There are several deadlines to consider in handling an OPT application:
Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(11)(i)(B)(2) “[f]or post-completion OPT, the
student must properly file his or her Form I-765 up to 90 days prior to his or
her program end-date and no later than 60 days after his or her program
end-date. The student must also file the Form I-765 with USCIS within 30 days of
the date the DSO enters the recommendation of OPT into his or her SEVIS record”
(emphasis added). In addition to the deadlines provided in the regulation, the
I-765 instructions (item 3.A. on page 2) require that an I-20 submitted with
Form I-765 requesting OPT must be "endorsed by a Designated School Official
within the past 30 days."
Until recently, when USCIS received an OPT application more than 30 days
after the DSO entered the OPT recommendation in SEVIS, it would often send the
applicant a Request for Evidence requiring a new Form I-20 signed by the DSO.
The DSO could simply reprint the Form I-20 from SEVIS (without entering a new
OPT recommendation in SEVIS) and sign it, and the student could submit it to
USCIS. However, USCIS has recently taken the position that the phrase “within 30
days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation of OPT into his or her SEVIS
record,” does not allow this approach, and applications submitted more than 30
days after the DSO’s recommendation of OPT in SEVIS are now being denied.
To avoid a denial of an OPT application, the student must file it with USCIS
within 30 days of the OPT recommendation in SEVIS. If a student is unable to
submit the Form I-765 and supporting I-20 to USCIS within 30 days of the OPT
recommendation in SEVIS, the DSO should cancel the original OPT recommendation
in SEVIS and enter a new recommendation. Simply issuing a new Form I-20, which
was acceptable until recently, will no longer suffice.