Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS)

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USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT

March 2, 2021

In a positive update from USCIS on February 26, 2021, the agency announced flexibilities for some international students in F-1 status who are affected by delayed receipt notices for their OPT or STEM OPT applications. We hope these flexibilities will ease the hardships we know many of our international students have been facing due to these delays. These accommodations apply only to applications received on or after October 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive. The main points of the announcement include:

  • USCIS will approve applications for post-completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended by the designated school official (DSO) from their school on the Form I-20.
  • F-1 students requesting post-completion OPT who receive an approval of Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time requested (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. 
  • If a student’s OPT or STEM OPT application was rejected by the USCIS and they are past their eligible window of time to reapply for OPT due to the lockbox delays, they will now be able to refile their application as long as it was timely filed. Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.
  • Students refiling a Form I-765 for OPT or STEM OPT do not need to obtain a new Form I-20 with an updated OPT recommendation from the DSO as long as they originally submitted an application for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO’s recommendation or an application for STEM OPT within 60 days of the DSO’s recommendation as required by the regulations.
  • Although lockboxes will continue to reject OPT applications with a missing or deficient signature, if such an application is accepted by the lockbox and makes its way to a USCIS adjudicator, USCIS will issue an RFE for the proper signature instead of denying the application.

Full text of the February 26, 2021 USCIS News Alert


  • If any of these accommodations apply to your OPT or STEM OPT application, please review the information on the USCIS announcement carefully and follow the instructions as appropriate to your situation. If you have any questions, please contact an OISS advisor
  • If your OPT/STEM OPT application was rejected and you intend to refile your application based on these new flexibilities, we strongly recommend that you contact an OISS advisor  prior to mailing out your new application, so we can assist you in the process.
  • If you have already applied for OPT/STEM OPT and your application is pending, there is no need to reapply. 


  1. Travel precautions from the CDC
  2. Homeland bans and travel warnings
    Gentle Reminder:Valid Passport, Valid Visa, Current I-20 with valid signature (for students already enrolled but returned to their home country due to the pandemic)

The Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISS) in Rutgers University – Newark serves more than 1,700 international students, scholars and their dependents from more than 70 countries. 


The Office of International Student & Scholar Services (OISS) is the primary resource center, striving always for excellence in service to the international community of Rutgers University - Newark.


•    Advise F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors on compliance with immigration laws and regulations to maintain legal status; 
•    Provide support to international students and scholars through orientation programs, cultural & social events and services in collaboration with other University units;
•    Assist University offices and academic departments in their international initiatives and help nurturing growth of international programs; 
•    Ensure institutional compliance to immigration regulations governing enrollment of F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors; serves as liaison with state and federal agencies concerning F-1/J-1 regulatory issues.

OISS Walk-In Hours:

* No appointment necessary. Walk-in to submit/collect requests. *
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Wednesday: 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: CLOSED

OISS Advising Hours:

* No appointment necessary to speak to an advisor. *
Monday: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Tuesday: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Wednesday: 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Thursday: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: CLOSED

Location: Rutgers University - Newark, Conklin Hall, Room 216


Beginning January 21, 2020

Email Inquiries:

All student inquiries must be sent to A member of the OISS staff will respond to your email within 3-5 business days. Please assist OISS staff by only sending inquiries to Please do not send duplicate/follow-up emails to individual OISS staff members, as that will slow overall processing times and cause delays! Duplicate emails and follow-up emails will not receive a response.

Processing Times:

Due to an increasingly large volume of applications, please be aware that the OISS average processing time for all successfully complete and accurate requests is currently a minimum of 10 business days, and we will process all requests in the order that they are received. Additional time will be added to applications that require updated/corrected documentation. Requests for expediting will only be considered in cases where the OISS determines that a student is at risk of losing legal status. Plan the submission of your requests accordingly with the minimum 10 business day timeline!  





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