USCIS has recently announced that they are now permitting premium processing for F-1 OPT and F-1 STEM OPT. As of March 6, 2023, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for OPT (pre-completion and post-completion), and for STEM OPT, if the I-765 Form is pending with USCIS. The premium processing request can be filed online, or via paper.
Beginning April 3, 2023, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for F-1 OPT and STEM OPT when filed together with the Form I-765 (rather than only for currently pending requests). It will of course still be possible to "upgrade" pending requests to premium processing.
This is great news for foreign national students and their employers who need their OPT and STEM OPT requests approved to begin working as soon as possible. There is an additional fee (currently $2500) for premium processing. However, current USCIS processing times for the OPT and STEM OPT EADs can be several months. Having the EAD approved sooner rather than later also provides peace of mind, knowing that you have work authorization secured, and can allow you to better plan for your professional (and personal!) future. Also keep in mind that if you timely file your STEM OPT extension and your OPT expires while it's pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for up to 180 days.
As always, the above information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please speak with a qualified immigration lawyer before taking action. If you need help navigating the immigration process with confidence, please contact us today to get the process underway! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!