By: Vandana Marath
The Secretary of Homeland Security is adding 22 new qualifying fields of study to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) STEM Designated Degree Program List for degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The list of qualifying fields is used to determine if an F-1 student is eligible for a STEM 24-month extension of optional practical training (OPT), which provides work authorization. This update means that more students will be eligible for STEM OPT extensions.
The updated list will include a new Department of Education Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code for each new field.
The OPT program provides up to 12 months of work authorization for qualifying F-1 students to gain real-world experience in their field of study. International students in designated STEM degree programs can extend their OPT by 24 months if they have already completed 12 months of OPT.
DHS previously published a Final Rule in 2016 allowing a 24-month extension of OPT for F-1 students in certain STEM fields. After publication, the public suggested 97 additional fields they believed would benefit from the policy.
NEw Fields of study
The new fields of study added to the list of qualifying STEM fields in January 2022 include:
- Business Analytics
- Cloud Computing
- Climate Science
- Data Science, General
- Data Analytics, General
- Data Visualization
- Earth Systems Science
- Economics and Computer Science
- Environmental Geosciences
- Financial Analytics, other
- Forest Resources Production and Management
- Forestry, General
- Geography and Environmental Studies
- Human-Centered Technology Design
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Mathematical Economics
- Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science
- Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)
- Social Sciences, Research Methodology, and Quantitative Methods
nominating a cip code
Members of the public can nominate new CIP codes to be included or removed from the list. DHS reviews all nominations. A field is considered for the STEM extension if it falls within the two-digit series of the CIP taxonomies under engineering (CIP code 14), biological and biomedical sciences (CIP code 26), mathematics and statistics (CIP code 27), physical sciences (CIP code 40), or a related field. Related fields can include research, innovation, technological development, and more.
To submit a field for consideration, email the SEVP response center at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov. The email must have the subject line “Attention: STEM CIP Code Nomination” to be considered.
If you have any questions regarding the list of fields that qualify for the STEM OPT extension, or for assistance in managing work authorization, contact a member of your Chugh LLP, immigration team.