As students from around the world settle into U.S. college campuses for the 2023/2024 academic year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a reminder about the timeline to produce expedited employment authorization documents (EADs) for F-1 students.

The USCIS Ombudsman’s Office emphasizes that premium processing timelines are separate from EAD production timelines, according to an Aug. 15, 2023, post by the American Immigration Lawyers Association

Under the Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees adjudicative action within 30 calendar days on the I-765, Application for Work Authorization, filed by qualifying F-1 students. The estimated processing time for adjudication on these applications under regular processing averages 60 days.

However, this premium processing timeframe does not include the time it takes to produce the EAD, USCIS states. The ombudsman’s office reminds stakeholders that after USCIS approves Form I-765, the EAD should be produced within one to two weeks, but the actual delivery time may vary, depending on U.S. Postal Service timelines.

This clarification comes as F-1 students filing premium processing requests report delays in receiving their EADs. 

Prompt adjudication allows qualifying applicants to receive the EADs needed to work in the United States faster. Earlier this year, USCIS started accepting Premium Processing Service applications for F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT extensions.

In July, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expanded the STEM OPT program in response to ongoing national need in these still-burgeoning career fields.