On Jan 21st, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that 22 new fields of study had been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to enhance the contributions of nonimmigrant students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and support the growth of the U.S. economy and innovation. These 22 new fields of study include Forestry, Climate Science, Geobiology, Data Science, Business Analytics, Financial Analytics, Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods and list of other fields (please refer to the link below to review the details).
This new policy has significant impact for international students in their consideration of their career choice post-graduation. Under traditional OPT, foreign students who graduate from American universities can stay and work in the U.S. for one year after graduation. During this one year OPT period, they can receive sponsorship from their employers to participate in the annual lottery for a slot in the 85,000 H-1B work visas. Due to the high uncertainty associated with this lottery, many employers purposely shun away from international graduates. For these graduates of designated STEM fields, they have three years vs. one year to participate in the lottery and thus get much higher chance to receive a work visa.
With this expanded STEM OPT program, the international students and new graduates from these 22 fields have gained access to three years OPT vs. one year and their chances to receive work visa through lottery have improved tremendously. For them, the impact of this extended STEM designated degree list is material on their career outlook in the U.S. In turn, this new policy development will also influence the choice of major for future international students.
Please refer to the original article using link https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/01/21/dhs-expands-opportunities-us-stem-professionals
For the list of newly added fields of study, please refer to the link https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/21/2022-01188/update-to-the-department-of-homeland-security-stem-designated-degree-program-list