Biden announces STEM changes for F-1, J-1, O-1A and National Interest Waivers

24 January 2022

Students in the following fields will be able to obtain STEM OPT extensions for 24 months:

  1. Bioenergy. (03.0210) A program of study that focuses on the environmental and economic impact of using plants and microbes for the production of biobased fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. Includes instruction in biochemical engineering, bioprocessing, bioseparations, conversion, feedstock, economics, environmental sustainability, hydrology, and natural resource management
  2. Forestry, General (03.0501). A program that generally prepares individuals to manage and develop forest areas for economic, recreational, and ecological purposes. Includes instruction in forest-related sciences, mapping, statistics, harvesting and production technology, natural resources management and economics, wildlife sciences, administration, and public relations.
  3. Forest Resources Production and Management (03.0510). A program that focuses on the application of forestry principles to the production, harvesting, and processing of forest resources and that prepares individuals to perform associated technical and managerial functions. Includes instruction in forest production and utilization, industrial forestry, agroforestry, transplantation, timber harvesting, selection and identification of trees, processing technologies and systems, equipment operations and maintenance, and related management skills.
  4. Human-Centered Technology Design (11.0105). A program that focuses on incorporating a human perspective into designing, researching, and creating technological interfaces. Includes instruction in design, human-computer interaction, learning, neuroscience, perception, product design, usercentered design, and usability.
  5. Cloud Computing (11.0902). A program that prepares individuals to design and implement enterprise software systems that rely on distributed computing and service-oriented architecture, including databases, web services, cloud computing, and mobile apps. Includes instruction in data management, distributed and cloud computing, enterprise software architecture, enterprise and cloud security, mobile systems and applications, server administration, and web development.
  6. Anthrozoology (30.3401). A program of study that combines anthropology and zoology in order to examine the relationship between animals and humans. Includes instruction in animal behavior and communication, animal welfare, animal conservation, animal training, animal-assisted therapy techniques, biology, ethics, and education.
  7. Climate Science (30.3501). A program that focuses on the scientific study of the climate system of the earth with emphasis on the physical, dynamical, and chemical interactions of the atmosphere, ocean, land, ice, and the terrestrial and marine biospheres. Includes instruction in biology, chemistry, climate analysis, climate change adaptation/mitigation, climate policy, ecology, energy development, environmental impacts, marine chemistry, meteorology, and oceanography
  8. Earth Systems Science (30.3801). A program that focuses on the interaction of the Earth’s oceanographic, atmospheric, and terrestrial systems. Includes instruction in biogeochemistry, climate dynamics, geographical information science (GIS), geophysics, hydrology, landscape ecology, meteorology, and satellite remote sensing analysis.
  9. Economics and Computer Science (30.3901). A program of study that focuses on the theoretical and practical connections between computer science and economics. Includes instruction in data analysis, database design, data mining, computer algorithms, economics, econometrics, computer programing, mathematics, and statistics.
  10. Environmental Geosciences (30.4101). A program that focuses on the scientific study of the environmental implications of geological processes and human activities on Earth. Includes instruction in environmental/natural resource management, geographic information systems (GIS), geology, hydrology, regulatory agency compliance, hazard identification and mitigation, environmental law, environmental policy, and sustainability studies.
  11. Geobiology (30.4301). A program that focuses on the scientific study of how living things interact with geological systems. Includes instruction in evolution of Earth systems, geochemistry, geology, geomicrobiology, marine chemistry, paleobiology, paleoecology, paleontology, and petrology.
  12. Geography and Environmental Studies (30.4401). A program that focuses on interactions between people and the natural and built environments. Includes instruction in climate science, sustainability, environmental science and policy, research methods, geographic information systems (GIS), human geography, physical geography, remote sensing, and public policy.
  13. Mathematical Economics (30.4901). A program that focuses on the application of mathematical methods to the development of economic theory, models, and quantitative analysis. Includes instruction in data analysis, applied business economics, calculus, econometrics, linear algebra, microeconomic theory, probability, and statistical methods.
  14. Mathematics and Atmospheric/ Oceanic Science (30.5001). A program that focuses on the application of mathematics to atmospheric and oceanic problems. Includes instruction in chemistry, physics, atmospheric/ ocean dynamics, climatology, weather simulation, climate modeling, mathematics, oceanography, and atmospheric science.
  15. Data Science, General (30.7001). A program that focuses on the analysis of large-scale data sources from the interdisciplinary perspectives of applied statistics, computer science, data storage, data representation, data modeling, mathematics, and statistics. Includes instruction in computer algorithms, computer programming, data management, data mining, information policy, information retrieval, mathematical modeling, quantitative analysis, statistics, trend spotting, and visual analytics.
  16. Data Analytics, General (30.7101). A program that prepares individuals to apply data science to generate insights from data and identify and predict trends. Includes instruction in computer databases, computer programming, inference, machine learning, optimization, probability and stochastic models, statistics, strategy, uncertainty quantification, and visual analytics.
  17. Business Analytics (30.7102). A program that prepares individuals to apply data science to solve business challenges. Includes instruction in machine learning, optimization methods, computer algorithms, probability and stochastic models, information economics, logistics, strategy, consumer behavior, marketing, and visual analytics.
  18. Data Visualization (30.7103). A program that prepares individuals to organize and derive meaning from data by using visual presentation tools and techniques. Includes instruction in cognitive science, computer programming, data management, data visualization theory, graphic design, infographics, perceptual psychology, statistics, and visual design.
  19. Financial Analytics (30.7104). A program that focuses on financial big data modeling from algorithms to cloud-based data-driven financial technologies. Includes instruction in financial analytics, financial data processing, knowledge management, data visualization, effective decision communication, machine learning for finance, statistical inference and dynamic modeling on financial data, and project management.
  20. Data Analytics, Other (30.7199). Any instructional program in data analytics not listed above.
  21. Industrial and Organizational Psychology (42.2804). A program that focuses on the scientific study of individual and group behavior in institutional settings, applications to related problems of organization and industry, and that may prepare individuals to apply such principles in industrial and organizational settings. Includes instruction in group behavior theory, organizational theory, reward/ punishment structures, human-machine and human-computer interactions, motivation dynamics, human stress studies, environmental and organizational influences on behavior, alienation and satisfaction, and job testing and assessment.
  22. Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods (45.0102). A program that focuses on the design of research studies, measurement of variables, data analysis, and formulation of models. Includes instruction in experimental, quasi-experimental, and case study methods; historical research; participant observation; questionnaire design; sampling theory; and statistical methods


