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10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia MD, 21044
Laurel College Center
312 Marshall Avenue, Suite 205
Laurel, MD 20707
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Maryland Innovation Center
6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia MD 21046
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Off-Campus Employment and Optional Practical Training

Off-Campus Employment

Working off-campus is considered a violation of F1 status unless authorization has been granted by the Department of Homeland Security.  F1 students are eligible to request off-campus employment after maintaining F1 status for one full academic year.  Permission must be requested from and granted by the Department of Homeland Security before employment may begin.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment experience related to the student’s major area of study.  Students must have maintained F1 status for one full academic year before being eligible to request OPT.  It is not necessary to have an employment offer prior to requesting OPT, but students will need to show how the job they are seeking is directly related to their major.  Permission to request OPT is granted by a Designated School Official, but the OPT employment authorization is granted by the Department of Homeland Security.

The OPT requested may be full-time or part-time, depending on when the student chooses the work experience.  In both cases, the employment must be directly related to student’s major.  A total of one year of full-time OPT is available to F1 students for each level of education.

The full-time OPT option is available if it is requested for vacation periods or if it is after completion of the course of study.  Part-time OPT (20 hours per week) is available for students who have not completed their degree, but wish to gain work experience while they continue their full-time studies.  Part-time OPT hours are counted toward the maximum one-year of OPT that is allowed.

To apply for OPT, please begin by attending an OPT Information Session, which are offered by HCC's international staff throughout each major semester.

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