DHS Expands List of STEM designated-degree programs

  • United States
  • 05/24/2012
  • Fowler White Boggs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension.

Under the OPT program, international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the United States are able to remain in the country and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.

The new list of STEM degree programs includes such fields as pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics, and veterinary sciences. The full list can be found here.

With almost 100 new programs added to the list, DHS announced its goal is to help bring the best, most qualified international students to the United States. The announcement builds on a series of administrative reforms designed to further the Department’s commitment to attracting international students. Information on the other reforms is available here.

Reminder: Non-immigrants Should Refrain from Name Change

While the rules for citizens and immigrants (i.e. green card holders) are different, non-immigrant visa holders are reminded to refrain from changing their names following marriage or other relevant legal matter. There is currently no mechanism through which non-immigrants are able to change their names on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents, and so a name change that does not appear on one’s DHS documentation can cause problems in obtaining a driver license and dealing with other agencies. Since immigration documents are needed to obtain a Florida Driver License, providing immigration documents in a non-immigrant’s maiden name and other documentation in a married name, for example, will result in the non-immigrant being denied a license. Non-immigrants are therefore advised to refrain from a name change until such time that they are able to travel abroad to obtain a passport and visa in the new name.

For more information on the expanded STEM list or name changes of foreign nationals, please contact Jennifer Roeper, Board Certified Immigration and Nationality Law attorney.