OPT STEM Extension: DHS Expands List Of STEM Degree Programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension [OPT STEM extension]. The expanded list of designated STEM degree programs includes fields such as Pharmaceutical Sciences; Health/Medical Physics; Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology; Educational Evaluation and Research; Air Science/Airpower Studies; Archeology; and many other fields.

The OPT program allows qualified international students, who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States, to remain in US 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. Generally, international students may be eligible for the 17 month OPT STEM extension if:

  • the degree for their current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program;
  • the employer from whom they are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program; and
  • they have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT.
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