Visa Crunch

US Student Visa: Additional 22 Subjects Added Under STEM For International Students

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday that 22 new subjects have now been incorporated to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme for international students in order to increase the admissions of international students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as to promote economic growth and innovation.

Overseas students on F-1 visas studying at US academic institutions are eligible for OPT, which is a temporary job opportunity in the applicant’s major field of study. OPT is a popular choice for Indian students who want to work in the United States after finishing their education.

Although all international students can access for up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before and/or after completing their coursework (pre-completion), the STEM OPT programme allows F-1 students earning bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in specific fields to stay in the United States for up to 36 months to work in their field of study.

There were 81,173 Indian students registered in the OPT programme, according to a survey conducted by OpenDoors. However, the Open Doors report in November 2021 did not include the most recent data on Indian students on OPT.

According to a DHS announcement, adding 22 disciplines of study will ensure that students getting degrees in competitive STEM fields in the United States help the US economy to grow further.

Bioenergy, general forestry, forest resources production and management, human-centred technology design, cloud computing, anthrozoology, climate science, earth systems science, economics and computer science, environmental geosciences, geobiology, geography and environmental studies, mathematical economics, mathematics and atmospheric and oceanic science, general data science, general data analytics, business analytics, data visualization, financial analytics, other data analytics, industrial and organizational psychology, and social sciences, research methodology and quantitative methods, are the 22 new fields of study.

A federal register notice will be used to notify schools and students about the new topics of study.

“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said DHS secretary Mayorkas. “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the US economy.”

DHS is also updating and delivering updated policy manual guidelines to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is amending advice to explain how some STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can apply for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional non-citizen or non-citizen of exceptional ability under the national interest waiver.

If USCIS determines that the exemption of the labour market test is in the national interest, specific noncitizens with advanced degrees or extraordinary talent may self-petition for employment-based immigration status categorization without first testing the labour market and obtaining certification from the US Department of Labor.

The amended guidelines specify how to use the programme, making it easier for international students with required abilities, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to begin the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

The USCIS is also releasing a policy guideline update for non-citizens with remarkable aptitude in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics. This revision describes how USCIS analyses O-1A petitioner qualification and, for the first time, includes examples of evidence that may fulfil the requirement, particularly for individuals working in STEM fields.

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