OPT delay forces concerned international students raise their voices on Twitter


Many international students have been worrying sick due to delayed response from the immigration department, as their Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization are set to expire soon.

After not getting a proper response from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, the concerned student took on Twitter using the hashtag #F1OPTLockboxDelayOn to storm the issue.

When this started trending locally, the official USCIS Twitter account tweeted, “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors such as an increase in filings and current postal service volume, USCIS is experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for some applications and petitions properly filed at a USCIS lockbox facility.”

One of the students @emelsenkilic tweeted, “It has been 8 weeks for me and l still don’t have a receipt like many others who sent to TX lockbox. Please help us! Please process early November cases. We will end up losing our status. #f1optlockboxdelay.”

OPT work authorization allows F-1 students to work temporarily in fields that advance their studies for a period of up to 12 months after the completion of their studies. They must apply before the end date of their Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which students receive once their OPT is approved.

Once a student’s OPT expires, they have a 60-day grace period to leave the US, change their status, or transfer their F-1 visa status to a new school or program. If they remain in the US — without a timely filed Change of Status — this will be considered as an unlawful presence.

One group of international students has begun a petition regarding problems at the Dallas Lockbox in Texas. “The current wait time for a receipt has already surpassed the filing deadline for many of us,” they wrote.

“Thousands of scholars and researchers are in danger of losing their legal status due to this unprecedented delay,” according to the petition.

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in Foreign Affairs said, “American universities have a special place in the global imagination, and lowering the visa hurdles for study in the US while creating better, more accessible pathways for international students to work in the United States after graduation can pay both short- and long-term dividends in expanding US influence.”