OPT (Optional Practical Training)

OPT is Optional Practical Training, a U.S.-government authorized period of employment in the U.S. This is an opportunity for F-1 students to gain real world work experience in the U.S. in a job that directly relates to their studies. For most F-1 students, it is done after graduation. The student must apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-765 to be authorized. Since the authorization process currently takes 3 to 4 weeks, the ideal time to apply is prior to graduation. If approved, the student will receive an employment authorization document (EAD). The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level.

While most UNA students do Post-Completion OPT, a few students apply for Pre-Completion OPT (before graduation). Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months per degree level of OPT eligiblity. Please contact International Student Services at oiaservices@una.edu if you are interested. 

The Office of International Affairs offers two workshops each year to walk students through the entire OPT process. These are generally in the second week of September and the last week of January. Email notifications are sent to all students who have applied for graduation.

We also have an online course in Canvas about OPT. Students who have applied for graduation are automatically added. If you wish to be added to the course, please email Sarah Stevens at sstevens2@una.edu.

Students currently on active OPT should use the online form to report changes to contact information or employment information. It can also be used to request an updated I-20 or a travel signature while on OPT.

OPT Report (online form)

Frequently Asked Questions

Filling out Form I-765

Other Application Documents and Next Steps

General Questions

Read this webpage for help with common questions: Frequently Asked Questions

Initial OPT