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Stem: US Adds 22 New Fields of Study to International Student Program

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To enhance nonimmigrant student contributions in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and support the growth of the economy and innovation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Friday that 22 new subjects have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for international students.
International students on F-1 visas at US universities are eligible for the OPT, which is a temporary employment opportunity in the applicant’s primary field of study. While all international students can apply for up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their university studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their studies (post-completion), the STEM OPT program allows F-1 students to earn a bachelor’s degree. , masters, or doctorate in certain fields to stay in the United States for up to 36 months to work in their field of study. The OPT is a very popular route for Indian students to work in the United States after their studies and, according to an Open Doors survey in November 2020, which tracks the number of international students, 81,173 Indian students were enrolled in the OPT program . The November 2021 Open Doors report, however, did not track the latest figures from Indian students on OPT.
The addition of 22 fields of study will ensure that the U.S. economy benefits from students earning degrees in the United States in competitive STEM fields, according to a DHS statement.
Information about new areas of study will be communicated to schools and students through a Federal Register Notice. The 22 new fields of study are bioenergy, general forestry, forest resource production and management, human-centered technology design, cloud computing, anthropozoology, climate science, earth systems science, economics and computer science, environmental geosciences, geobiology, geography and environmental studies. , Mathematical Economics, Mathematics and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, General Data Science, General Data Analysis, Business Analysis, Data Visualization, Financial Analysis, Other Data Analysis, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods .
“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 Mayorkas. “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is increasing the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the American economy.”
DHS is also updating and issuing new guidance to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Policy Manual. USCIS updates guidance to clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest exemption for immigrant visa classification based on employment as a noncitizen or noncitizen professional graduate in the United States. exceptional abilities. Some non-citizens with an advanced degree or exceptional ability may apply for an employment-based immigrant visa classification on their own, without labor market testing and obtaining certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, if USCIS determines that waiving the labor market test is in the national interest. Updated guidelines clarify how to use the program, allowing non-nationals with the necessary skills, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to embark on a path to obtaining lawful permanent resident status in the states -United.
USCIS is also releasing an updated O-1A Nonimmigrant Status Policy Handbook for Noncitizens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Law. ‘Athletics. This update explains how USCIS determines the eligibility of O-1A applicants and, for the first time, provides examples of evidence that might meet the criteria, including for people working in STEM fields.