The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List by adding eight qualifying fields of study.
“The list is used to determine whether a degree obtained by certain F-1 nonimmigrant students following the completion of a program of study qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree as determined by DHS, as required for the F-1 student to be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT),” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
In 2022, DHS published a Federal Register notice announcing the addition of 22 qualifying fields of study to the STEM list.
The Federal Register notice also shared instructions for how members of the public can nominate new majors for potential inclusion on or removal from the STEM list.
OPT vs STEM OPT?
OPT is one type of work permission available to certain F-1 nonimmigrant students. It allows eligible F-1 students (except those in English language training programs) to obtain real-world work experience directly related to their major area of study.
The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month extension of OPT available to F-1 nonimmigrant students who have completed 12 months of OPT and received a degree in an approved STEM field of study as designated by the STEM list.
What new fields of study will be added to the STEM list?
Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician
Composite Materials Technology/Technician
Linguistics and Computer Science
Developmental and Adolescent Psychology
Demography and Population Studies
Eligible students need to submit a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” to request employment authorization and an Employment Authorization Document, and a Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students,” to ensure that they are receiving the academic and training benefits of the STEM OPT extension.
Who may be impacted by this?
This notice may impact qualifying F-1 nonimmigrant students who seek a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.
Where can I find the STEM list?
The STEM list can be found in the docket for this notice and on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website.5