[Federal Register Volume 88, Number 132 (Wednesday, July 12, 2023)]

[Notices]

[Pages 44381-44383]

From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[FR Doc No: 2023-14807]

=======================================================================

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

[Docket No. ICEB-2022-0016]

RIN 1653-ZA36

Update to the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated

Degree Program List

AGENCY: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of

Homeland Security (DHS).

SUMMARY: This notice announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security

(Secretary) is amending the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List by

adding eight qualifying fields of study and a corresponding Department

of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for

each. No CIP codes from the existing list are being removed. The list

is used to determine whether a degree obtained by certain F-1

nonimmigrant students following the completion of a program of study

qualifies as a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM)

degree as determined by DHS, as required for the F-1 student to be

eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion

optional practical training (OPT).

DATES: DHS adopts the list announced in this notice as of July 12,

2023.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Snyder, Unit Chief, Policy and

Response Center Unit, Student and Exchange Visitor Program; U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th Street SW, Stop 5600,

Washington, DC 20536-5600; email: sevp@ice.dhs.gov, telephone: (703)

603-3400. This is not a toll-free number. Program information is

available at https://www.ice.gov/sevis/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What action is DHS taking under this notice?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is updating the list of

STEM fields of study that fall within the regulatory definition of

``STEM field.'' The list, known as the DHS STEM Designated Degree

Program List (``STEM list''),\1\ is used to determine whether a degree

obtained by an F-1 nonimmigrant student qualifies as a STEM degree, as

required for the F-1 nonimmigrant student to be eligible to apply for a

STEM OPT extension. The current format of the STEM list, which consists

of four primary CIP code series designated at the two-digit level, and

CIP codes in related fields designated at the six-digit level, was

established in a final rule issued in 2016.\2\ The STEM list was most

recently updated in 2022.\3\

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\1\ ICE, DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/stemList2022.pdf (last visited Oct. 25,

2022).

\2\ See 81 FR 13039, Mar. 11, 2016.

\3\ See 87 FR 3317, Jan. 21, 2022.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why is DHS taking this action?

In 2016, DHS published a final rule providing a 24-month extension

of OPT for F-1 nonimmigrant students who majored in a designated STEM

field of study. See 81 FR 13039 (March 11, 2016) (``Improving and

Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With

STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students'')

(``2016 STEM Rule''). The 2016 STEM Rule stated that DHS will continue

to accept for consideration suggested additions or deletions to the

STEM list and may publish updates to the STEM list in the Federal

Register. In 2022, DHS published a Federal Register notice announcing

the addition of 22 qualifying fields of study to the STEM list. See 87

FR 3317 (January 21, 2022) (``Update to the Department of Homeland

Security STEM Designated Degree List''). The Federal Register notice

also included instructions for how interested parties, including

members of the public, can nominate CIP codes for potential inclusion

on or removal from the STEM list. DHS received from interested parties,

including members of the public, a total of 285 nominations,

representing 120 unique fields of study, to be added to the STEM list.

DHS did not receive any nominations to remove CIP codes currently on

the list. DHS is now announcing that a number of the fields of study

submitted for consideration will be added to the STEM list.\4\

Nominators may resubmit a nomination with additional supporting views

and evidence, at any time, if their original submission is not

addressed in this notice.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\4\ While the 2016 STEM Rule provided for ``additions or

deletions to the list,'' no deletions will be made at this time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is OPT and STEM OPT?

OPT is one type of work permission available to certain F-1

nonimmigrant students. It allows eligible F-1 students (except those in

English language training programs) to obtain real-world work

experience directly related to their major area of study.

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month extension of OPT available to

F-1 nonimmigrant students who have completed 12 months of OPT and

received a degree in an approved STEM field of study as designated by

the STEM list.

Who may be impacted by this notice?

This notice may impact qualifying F-1 nonimmigrant students who

seek a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.

Where can I find the STEM list?

The STEM list can be found in the docket for this notice and on the

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website.\5\

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\5\ See SEVP, Eligible CIP Codes for the STEM OPT Extension,

https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub/additional-resources/eligible-cip-codes-for-the-stem-opt-extension (last visited Oct. 25,

2022).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

What authority does DHS have to make changes to the STEM list?

