More immigration news is coming your way. This week important updates have been released for F-1 students seeking post-completion Optional Practical Training in certain STEM-related fields of study.
DHS Issues Advance Copy of STEM Designated Degree Program List for post-completion Optional Practical Training
If you are an international student studying in F-1 visa status in the United States, this update may be of interest to you. Today, January 20, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security released an advance copy of the Federal Notice, “Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Program List,” which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, Friday, January 21, 2022.
With this notice, DHS has indicated that the agency will be adding 22 qualifying fields of study to the STEM Designated Degree Program List. This change is significant because DHS relies on the STEM Degree Program List to determine whether an F-1 international student has obtained a degree in a program of study that qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree, to seek employment in the United States following graduation.
What is post-completion OPT?
F-1 students that have earned a degree in a qualifying STEM field, are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing their studies. Those authorized for post-completion OPT can work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
For those who participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS reduces the amount of time that an individual is eligible to participate in post-completion OPT by deducting from the authorization period. For example, students you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, would only be eligible for up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
Who is impacted by this notice?
This notice impacts qualifying F-1 nonimmigrant students who seek a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT who have earned a degree in a STEM field of study as designated by the STEM list.
What are the 22 qualifying fields of study being added to the STEM list?
- Bioenergy (03.0210). A program of study that focuses on the environmental and economic impact of using plants and microbes for the production of bio-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Includes instruction in biochemical engineering, bioprocessing, bioseparations, conversion, feedstock, economics, environmental sustainability, hydrology, and natural resource management.
- Forestry, General (03.0501). A program that generally prepares individuals to manage and develop forest areas for economic, recreational, and ecological purposes. Includes instruction in forest related sciences, mapping, statistics, harvesting and production technology, natural resources management and economics, wildlife sciences, administration, and public relations
- Forest Resources Production and Management (03.0510). A program that focuses on the application of forestry principles to the production, harvesting, and processing of forest resources and that prepares individuals to perform associated technical and managerial functions. Includes instruction in forest production and utilization, industrial forestry, agroforestry, transplantation, timber harvesting, selection and identification of trees, processing technologies and systems, equipment operations and maintenance, and related management skills.
- Human-Centered Technology Design (11.0105). A program that focuses on incorporating a human perspective into designing, researching, and creating technological interfaces. Includes instruction in design, human-computer interaction, learning, neuroscience, perception, product design, user centered design, and usability.
- Cloud Computing (11.0902). A program that prepares individuals to design and implement enterprise software systems that rely on distributed computing and service-oriented architecture, including databases, web services, cloud computing, and mobile apps. Includes instruction in data management, distributed and cloud computing, enterprise software architecture, enterprise and cloud security, mobile systems and applications, server administration, and web development.
- Anthrozoology (30.3401). A program of study that combines anthropology and zoology in order to examine the relationship between animals and humans. Includes instruction in animal behavior and communication, animal welfare, animal conservation, animal training, animal-assisted therapy techniques, biology, ethics, and education.
- Climate Science (30.3501). A program that focuses on the scientific study of the climate system of the earth with emphasis on the physical, dynamical, and chemical interactions of the atmosphere, ocean, land, ice, and the terrestrial and marine biospheres. Includes instruction in biology, chemistry, climate analysis, climate change adaptation/mitigation, climate policy, ecology, energy development, environmental impacts, marine chemistry, meteorology, and oceanography.
- Earth Systems Science (30.3801). A program that focuses on the interaction of the Earth’s oceanographic, atmospheric, and terrestrial systems. Includes instruction in biogeochemistry, climate dynamics, geographical information science (GIS), geophysics, hydrology, landscape ecology, meteorology, and satellite remote sensing analysis.
- Economics and Computer Science (30.3901). A program of study that focuses on the theoretical and practical connections between computer science and economics. Includes instruction in data analysis, database design, data mining, computer algorithms, economics, econometrics, computer programing, mathematics, and statistics.
