DHS Recognizes Forestry as STEM
February 8, 2022
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced
22 new fields of study -- including forestry and forest resources production and management -- have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to enhance the contributions of nonimmigrant students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and support the growth of the US economy and innovation.
In the Federal Register Notice
, SAF accreditation standards (specifically, curricular requirements) were cited as supporting this important recognition from DHS.
DHS press release excerpt:
“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the US economy.”
The STEM OPT program permits F-1 students earning bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in certain STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to work in their field of study. Adding 22 fields of study will ensure the US economy benefits from students earning degrees in the United States in competitive STEM fields. Information on the new fields of study will be communicated to schools and students through a Federal Register notice.
DHS is also updating and issuing new US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy manual guidance. USCIS is updating guidance to clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability.
Forestry fields added to the STEM list:
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. 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 biological science. Forestry, General is classified as STEM by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Science Foundation. This CIP code nomination included the Society of American Foresters' curricular requirements, which demonstrated instruction in STEM disciplines.
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. 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 biological science. Forest Resources Production and Management is classified as STEM by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Science Foundation. This CIP code nomination included the Society of American Foresters' curricular requirements, which demonstrated instruction in STEM disciplines.