New STEM Fields but Landmine Immigration System Persists

ICE Expands STEM Fields, Offering More Opportunities for International Students on OPT

The recent addition of new STEM fields by ICE has brought excitement among international students, as it means expanded opportunities for Optional Practical Training (OPT). However, it is essential to consider the existing backlog in the US immigration system for certain passports. While the inclusion of these new fields is noteworthy, experts advise caution before getting too enthusiastic about the prospects they offer.

The newly added STEM fields include:

  1. Landscape Architecture (04.0601) – #landscapearchitecture
  2. Institutional Research (13.0608) – #research
  3. Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician (15.0407) – A #robotics
  4. Composite Materials Technology/Technician (15.0617)
  5. Linguistics and Computer Science (30.4801) – #computerscience
  6. Developmental and Adolescent Psychology (42.2710)
  7. Geospatial Intelligence (43.0407)
  8. Demography and Population Studies (45.0501)

As we previously mentioned, the fields were added on page 5, and the expansion of STEM fields brings about promising changes for international students. However, it is crucial to be mindful of the challenges posed by the immigration system’s backlog, particularly for certain passport holders.

“On January 21, 2022, DOS and DHS announced new actions related to STEM work authorization, J-1 Researchers, National Interest Waivers (NIWs), and O-1 Extraordinary Ability Workers. According to the BidenHarris administration, “These actions will allow international STEM talent to continue to make meaningful contributions to America’s scholarly, research and development, and innovation communities.”1 On the same day, the Biden-Harris administration introduced new STEM fields, wherein the DHS expanded opportunities in the U.S. for STEM Professionals. The 22 new fields of study are bioenergy, general forestry, forest resources production and management, human-centered 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.” DHS Notice Adding 22 Qualifying Fields of Study to STEM Designated Degree Program List (January 21, 2022) AILA Doc. No. 22012052.

The list was updated today and is available on https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/stemList2022.pdf