- Environmental Geosciences (30.4101). A program that focuses on the scientific study of the environmental implications of geological processes and human activities on Earth. Includes instruction in environmental/natural resource management, geographic information systems (GIS), geology, hydrology, regulatory agency compliance, hazard identification and mitigation, environmental law, environmental policy, and sustainability studies.
- Geobiology (30.4301). A program that focuses on the scientific study of how living things interact with geological systems. Includes instruction in evolution of Earth systems, geochemistry, geology, geomicrobiology, marine chemistry, paleobiology, paleoecology, paleontology, and petrology
- Geography and Environmental Studies (30.4401). A program that focuses on interactions between people and the natural and built environments. Includes instruction in climate science, sustainability, environmental science and policy, research methods, geographic information systems (GIS), human geography, physical geography, remote sensing, and public policy.
- Mathematical Economics (30.4901). A program that focuses on the application of mathematical methods to the development of economic theory, models, and quantitative analysis. Includes instruction in data analysis, applied business economics, calculus, econometrics, linear algebra, microeconomic theory, probability, and statistical methods.
- Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science (30.5001). A program that focuses on the application of mathematics to atmospheric and oceanic problems. Includes instruction in chemistry, physics, atmospheric/ocean dynamics, climatology, weather simulation, climate modeling, mathematics, oceanography, and atmospheric science.
- Data Science, General (30.7001). A program that focuses on the analysis of large-scale data sources from the interdisciplinary perspectives of applied statistics, computer science, data storage, data representation, data modeling, mathematics, and statistics. Includes instruction in computer algorithms, computer programming, data management, data mining, information policy, information retrieval, mathematical modeling, quantitative analysis, statistics, trend spotting, and visual analytics.
- Data Analytics, General (30.7101). A program that prepares individuals to apply data science to generate insights from data and identify and predict trends. Includes instruction in computer databases, computer programming, inference, machine learning, optimization, probability and stochastic models, statistics, strategy, uncertainty quantification, and visual analytics.
- Business Analytics (30.7102). A program that prepares individuals to apply data science to solve business challenges. Includes instruction in machine learning, optimization methods, computer algorithms, probability and stochastic models, information economics, logistics, strategy, consumer behavior, marketing, and visual analytics.
- Data Visualization (30.7103). A program that prepares individuals to organize and derive meaning from data by using visual presentation tools and techniques. Includes instruction in cognitive science, computer programming, data management, data visualization theory, graphic design, infographics, perceptual psychology, statistics, and visual design.
- Financial Analytics (30.7104). A program that focuses on financial big data modeling from algorithms to cloud-based data-driven financial technologies. Includes instruction in financial analytics, financial data processing, knowledge management, data visualization, effective decision communication, machine learning for finance, statistical inference and dynamic modeling on financial data, and project management
- Data Analytics, Other (30.7199). Any instructional program in data analytics not listed above
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology (42.2804). A program that focuses on the scientific study of individual and group behavior in institutional settings, applications to related problems of organization and industry, and that may prepare individuals to apply such principles in industrial and organizational settings. Includes instruction in group behavior theory, organizational theory, reward/punishment structures, human-machine and human-computer interactions, motivation dynamics, human stress studies, environmental and organizational influences on behavior, alienation and satisfaction, and job testing and assessment.
- Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods (45.0102). A program that focuses on the design of research studies, measurement of variables, data analysis, and formulation of models. Includes instruction in experimental, quasi-experimental, and case study methods; historical research; participant observation; questionnaire design; sampling theory; and statistical methods.
Where can I find out more information?
You may find an advance copy of the unpublished notice here. The official publication will be posted tomorrow January 21, 2022, in the Federal Register.
Need assistance filing your post-completion OPT? We would be happy to discuss your eligibility. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
- Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree program List
- STEM Degree Program List
- Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
- February 2022 Visa Bulletin
- Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
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