21 January 2022

The Biden administration has today announced changes in immigration policy treatment of STEM fields that provide welcome opportunities to the people holding F-1 and J-1 visas in the United States.

These changes also impact applicants for:

  • O-1A visa as foreign nationals of extraordinary ability. The updated changes provide examples of evidence that may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria and discusses considerations that are relevant to evaluating such evidence, with a focus on the highly technical nature of STEM fields and the complexity of the evidence often submitted.
  • National Interest Waivers (NIW), as applicants for a green card based upon a demonstration that the intended immigrant will serve the national interest of the United States. The policy update clarifies how the national interest waiver can be used for persons with advanced degrees in STEM fields and entrepreneurs, as well as the significance of letters from governmental and quasi-governmental entities. Note that for persons born in countries with green card backlogs like India, NIW is not particularly attractive because it falls under the severely backlogged employment-based category 2 (EB-2).

F-1 Visa Holders

The F-1 visa holders now have an additional 22 fields of study that will be under the STEM designations. This will allow the students in these fields the opportunity to receive STEM extension if they have a job in the field. The policy notes:

Information on the new fields of study will be communicated to schools and students in a forthcoming Federal Register notice. The added fields of study are primarily new multidisciplinary or emerging fields, and are critical in attracting talent to support U.S. economic growth and technological competitiveness.

J-1 Visa Holders

The policy notes: This will allow the students in these fields the opportunity to receive STEM extension if they have a job in the field. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is announcing an “Early Career STEM Research Initiative,” to facilitate non-immigrant BridgeUSA exchange visitors coming to the United States to engage in STEM research through research, training or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. ECA is also announcing new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on the J-1 visa for periods of up to 36 months. 

This is a developing situation. We will be updating it frequently as more information becomes available.


Nonimmigrant Visas

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