Bioenergy added to DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List

By Erin Voegele | January 27, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Jan. 21 announced it has added bioenergy to the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, making certain F-1 nonimmigrant students with a bioenergy degree eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT).

The DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List is used to determine whether a degree obtained by certain F-1 nonimmigrant students following the completion of a program study that qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree as determined by DHS, allows the student to be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT. Bioenergy is one of 22 qualifying fields of study added to the list on Jan. 21.

Foreign students pursuing academic studies and/or language training programs are classified as F-1 nonimmigrants. OPT provides practical training experience that directly relates to a study’s major area of study. Upon completion of a degree program, the U.S government can authorize an F-1 study up to 12 months of OPT. F-1 students who receive an eligible bachelors, masters or doctoral STEM degree can apply for a 24-month extension of their OPT. With the DHS’s Jan. 21 notice, F-1 students with bioenergy degrees are now eligible to apply for that extension.

The DHS notice defines bioenergy as 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, including instruction in biochemical engineering, bioprocessing, bioseparations, conversion, feedstocks, economics, environmental sustainability, hydrology, and natural resource management. The field of study is comprised of STEO disciplines such as research, innovation, and development of new technologies using biological science.

A full copy of the notice is available on the Federal Register website.