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US Expands List of subjects for STEM OPT

Posted on: 02/02/2022
The US government has expanded the list of subjects within the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to allow graduates within certain subject areas to stay and work in the US for up to three years, instead of just one. 
 Some 22 new fields of study have been added to the list of subjects. These fields of study include bioenergy, cloud computing, climate science, data analytics, geography and environmental studies and mathematical economics. “The added fields of study are primarily new multidisciplinary or emerging fields, and are critical in attracting talent to support US economic growth and technological competitiveness,” a statement from the White House said. 
 The OPT training program allows international graduates from any discipline to stay in the US for 18 months and work. Graduates and students who have learned from the MINT Selective Internship (OPT) subject catalog can stay for up to 3 years. 
 This addition is part of a series of changes announced by the Government to attract and retain international talent. Another change is that international students with a J1 exchange visa are also  eligible for OPT work from the previous 18 to 36 months. Again, this only applies to STEM students. 
 The  Bureau of Education and Culture of the US State Department has also created a STEM Career Entry Research Program to facilitate the exchange of researchers and postdoc researchers with the United States for training and educational purposes. The 
  department also  plans to streamline the green card process so that applicants with advanced STEM degrees can receive national interest exemptions. 
 These announcements have been welcomed by the higher education sector. Dr Esther D. Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators said: “At a time when US international student enrolment has been trending downward and other countries are making gains in attracting the world`s best and brightest, this announcement is welcome progress in the right direction.”
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