DHS Announces 22 New Fields of Study Eligible for STEM OPT

On January 21, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it updated the STEM Designated Degree Program List to add 22 new qualifying fields of study. This announcement was one of several new initiatives announced on January 21, 2022 by the Biden-Harris administration aimed at attracting and retaining international STEM talent in the United States.

The addition of 22 new fields of study to the STEM Designated Degree Program List is important because this list is used to determine whether a degree obtained by an F-1 student qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree, which is required for the F-1 student to be able to apply for a STEM optional practical training (OPT) extension. 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, meaning that a total of 36 months of OPT may be available for qualified individuals. This means that F-1 students who are eligible for a STEM OPT extension can be eligible for the annual H-1B electronic registration process at least three times during their initial OPT and subsequent STEM OPT extension. The updated STEM list includes the following additional 22 fields of study:

  • Bioenergy (03.0210)
  • Forestry, General (03.0501)
  • Forest Resources Production and Management (03.0510)
  • Human-Centered Technology Design (11.0105)
  • Cloud Computing (11.0902)
  • Anthrozoology (30.3401)
  • Climate Science (30.3501)
  • Earth Systems Science (30.3801)
  • Economics and Computer Science (30.3901)
  • Environmental Geosciences (30.4101)
  • Geobiology (30.4301)
  • Geography and Environmental Studies (30.4401)
  • Mathematical Economics (30.4901)
  • Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science (30.5001)
  • Data Science, General (30.7001)
  • Data Analytics, General (30.7101)
  • Business Analytics (30.7102)
  • Data Visualization (30.7103)
  • Financial Analytics (30.7104)
  • Data Analytics, Other (30.7199)
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology (42.2804)
  • Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods (45.0102)

Current F-1 students can refer to the current STEM list (which does not yet include the 22 new additional programs) or check with their school’s DSO (Designated School Official) to confirm if their program of study qualifies for a STEM OPT extension.

Written by Joseph Fungsang, an immigration attorney and partner-in-charge of the New York City office of [nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-1″]. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

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