Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Academic Training (AT)

OPT and AT are types of temporary work authorization granted to F-1 and J-1 students.

Optional Practical Training

A faculty, research, or staff position may be filled by a new international employee through OPT. This authorization is available to students with an F-1 status. The process is simple:

  • Step 1: The international student applies for OPT prior to graduating from a US university or college by submitting an application to the US Department of Homeland Security.
  • Step 2: When the authorization is granted, the student is issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which provides a beginning and end date of the employment authorization. The student must receive the EAD prior to beginning employment at Northern Arizona University. The EAD is valid for up to a year, with a possible 17-month extension for those with degrees in certain STEM related fields.

It is important that the department chair/director and the employee contact the International Scholar Adviser by the time the person is hired.  The International Scholar Adviser will review the EAD end date and discuss options for continuing employment authorization.

The EAD is appropriate for the positions of:

  • teaching
  • research
  • staff

The employment must be directly related to the student’s area of academic study level.

It is important that the original recruitment and hiring of faculty gives the Center for International Education time to file a petition for US Lawful Permanent Residence if all other eligibility requirements are met.

Academic Training

A teaching, research, or staff position may be filled by a new international employee through AT. This authorization is available to students who have a J-1 status.  AT must be granted before the person begins employment at Northern Arizona University.

The authorization is granted by the student’s International Student Adviser at the school where he or she is enrolled. The student’s immigration document (DS-2019) and a letter from the International Student Adviser will indicate the beginning and end dates of authorized employment.

The period of authorization depends on several factors in the student’s academic program, and the International Student Adviser will consider this when issuing the authorization, varying from a few months to 18 months. Employees with a PhD may be eligible for an additional 18-month extension.

It is important that the department chair/director and the employee contact the 

International Scholar Adviser by the time the person is hired.  The International Scholar Adviser will review the work authorization end date and discuss options for continuing employment.

Academic Training is appropriate for faculty, research, and staff positions. The employment must be directly related to the student’s area of study and educational level.

The original recruitment and hiring of faculty needs to allow the Center for International Education time to eventually file a petition for US Lawful Permanent Residence if all other eligibility requirements are met.