Issues & Problems during OPT/STEM OPT Application Process

There are several types of problems that may occur during your OPT or OPT application.

  • Delayed processing
  • Thesis/Dissertation delays after OPT application has been submitted
  • Needing to change information on your OPT application
  • Not receiving your I-797c Receipt Notice
  • Not receiving your EAD/EAD lost in the mail
  • Request for Evidence or Denial of OPT
  • Lost EAD or Incorrect EAD
See below for further information and instructions on how to deal with these issues.

OPT/STEM Application Pending More Than 90 Days

USCIS has a goal timeline of 90 days to process an OPT/STEM Application. However, this is not a guaranteed timeline. An OPT/STEM application can take up to 3-5 months to get adjudicated. Please visit the USCIS Processing Times website for the most up-to-date processing times.

If you have an OPT/STEM application that has been pending over 90 days, contact USCIS to get a status update. If you are not successful in obtaining a status update regarding your application, please contact the Ivanhoe International Center. Please note that there is no way to expedite an application.

Thesis/Dissertation Delays

Master's and PhD students only, may apply for post-completion OPT on a full-time basis, if all degree requirements have been completed EXCEPT for Master's thesis or Doctoral dissertation. It is strongly recommended that you meet with the Ivanhoe International Center staff if you choose this option. A couple of items to keep in mind:
  • On-campus work permission ends with OPT I-20 end date
    • ◦ If you wish to continue working, you must use your OPT
  • You must be registered for thesis, final project, or dissertation credits in order to complete your degree
    • ◦ The graduate office will assist you with the number of credits required
      ◦ For F1 status purposes and OPT, you do not need to be registered full time and you will not need a reduced course load form
  • Must complete degree before the end of OPT. If you don't,
    • ◦ You will not be eligible for the STEM extension

    Change Information After OPT/STEM Application has been Mailed to USCIS

    At times, a student may want to change certain information such as dates, address, etc. on their OPT/STEM application after they have mailed it in to USCIS. Please note that after you have mailed your application to USCIS no changes can be made except for address updates.

    Replacement I-797 Notice of Action

    Students who have filed for OPT/STEM OPT with USCIS but have never received or lost their I-797 Notice of Action should request for a replacement copy.

    What is an I-797 Notice of Action
    The I-797 is a receipt notice that USCIS mails out within 2-4 weeks after an applicant has mailed the OPT application to USCIS.

    Request for Evidence or Denial

    If you've received a Request for Evidence or Denial, please contact the Ivanhoe International Center as soon as possible to help with the situation. These notices are time sensitive.

    Replacement EAD Lost in Mail at fault of USPS

    If the case status on USCIS is showing that your EAD card was mailed but you never received it, there is a possibility that it was undeliverable or lost by USPS.

    If USPS determines that they are not responsible for the loss of the EAD, you will have to file for a replacement Lost EAD Card and pay the USCIS I-765 filing fee.

    Replacement, Lost, or Stolen EAD Card

    File a form online at:

    Contact Us:

    Ivanhoe International Center
    South Dakota Mines
    501 E Saint Joseph Street
    Rapid City, SD  57701-3995
    Phone: 1.605.394.6884
    FAX: 1.605.394.6883
    WhatsApp and Google: 1.605.388.2003

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