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

First Year/Fourth Class cadets are encouraged to enroll in a TWIC enrollment program facilitated by the Commandant of Cadets. If you are a 4/C planning on going on the sea term this winter - and you are sincere about continuing to study at Massachusetts Maritime Academy - you may register for an appointment with the Commandant’s office to visit the local TWIC enrollment center. The Commandant’s Office will arrange for group transportation to the Pocasset EC.

If you prefer to enroll on your own, make an appointment to visit an enrollment center by calling 1-855 DHS-UES1 (1-855-347-8371) Monday through Friday from 8 AM - 10 PM Eastern. 


UES Enrollment Center
50 Portside Drive, Unit F, Suite 2, 
Pocasset, MA 02559-1928. 


Friday: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM & 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM. 


Only F-1 and J-1 cadets enrolled at U.S. Merchant Marine Academy or comparable State maritime academy and sponsored by the U.S. Marine Administration (MARAD) may request a TWIC card.

Cadets must provide the following documents

  • $129.75 paid by credit card or money order
  • A complete TWIC enrollment form
  • As well as the documents below:

Canadian Citizens:

  • MARAD sponsorship letter AND
  • I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) either paper-based or electronic print-out AND
  • One of the following:
  • Canadian Passport OR
  • Nexus Card (identifying Canadian citizenship) OR
  • SENTRI Card (identifying Canadian citizenship) OR
  • FAST Card (identifying Canadian citizenship) OR
  • Enhanced Driver's License

All other nationalities, ONE of the following:

  • Foreign Passport AND Visa AND MARAD sponsorship letter OR
  • Foreign Passport AND I-797A with I-94 at the bottom (demonstrating approved change in status) AND MARAD sponsorship letter



I-94: Effective April 30, 2013, paper I-94s will no longer be issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at air and sea environments, rather an electronic record will be created upon an individual's arrival and an admission stamp will be placed on their travel document. These individuals will be able to print out an electronic I-94 ( Since automation only affects air and sea arrivals, paper I-94s will continue to be issued at the land borders. CBP will also provide paper I-94s to refugees, certain parolees, and whenever they determine the issuance of a paper form is appropriate. While traditional based I-94s will continue to be acceptable for TWIC enrollment purpose, the new I-94 electronic print-outs will now be valid as well.

MARAD sponsorship: Cadets must have their I-94 first before requesting MARAD sponsorship from Captain Marie H. Huhnke, Director of Sea Going Professional Services, STCW.

Phone: (508) 830-5071
Location: STCW/Licensing Office, Career Services, Kurz





United States citizens majoring in Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering, earn two fold credentials: A Bachelor of Science and a professional United States Coast Guard license as Third Mate or Third Assistant Engineer, both unlimited as to waters or vessel size. International students, majoring in the subjects mentioned above, receive the same degree; but instead of a United States Coast Guard license, they receive a Letter of Accreditation that confirms successful completion of training, sea service, practical demonstration of skill and satisfactory scores of the United States Coast Guard exam.

Most countries accept Massachusetts Maritime's training and credentials given. An International student must verify whether his/her home country recognizes these before attending MMA. The process to attain a coast guard license in one's home country will vary.  However, upon graduation, all international students should have all documents (diploma, certificates, transcripts etc) awarded by MMA notarized and apostilled. An "apostille" is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961.


MMA has enjoyed graduating a number of Panamanian students. Thus, we have more detailed steps to share with future graduates.

  1. Request certificates from CDR Huhnke. We will not be able to supply all certificates requested by your home country's maritime authority. Again, check the items that your home country requires to attain a license before attending MMA - know that these requirements may change annually.
  2. Request a letter of total Sea Time from CDR Huhnke
  3. Apostille MMA documents
  4. Attain a medical certificate from an AMP (Autoridad Marítima de Panamá) approved doctor (They will not accept your Medical Certificate from the USCG.)
  5. Make and keep copies of all documents
  6. Submit your license application to AMP
In Panama, there are institutions that will help you in the application process.