Psychology graduates now eligible for STEM visa extensions

Policy enables foreign students to remain in U.S. for further training and research.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the U.S. federal government, has expanded its list of STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) fields for which foreign students studying at U.S. institutions are eligible for extended visas after they receive their degrees.  Many areas of basic psychological science are now included on the list. 

Among the fields added are biopsychology, cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics, comparative psychology, developmental and child psychology, experimental psychology, physiological psychology/psychobiology, psychometrics and quantitative psychology, psychopharmacology, and social psychology.  Also added are cognitive science, educational statistics and research methods, and neuroscience. 

The ICE Optional Practical Training program enables foreign students on an F-1 (student) visa who graduate from U.S. institutions (with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree) to remain in the U.S. for continued training and work in their field of study for up to 12 months.  Students who receive a degree in one of the STEM fields appearing on the newly expanded list can remain in the U.S. for relevant training and work for an additional 17 months (for a total of 29 months).

Psychology training programs and organizations have advocated for adding psychology to the list of ICE STEM fields for the last several years. It was identified as a priority at the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Science Leadership Conference. APA praises the expansion of the list but will also continue efforts to gain inclusion for areas that still do not appear on it, including health psychology, psychopathology research, and related clinical and translational fields.

For further information, see the ICE press release and the ICE list of STEM Designated Degree Programs.