DHS' Final Rule for Additional Work Authorization for STEM Graduates - Wisconsin Immigration Attorneys

In March 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a new final rule for foreign graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The new rule allows up to 24 additional months of F-1 Optional Practical Training work authorization.

What Does the Additional Work Authorization for STEM Graduates Include?

Students who hold F-1 immigration status and have graduated with a degree in one of the STEM fields can extend their original period of OPT, or optional practical training, which was 12 months. With the new rule, STEM graduates can remain for a total of 36 months.

Eligibility for STEM Extension

In order for F-1 students to be eligible for the STEM extension, they must be employed by employers that participate in E-Verify. Under this new rule, employers are also required to implement formal training plans, as well as add wage protections and take other steps for both STEM grads and U.S. workers.

The companies that participate in E-Verify must only employ individuals who are legally allowed to work in the U.S., which can include U.S. citizens and foreign citizens who have the appropriate authorization.

What are STEM Fields?

According to U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement, STEM fields include:

  • Physics
  • Actuarial science
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Mathematics and applied mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Computer science
  • Computational science
  • Psychology
  • Biochemistry
  • Robotics
  • Computer engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electronics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Industrial engineering
  • Information science
  • Civil engineering
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Astrophysics
  • Astronomy
  • Optics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Nuclear physics
  • Mathematical biology
  • Operations research
  • Neurobiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Acoustical engineering
  • Geographic information systems
  • Atmospheric sciences
  • Educational and instructional technology
  • Software engineering
  • Educational research

People who have a nonimmigrant F-1 visa, which is designed for those who wish to study in the U.S. (at any grade level), are eligible for the OPT extension. Typically, F-1 visas are available to people who want to attend:

  • A university or college
  • High school
  • Private elementary school
  • Seminary
  • Conservatory
  • Other academic institutions, such as language training programs

Do You Need Help With an F-1 Visa or OPT?

If you’re interested in securing an F-1 visa or you need guidance on extending your OPT, we can help.

Call our Wisconsin immigration lawyers at 414-383-6700 or get in touch with us online. We’ll evaluate your case and help you move forward.