A Department of Homeland Security press release just announced it has expanded the list of STEM college and university degree programs. STEM degrees are bachelor degrees and above in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. These degrees qualify eligible graduates who are in the US on student visas to obtain extensions of optional practical training. The OPT program allows international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States to remain in the US in F-1 student status and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.
Some fields of study the DHS added to the STEM list include pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics, and quantitative economics. DHS hopes this will help bring the best and most qualified international students to the US. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said, “Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation’s economic, scientific and technological competitiveness.”
In the press release, DHS maintains that the Obama administration has an “ongoing commitment to promote policies that embrace talented students from other countries, who come to study in our finest colleges and universities and enrich the nation by allowing highly skilled foreign graduates to extend their post-graduate training in the United States and work in their field of study upon graduation.”