International Student Services

International students are a valued and celebrated part of our institution. The diverse backgrounds and new perspectives of our students from around the world are an asset to our campus community. The Office of Intercultural Engagement is the hub for international student advising and support, including for F-1 and J-1 visa holders. Throughout your time at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, one-on-one advisement is available to you for all items related to your visa status and cultural adjustment. Our doors are always open to you.

F-1 Students

An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a "full course of study" to achieve a specific educational or professional objective. F-1 students must attend an academic institution in the United States that has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has been enrolled in SEVIS (the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). The majority of our degree-seeking international students (students who are not U.S. citizens) are in F-1 status. 

Students in F-1 status have some specific rules and requirements that govern their activities here in the United States, including those to do with employment and maintaining a full course of study. It is very important that students in F-1 status maintain compliance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Here are a few items of importance:

  • Full-time course load: First and foremost, F-1 students must be enrolled full-time to remain in the U.S. 
  • Reporting Requirements: F-1 students must update the Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) or a Designated School Official (DSO) with any changes to their name, address, contact information, or any other biographical data within 10 days of the change.
  • On Campus Employment: F-1 students may work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours (no more).
  • Off Campus Employment: Any internships or co-ops off campus must be completed for credit and be related directly to your major.  Authorization for this type of employment is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and requires a special application.You will need to work directly with the Assistant Director of the Office of Intercultural Engagement for government approval for any off campus employment.
  • Attendance: F-1 students are expected to attend all courses to maintain full-time enrollment requirements (excluding temporary short-term excused absences such as illness).

Additional Advising for F-1 visa holders

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (eligibility to work in the U.S. after your studies)

Optional Practical Training (also known as OPT), is a benefit of your F-1 status that provides temporary eligibility to work in the U.S. The most common form of OPT is called post-completion OPT, and it becomes available after completion of your degree. OPT authorization provides the ability to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months in a position directly related to your field of study. For specific STEM majors (designated by CIP code from the U.S. Department of Higher Education), individuals may be eligible to apply for a 24 month extension of their OPT, providing 36 months total work eligibility in the U.S. after their degree. Below is a summary of some general facts about OPT:

  • Post-completion OPT is available to F-1 students after completion of their degree.
  • To be granted OPT authorization you must apply through United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (Note: a member of the Office of Intercultural Engagement will work with you one-on-one to apply for OPT)
  • Specific STEM Majors (judging by the designated code of your I-20) may be eligible to apply for a 24 month extension of the OPT status.
  • Special rules and regulations apply during OPT. 

The OPT Application

  • OPT must be applied for through United States Citizenship & Immigration Services.
  • You may apply for OPT up to 30 days before the end date of your academic program (designated on page 1. of your I-20) or as late as 60 days after your end date (although this is not recommended).
  • You may select your OPT start date within a 60 day window after the end date of your academic program.
  • OPT does not require "sponsorship" from a company, as it is a benefit of your F-1 status. However, it is temporary.
  • To maintain your OPT, you must work at least 21+ hours per week in a position directly related to your field of study.
  • You do not need to have a job offer at the time of applying for OPT.

In depth information will be provided to you by the OIE at the time of OPT application. 

For any additional questions related to OPT, please contact Assistant Director of the Office of Intercultural Engagement, Patrick Nobrega at 

J-1 Exchange Students

Each year, Massachusetts Maritime Academy facilitates Global exchange programs. International students participate in these short-term exchanges by obtaining a J-1 visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. The Office of Intercultural Engagement (OIE) is the main contact all exchange students participating in these programs. From airport pickup to cultural adjustment, class scheduling, and sightseeing, the OIE is committed to supporting our exchange visitors and facilitating a positive experience for all.

Department of State's J-1 Exchange Student Info