Per an announcement in the Federal Register on July 12, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have added eight additional degree fields to those that qualify for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) 24-month STEM extension.
As of July 12, 2023, the following new fields of study now quality for OPT STEM extensions:
- Landscape Architecture
- Institutional Research
- Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician
- Composite Materials Technology/Technician
- Linguistics and Computer Science
- Developmental and Adolescent Psychology
- Geospatial Intelligence
- Demography and Population Studies
How Will These Changes Affect OPT Participants?
These changes will have no effect on those who are associated with a field of study that already allowed for an OPT STEM extension. No existing fields of study will be removed from the extension list. Those who have studied or are studying in a field that does not allow a STEM extension will continue to be limited by the current 12-month OPT total duration.
About Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment opportunity related to an F1 international student’s field of study that allows them to further their education through practical work experience.
Typically, OPT is available after the successful completion of an academic program, known as post-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is also available in certain circumstances.
The total duration of pre-completion and post-completion is 12 months. Those eligible for a 24-month STEM OPT extension can remain in OPT for a total duration of up to 36 months.
OPT is a popular program for prospective H1B visa applicants who wish to work in the USA. Many employers file H1B petitions on behalf of OPT participants once their post-completion OPT expires.
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