STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fields
STEM & OPT Extension:
Overview: STEM fields is an acronym for the fields of study in the categories
of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The acronym is in use
regarding access to work visas for immigrants who are skilled in these
fields.The initiative began to address the perceived lack of qualified
candidates for high-tech jobs.
Full list of STEM majors(PDF)(last updated: May 11, 2012).
On April 4, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an interim final rule extending the period of OPT from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students.
The extension will be available to students who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program or that make use of valid work permits and social security. E-Verify is a free internet-based system operated by USCIS in partnership with the Social Security Administration which determines a new employee's eligibility to work.
To be eligible for the 12-month permit, any degree in any field of studies is valid. For the 17-month OPT extension, a student must have received a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics degree in one of the nearly four hundreds of majors
This new interim final rule provides a permanent solution to the H-1B "cap-gap", when an academic foreign student's (F-1) status and work authorization expire during the current fiscal year before the student can start approved H-1B employment during the next fiscal year beginning on October 1. Previous cap-gap provisions extended only the stay but not the employment authorization.
On May 11 2012, The Department of Homeland Security announced it is expanding the list of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs that qualify international students for an OPT extension.
About 400 majors are now on STEM list and eligible for OPT extension! According to DHS, "By expanding the list of designated STEM degree programs to include such fields as pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics and quantitative economics, the Department is helping bring the best, most qualified international students to the United States".
Please click here to view the updated list of STEM majors(PDF)
STEM & Green Card:
Multiple bills have been proposed in congress to grant STEM graduates green card. More details coming soon!
Last Updated: 8/29/2014.