A December 15, 2020 Stakeholder Message from the USCIS Public Engagement Division confirmed the many reports of significant delays in processing of receipt notices for applications for benefits such as OPT that are filed at USCIS lockboxes:
"The USCIS lockbox facilities have received a significant increase in filings in recent weeks. This increase, along with facility capacity restrictions necessary to protect the health and safety of the lockbox workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing significant delays for processing receipt notices. We continue to work to minimize delays. Once we process your submission, we will review your package."
A January 8, 2021 USCIS Lockbox Updates news alert posted by USCIS further noted:
"As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in filings, current postal service volume and other external factors, you may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox. These delays will not affect the receipt date which is determined pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 103.2(a)(7). Delays may vary among form types and lockbox locations. In some cases, you may experience significant delays if you filed a non-family based Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories described in 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(3), relating to F-1 students."
A January 12, 2021 alert on the CIS Ombudsman Office Case Assistance page provided the following update and instructions:
"Alert: USCIS Receipt Notice Delays
The CIS Ombudsman is issuing this alert to notify individuals and employers of USCIS delays in issuing receipt notices from the agency’s Lockbox intake facilities and the actions the CIS Ombudsman is taking to address these delays.
Based on requests for case assistance submitted to our office, USCIS is taking as long as 8 to 9 weeks to issue receipt notices for some applications and petitions.
In response to our attempts to work with USCIS to secure receipt notices, the agency has responded that it is unable to expedite their issuance. We will continue to try to assist individuals who have not received a Notice of Action (Form I-797C) 90 days after their application/petition was received at USCIS. Applicants who have not received a receipt notice within 60 days of filing should first contact USCIS. If USCIS does not respond to your inquiry within 30 days, you may submit a request for case assistance to the CIS Ombudsman.
The CIS Ombudsman is working with USCIS to find solutions to mitigate the harm to applicants impacted by the delays in issuing receipt notices.
For more information, please read USCIS’ announcement."