USCIS Delays and Updates


USCIS confirmed in a stakeholder message the nationwide delays in receipting petitions filed with the lockbox facilities.  Reports indicate that delays of 6 to 9 weeks are now common.  Please know that a delay in your receipt notice is no indication that something is wrong with your application.  OIS is reaching out to impacted students via email regarding this issue.  

Update 2/26/2021: After nationwide advocacy from higher education organizations, court litigation, and individual student and school requests for assistance, USCIS announced new flexibilities in response to the known lockbox delays. These flexibilities include that USCIS will (1) honor the original filing date (‘receipt date’) of a rejected application if the student refiles the application (2) allow the 14-month period during which the one year of post-completion OPT must be completed to start following the approval of the EAD, rather than the student’s I-20 program end date and (3) if an application with a missing or deficient signature is receipted (ie not rejected at the Lockbox), USCIS will issue an RFE for the proper signature, rather than denying the application.

Update 1/14/2021: NCSU and the UNC System Office have asked its higher education partners to carry a message to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of international students impacted by the delay in the issuance of receipt notices for timely-filed OPT and STEM-OPT applications. Additionally, USCIS Ombudsman advises impacted students to contact USCIS after 60 days of no receipt, and to contact the Ombudsman for case assistance if no response comes from USCIS within 30 days of contacting USCIS. 


As of January 8, 2021, USCIS has changed the Lockbox facility OPT and STEM OPT applications are to be filed with.  Applications mailed before this change should continue to be processed as is, and there is no reason to take further action at this time.  If we receive additional information we will update this.  Any application mailed on or after January 8th, 2021 should be directed to the address listed on this page (see “Foreign Students” section).