Creative Solution: How to Reopen an Untimely STEM OPT Application
August 30, 2023

Law Offices of Sabrina Li wins another I-290B to reopen the client’s untimely I-765 application for STEM OPT extension.

Our client graduated from one of the top 3 universities in the U.S. with a master’s degree in a STEM major. She was granted an initial OPT for 12 months. Despite her efforts, she could not secure qualified employment to support her application for the 24-month STEM OPT extension until a few days before the expiration of her initial term.

The client managed to e-file her STEM OPT application in the evening on the last day of the 12-month term. To her surprise, the USCIS online portal recorded the date of her submission the next day – that is, one day after the expiration of her initial OPT. It was later discovered that USCIS online system utilizes Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), the time zone in which the client was located.

A few weeks later, the client’s STEM OPT application was denied as untimely. She retained us to file an I-290B motion to reopen on her behalf.

After a comprehensive analysis of the client’s case, our legal team proposed a dual approach to tackle the denial. We worked closely with the client to gather documents and put together a declaration outlining all relevant events that led to her alleged late filing. In the carefully crafted motion, we presented an argument against the USCIS’ finding and an alternative seeking discretion under the circumstances.

Working under a limited-time schedule, we got the motion package filed three weeks after the client’s execution of the retainer.

A little more than a month after our submission, the USCIS granted the client’s motion, and her STEM OPT application was reopened for adjudication.

If you and anyone you know encounter a similar issue and need professional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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