The Secretary has broad authority to administer and enforce the

Nation's immigration laws. See generally 6 U.S.C. 202; Immigration and

Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (INA), sec. 103, 8 U.S.C. 1103. The

INA establishes the F-1 nonimmigrant classification for individuals who

wish to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose

of pursuing a full course of study at an academic institution or

accredited language training school certified by the U.S. Immigration

and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) SEVP. See INA sec. 101(a)(15)(F)(i), 8

U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(F)(i). The INA provides the Secretary with broad

authority to determine the time and conditions under which

nonimmigrants, including F-1 students, may be admitted to the United

States. See INA sec. 214(a)(1), 8 U.S.C. 1184(a)(1). The Secretary also

has broad authority to determine which individuals are authorized for

[[Page 44382]]

employment in the United States. See INA sec. 274A(h)(3), 8 U.S.C.

1324a(h)(3). Finally, the Secretary, or his or her designee, has

authority to maintain the STEM list, which is a complete list of

qualifying degree program categories published on the SEVP website at

https://www.ice.gov/sevis. Changes that are made to the STEM list may

also be published in a notice in the Federal Register. See 8 CFR

214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2)(ii).

Who may nominate a CIP code?

Interested parties, including members of the public, may nominate a

CIP code for inclusion on, or removal from, the STEM list.

How does DHS assess nominations?

Nominations to add or remove degrees from the STEM list are

assessed consistent with the authorizing regulation.\6\ As defined in

the governing regulations, a STEM field is a field included in the CIP

taxonomy \7\ that falls within the two-digit series containing

engineering, biological sciences, mathematics and statistics, and

physical sciences, or a related field, which generally involves

research, innovation, or development of new technologies using

engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences

(including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences). See 8 CFR

214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2)(i). This definition is widely used by U.S.

institutions of higher education and provides an objective measure by

which to identify STEM fields of study.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\6\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2).

\7\ The CIP taxonomy is a taxonomic scheme that was developed by

the Department of Education's National Center for Education

Statistics (NCES) to support the accurate tracking and reporting of

fields of study and program completion activity. See the NCES

website (https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/Default.aspx?y=55) (last

visited Oct. 25, 2022).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Through regulation,\8\ DHS has designated four areas as core STEM

fields and lists these four areas at the two-digit CIP code level. As a

result, any new additions to those areas are automatically included on

the STEM list. These four areas are: Engineering (CIP code 14),

Biological and Biomedical Sciences (CIP code 26), Mathematics and

Statistics (CIP code 27), and Physical Sciences (CIP code 40). If a

degree is not within the four core fields, DHS considers whether the

degree is in a STEM-related field listed at the six-digit level. The

six-digit designation allows for individualized review of a specific

field of study to ensure it meets the ``related field'' criteria of

``involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies

using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences

(including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences).''

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

\8\ See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2)(i).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

SEVP evaluates submissions to assess whether the degree is

generally considered to be a STEM degree by recognized authorities,

including input from educational institutions, governmental entities,

and non-governmental entities. SEVP also reviews the National Center

for Education Statistics (NCES) definition of the CIP code, and any

supporting material submitted by the nominator, such as the required

curriculum for the degree and the extent to which it is comprised of

core STEM disciplines, as well as research, innovation, and development

of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science,

or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural

sciences). Additionally, degree requirements and curriculum may be

assessed across academic institutions to ensure that the core aspects

of the degree are sufficiently consistent among educational

institutions.

A proposed addition does not have to have all supporting elements

to be added to the STEM list. DHS assesses the totality of a submission

and may approve a proposed CIP code if the submission presents

sufficient evidence and reasoning to establish that the degree under

consideration fits within the regulatory definition of a STEM field.

How may a nomination be submitted?

Nominations may be submitted by email to the SEVP Response Center

at SEVP@ice.dhs.gov, with the subject line ``Attention: STEM CIP Code

Nomination.''

What new fields of study will be added to the STEM list?

The following fields of study are being added to the STEM list:

Landscape Architecture (04.0601) A program that prepares

individuals for the independent professional practice of landscape

architecture and research in various aspects of the field. Includes

instruction in geology and hydrology; soils, groundcovers, and

horticultural elements; project and site planning; landscape design,

history, and theory; environmental design; applicable law and

regulations; and professional responsibilities and standards. This

field of study, as described in the NCES definition, is comprised of

STEM disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new

technologies using natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Institutional Research (13.0608) A program of study that prepares

an individual to be an institutional researcher at a postsecondary

educational institution. Includes instruction in data analysis, data-

driven decision-making, data mining, higher education administration

and organization, research methods, and statistics. This is a new CIP

code added by NCES in its decennial 2020 update to the CIP. The field

of study, as described in the NCES definition, is comprised of STEM

disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new

technologies using mathematics and computer science.

Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/

Technician (15.0407) A program that prepares individuals to apply basic

engineering principles and technical skills in the support of engineers

to the design, development, and operational evaluation of autonomous,

computer-controlled, electro-mechanical systems. Includes instruction

in computer and software engineering, control engineering, electronic

and electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and robotics. This

is a new CIP code added by NCES in its decennial 2020 update to the

CIP. The field of study, as described in the NCES definition, is

comprised of STEM disciplines such as research, innovation, or

development of new technologies using engineering and computer science.

Composite Materials Technology/Technician (15.0617) A program of

study that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles

and technical skills in support of engineers and other professionals

engaged in the development, manufacture, and use of composite materials

in aircraft technology, automotive technology, boats, medical

prostheses, and wind turbines. Includes instruction in computer-aided

design and drafting, composite materials and processes, composite

maintenance, composite manufacturing, composite repair, material

science, and mold manufacturing and production. This is a new CIP code

added by NCES in its decennial 2020 update to the CIP. The field of

study, as described in the NCES definition, is comprised of STEM

disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new

technologies using engineering, physical sciences, and computer

science.

Linguistics and Computer Science (30.4801) A program that focuses

on the relationship between computer and human language and

computational

[[Page 44383]]

techniques applied to natural language. Includes instruction in

computer programming, human languages, linguistic analysis, logic,

natural language processing, semantics, machine learning,

psycholinguistics, software engineering, and syntax. This is a new CIP

code added by NCES in its decennial 2020 update to the CIP. The field

of study, as described in the NCES definition, is comprised of STEM

disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new

technologies using computer science.

Developmental and Adolescent Psychology (42.2710) A program that

focuses on the scientific study of the unique stages of psychological

growth and development of individuals from adolescence to adulthood.

Includes instruction in cognitive and perceptual development, emotional

development, personality development, the effects of biological

maturation on behavior, theories of cognitive growth and related

research methods, testing and assessment methods for different age

levels, research on child and adolescent behavior therapy, and the

psychology of aging. This is a new CIP code added by NCES in its

decennial 2020 update to the CIP. The field of study, as described in

the NCES definition, is comprised of STEM disciplines such as research,

innovation, or development of new technologies using biological

sciences.

Geospatial Intelligence (43.0407) A program that prepares

individuals to analyze security and intelligence problems using a

geographic perspective by relating human actions to cultural,

political, economic, social, and physical landscapes. Includes

instruction in aerial photography analysis, cartography, geographic

information systems (GIS), physical geography, remote sensing, spatial

programming, and quantitative methods in geographic research. This is a

new CIP code added by NCES in its decennial 2020 update to the CIP. The

field of study, as described in the NCES definition, is comprised of

STEM disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new

technologies using mathematics and computer science.

Demography and Population Studies (45.0501) A program that focuses

on the systematic study of population models and population phenomena,

and related problems of social structure and behavior. Includes

instruction in population growth, spatial distribution, mortality and

fertility factors, migration, dynamic population modeling, population

estimation and projection, mathematical and statistical analysis of

population data, population policy studies, and applications to

problems in economics and government planning. The field of study, as

described in the NCES definition, is comprised of STEM disciplines such

as research, innovation, or development of new technologies using

mathematics and computer science.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

Eligible students are required to submit a Form I-765,

``Application for Employment Authorization,'' to request employment

authorization and an Employment Authorization Document, and a Form I-

983, ``Training Plan for STEM OPT Students,'' to ensure that they are

receiving the academic and training benefits of the STEM OPT extension.

Consistent with the PRA, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has

previously approved the collection of information contained on the

current Form I-765 (OMB Control No. 1615-0040) and Form I-983 (OMB

Control No. 1653-0054). Although there could be a slight increase in

the number of filings for both the Form I-765 and Form I-983 because of

this notice, the number of filings currently contained in the OMB

annual inventory is sufficient to cover any additional filings.

Accordingly, there is no further action required under the PRA.

Alejandro N. Mayorkas,

Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

[FR Doc. 2023-14807 Filed 7-11-23; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4410-10-P