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DHS Designates Additional Degree Fields for STEM OPT Program

The F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) program will be expanded to include eight new degree fields, including linguistics and computer science; mechatronics, robotics and automation engineering; and geospatial intelligence. The additions take effect today. The expansion of the STEM OPT degree list is the latest step in the Biden Administration’s ongoing initiative to attract and retain foreign STEM talent.

The issue

The Department of Homeland Security has added eight new fields to the list of academic degrees eligible for the F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) program.

The STEM OPT program, which allows F-1 students with a qualifying STEM degree to hold OPT work authorization for up to 36 months – will be expanded to include the following fields and Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes effective today:

  • Composite Materials Technology/Technician (CIP 15.0617)
  • Demography and Population Studies (CIP 45.0501)
  • Developmental and Adolescent Psychology (CIP 42.2710)
  • Geospatial Intelligence (CIP 43.0407)
  • Institutional Research (CIP 13.0608)
  • Landscape Architecture (CIP 04.0601)
  • Linguistics and Computer Science (CIP 30.4801)
  • Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician (CIP 15.0407)

Nominations for future expansion of the STEM degree list

In January 2022, the Department of Homeland Security added 22 fields of study to the STEM list and unveiled a process whereby interested parties could nominate degree fields for inclusion on the STEM OPT list.  Today’s announcement marks the first expansion of the degree list since DHS opened nominations to the public, and also reemphasizes DHS’s continuing commitment to consider additional fields for inclusion in the STEM program. 

The agency accepts nominations of fields in four core STEM areas, including engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences.  In addition, DHS will consider related fields that involve research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (which includes physical, biological, and agricultural sciences).

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