Please note: On Friday, March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security published a new rule for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension. This rule goes into effect on May 10, 2016. Please visit the STEM OPT Hub for more information.
Science, technology, engineering and math degree programs are known as STEM, a term you may often hear. The U.S. government considers STEM a priority and encourages students to study in these programs. One example of a government effort to encourage STEM studies is the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative utilizes doctors, scientists, engineers and researchers in STEM fields to enhance our understanding of the brain.
How do you know if your degree program is a qualified STEM field? You can check on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) list of designated STEM degree programs, which was expanded in 2012. This list includes fields like pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics, and quantitative economics. Students from these different STEM fields qualify for certain continued learning opportunities through things like employment and internships. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program are eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months on an optional practical training (OPT) STEM extension. You may qualify if:
- The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed here on ICE.gov.
- The employer from which you are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program.
- You have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT.
Do your STEM studies support understanding of the brain? Tell the White House how your studies support the BRAIN Initiative’s goals by emailing email@example.com by May 1, 2014. If you have questions about STEM fields or how to apply for OPT, talk to your designated school official.