USCIS has expanded the option of premium processing for F1 students applying for OPT and STEM OPT
After months and months of delays on various categories of visas during and after the pandemic, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been expanding the option of premium processing for many categories of visa applications.
As Indians remain one of the largest recipients of student or F-1 visas, it was expected that a premium processing in that category would really help many F-1 hopefuls to better plan their prospects in the US.
Read: USCIS expands premium processing for certain F-1 students (March 7, 2023)
Earlier this month, the USCIS announced that they are making the option of premium processing available for F1 students applying for OPT and STEM OPT.
How much will it cost?
The cost of premium processing for F1 students applying for premium processing will be $1,500. It can vary a little bit depending upon the form you may have filled with the USCIS and can go up to $2,500.
What is the processing time?
On an average the processing time for OPT and STEM OPT application has remained anywhere between two to five months. The premium processing duration can vary anywhere from 15 calendar days to 45 calendar days.
The variation depends on the form the applicant filed with USCIS. F1 students applying for OPT or STEM OPT, can expect premium processing duration to be 30 calendar days.
Read: USCIS expanding premium processing for EB-1 and EB-2Â (January 13, 2023)
Pending and fresh applications
Beginning March 6, 2023, anyone with a pending F1 OPT or STEM OPT application has the option of upgrading their application to premium processing by filling out form I -907.
However, if one is filing a fresh OPT or STEM OPT application then one cannot opt for premium processing until April 3. Starting that date, anyone filing a new application can file for a premium processing application.
What would lesser waiting times mean?
The lesser waiting times for their application definitely puts F-1 students on an advantage as earlier, sometimes when the waiting periods were longer some students were unable to work after their graduation as they awaited their EADs.
The HR 8337 Bill
The new provision is part of the implementation of bill HR 8337 that was passed by US Congress in Sep 2020. The bill included premium processing options for H4 EAD, L2 EAD, and other EAD categories. The EAD for F1 students applying for OPT and STEM OPT was also part of the same.