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May 13, 2011—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expanded the list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas to request extensions for Optional Practical Training (OPT). The expansion, part of the Obama Administration’s effort to update the nation’s immigration system, will grow the pool of talented, highly skilled graduates in the science and technology fields.
Agricultural and related sciences, neuroscience, medical informatics, pharmaceutics and drug design, mathematics and computer science are of the some of fields now eligible under the expansion, according information released on DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
Expanding the list has been a top priority of the Academic Programs Section of APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly. APS and APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs worked through USDA and DHS to secure this change in policy.
The OTP extension will address shortages in certain high-tech sectors of talented scientists and technology experts by permitting skilled foreign graduates who wish to work in their field of study upon graduation and extend their post-graduate training in the United States. Under the new rules, foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities are able to remain in the U.S. and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate with one of the newly-expanded STEM degrees can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.
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