The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has added 22 new fields of study to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for enhancing contributions of nonimmigrant students studying STEM subjects.
The program allows F-1 visa students earning bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in certain STEM fields to remain in the U.S. for up to 36 months to work in their fields of study.
“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the U.S. economy.”
The additional 22 fields of study will help ensure the U.S. economy benefits from students earning degrees in the U.S. in STEM fields.
Additionally, DHS is updating and issuing new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy manual guidance to “clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability.”
Relatedly, the Biden-Harris Administration released a fact sheet today on actions the administration is taking to attract STEM talent. The fact sheet details actions from the Departments of State and Homeland Security to advance predictability and clarity for pathways for international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts.
In addition to DHS’ 22 new fields of study included in the OPT, the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs is announcing an Early Career STEM Research Initiative to facilitate non-immigrant BridgeUSA exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to engage in STEM research.