US sharply hikes OPT filing fees by 34%

US sharply hikes OPT filing fees by 34%

The US has announced that it will be sharply hiking Optional Practical Training OPT filing fees by 34% for foreign students with a study visa.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services notice shared that it will be implementing a sharp hike in the OPT filing fees for the Form I-765, the US application form for employment authorisation.

The Form I-765 filing fees will be increased by $140 (34%) from $410 to $550.

US DHS refuses to reconsider OPT fees increase

Responding to a point raised regarding the fee increase possibly disincentivising foreign students from choosing to study in the US, the Department of Homeland Security refused to reconsider the decision.

The DHS response said: “DHS acknowledges the sizeable increase in the Form I-765 fee implemented in this final rule, adjusting the fee from $410 to $550. DHS adjusts the fee for Form I-765 to reflect the estimated full cost of adjudication.

“Although DHS recognizes that this fee increase imposes an additional burden on nonimmigrant students seeking employment authorization for Optional Practical Training, off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization, or due to severe economic hardship, DHS is unaware of data to support the commenter’s contention that fee for Form I-765 serves to deter students from coming to the United States.

“DHS declines to exempt students from the increased filing fee because USCIS must determine the student’s eligibility under the applicable regulations at the time of application and the fee is necessary to recover the full costs of the adjudication.

“DHS does not believe the fee is an unreasonable burden for students who need employment-based training. DHS believes that employment in the United States will continue to appeal to individuals despite an increase of $140 in the cost of applying for an EAD.”

OPT key to making US attractive for foreign students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.

Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorisation before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion).

This forms a key part of the attraction the United States holds for foreign students.

Critics have suggested increasing fees for OPT applications could harm US’ attraction as a study abroad destination for international students.

Hari Srinivasan - Managing Editor, Global Education Times (GET News)

Hari is the Managing Editor of Global Education Times. Hari has clocked nearly a decade working as a communications professional with a focus on the education sector. He has also had stints in journalism and advertising in a career which has seen him live, study, and work, in three countries.
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