In a July 12 Federal Register notice, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that Demography and Population Studies (CIP code 45.0501) is one of eight new programs being added to the DHS science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) designated degree programs list. DHS uses this list to determine if international students are eligible for an additional two years of degree-related employment in the US after graduation.
Prior to this decision, international students who earned demography-coded degrees were eligible for only one year of “Optional Practical Training” or “OPT”. With this new designation, international students with F-1 visa status will now be eligible to stay in the US for an additional two years of “STEM OPT” employment. The change takes effect immediately. Students should contact their campus international advisors for details about their eligibility.
The notice defines Demography and Population Studies as a field 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.”
Dr. Carl Schmertmann, (Florida State University, Center for Demography and Population Health) worked with the PAA leadership, including members of the Government and Public Affairs Committee, on the nomination process. In addition, Dr. Schmertmann galvanized support from members of the Association of Population Centers (APC), many of whom wrote letters endorsing PAA’s application.
“Demography truly is a STEM field, and our students should enjoy the benefits of an immigration policy designed to promote quantitative and scientific jobs,” said Dr. Schmertmann.