General Information

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a form of temporary employment authorization for eligible F-1 students. 

Post-completion OPT allows F-1 students to work anywhere in the United States, as long as the employment is directly related to one’s program of study (emphasis or concentration).  

A Designated School Official (DSO) may recommend post-completion OPT in SEVIS, but students must apply for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). 

If the government approves post-completion OPT, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students may begin working on the EAD start date, if they have a social security card and have updated their SEVIS record.

The OPT guidelines are explained on this website and at Study in the States. Please read both thoroughly. If these two websites do not answer all of your questions, please contact the International Student Office at or 214-887-5369.

Eligibility Criteria for OPT

You can apply for OPT if you:

  • Are a F-1 visa student in good standing with DTS.  
  • Have been continuously enrolled full-time for at least one academic year.
  • Are eligible to complete OPT.
    • Students who have completed twelve (12) or more months of full-time CPT at the masters-level (DTS or elsewhere) are not eligible for OPT at the masters level.
    • Students who have completed twelve (12) months of masters-level OPT at another school are not eligible for additional OPT at the masters level. 

Important Timeline Information

Apply for OPT - 90 days from end date on your I-20

The earliest you can apply for post-completion OPT is ninety (90) days before your program end date on your I-20. USCIS will discard any OPT request received ninety-one (91) days or more prior to a person’s program end date.

Post-completion OPT typically takes at least ninety (90) days to be adjudicated (to know whether your OPT was approved or not by the USCIS).

USCIS must receive your OPT request no later than the last date of your grace period sixty (60) days after your program end date). You cannot request OPT once your sixty (60) day grace period has expired.  

Start OPT - during the 60 day grace period after your I-20 end date

The start date of post-completion OPT can be any date within the sixty (60) day grace period after the program end date on your I-20. 

You cannot request a start date for post-completion OPT after the sixty (60) day grace period. 

Once this grace period is passed, you will start accruing unlawful presence days if your OPT has not been approved.

If you have submitted your post-completion OPT application to USCIS, you can remain in the United States after your 60 day grace period has ended as long as your application is pending.


Unemployment - up to 90 days from start date on EAD card

People with approved post-completion OPT cannot be unemployed for more than ninety (90) total days during the approved OPT. Unemployment days will begin on the EAD start date if the student does not enter their employment into SEVIS. If a student leaves a position or is fired, then unemployment dates will be accrued until appropriate employment is found and entered into SEVIS.

The EAD is terminated any time a person accrues ninety (90) days of unemployment. It is imperative that you maintain your employment status in SEVIS. 

Finish OPT - 12 month after start of OPT

You are authorized to work for maximum of twelve (12) month with post-completion OPT. The EAD end date is your final day to work on OPT. A sixty (60) day grace period is authorized at the end of your OPT.

How to Apply for OPT

Step 1 - Review Homeland Security Website

Please review the OPT information on the Study in the States website before starting this process.

Step 2 - Complete OPT Request for Dallas Theological Seminary

The form below is only to request post-completion OPT from Dallas Theological Seminary. You as the student are still responsible to actually apply for post-completion OPT with the US government. After completing the form below, you will still need to complete the remaining steps on this page. 

Please submit this form 7-10 business days before you intend to mail your request to USCIS. The International Student Office needs to review your request, submit information in SEVIS, and provide you with a new OPT I-20.

NOTE: USCIS must receive your application within thirty (30) days of the date DTS staff enter your OPT request into SEVIS. Any request received after this date will be discarded and the process begins again, if time remains to request OPT.

Step 3 - Complete Request E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance: Form G-1145

Complete this form to request a text message and/or email when USCIS accepts your form.

Add the email address below to your contacts so you will receive timely information about OPT and your SEVIS account.

You will attach this completed form to the front of your application (see next step).

Step 4 - Complete Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Complete this form to request employment authorization and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

We know the I-765 application can be overwhelming but do not let it scare you. The University of Texas at Dallas has made an excellent video which overviews step by step how to fill out this application. While this is for another school, the vast majority of the information communication in this video is applicable to DTS students. Click the image below to be taken to this eight minute video (outside website).

Important instructions related to this application:

  • Item #5 Address where USCIS will send information
    • If you are not moving – Use your current address (You are responsible to update USCIS, if you move)
    • If you are moving within the Dallas area – 3909 Swiss Ave. c/o International Office; Dallas, TX 75204
    • If you are moving outside or the Dallas area – use the address of a trusted friend or the place you intend to work.
  • Item #27 Eligibility Category
    • Use (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion Optional Practical Training – unusual for DTS
    • Use (c)(3)(B) for post-completion Optional Practical Training – normal for DTS

Step 5 - Mail Complete OPT Packet


  1. Original completed form I-765 (complete the form online, print it and sign it in BLACK ink only)
  2. Original completed form G-1145 (complete the form online, print it and sign it in BLACK ink only)
  3. Copy of your new OPT I-20 (issued by the International Student Office and signed by you)
  4. Copies of all other I-20s (all previous and current from all institutions attended)
  5. Copy of your valid passport (you must renew if expired or expiring within six months)
    • Make sure the copy is clear, a color copy is best
  6. Copy of your F-1 visa
  7. Copy of your I-94 form – available at
  8. Copy of a Previous EAD card (applicable only to those who have been granted previous special work permission from the US government)
  9. Two passport size photos
  10. A cashier’s check, personal check, or money order (payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
    • The filling fee can be found here:
    • In the memo line of your check, write the words “OPT application” and  your SEVIS ID number (found on the top right of your I-20)

This is a very important process, so have a friend or spouse review your entire application packet to make sure it is completely filled out before mailing. 

IMPORTANT: Always make a copy of your OPT packet to keep for your own records before you mail it to USCIS!

Mailing Address:

Find the mailing address for TEXAS on the following website:


  • The United States government will not accept your post-completion OPT paperwork if it is more than ninety (90) days before your program end date on your I-20.
  • The United States government will not accept your post-completion OPT paperwork after your sixty (60) day grace period expires.
  • The United States government will not accept your post-completion OPT paperwork if it is more than thirty (30) days after your recommendation from DTS is entered into SEVIS.
  • The United States government will mail letter or return your post-completion OPT paperwork if it is incomplete or errant. In this case, you will need to notify the International Student Office so a new post-completion OPT request can be made. This can happen only during the sixty (60) day grace period after your program end date.
  • You may only complete twelve (12) months of OPT at any educational level. You may only do OPT once as a master’s level student in the United States (whether you were at DTS or not).