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Key Points

  • The DHS has published a notice in the Federal Register adding 22 new fields to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program
  • The STEM OPT program allows some international students to work in the US for 12 months. Students graduating with a degree in a STEM field can request an additional 24 months of work authorization
  • Each new STEM field receives a corresponding Department of Education code
  • The updated list helps determine if an F-1 nonimmigrant student classifies as STEM


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice in the Federal Register on January 21, 2022, adding 22 new qualifying fields of study to the STEM program.

What are the Changes?

International students graduating from a program of study in the US are eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for one year after they graduate. If a student graduates with a degree in a STEM field, s/he is eligible to apply for an additional two years of work authorization. The OPT program will now be expanded to include 22 more areas of study. These fields include climate science, cloud computing, anthrozoology, mathematical economics, business analytics, financial analytics, and data visualization, among others.

Along with expanding the list of qualifying STEM fields, DHS is also assigning a corresponding Department of Education Classification of Instruction Program (CIP) code to each new field. The updated list will help determine if a degree received by specific F-1 nonimmigrant students qualifies as a STEM degree, enabling them to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT.

Source: Federal Register

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