you have further questions, write us at

Best regards,

Tufts International Center