ATEC sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, asking the government agency to add a list of aviation maintenance programs to the Department’s STEM Designated Degree Program List. The letter follows an earlier effort to education the While House on the issue.
While some Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes utilized by A&P programs are already included on the list, the CIP codes most often used for aviation maintenance programs are absent. The trade association argued that FAA-certificated programs have as much, if not more, STEM-related content than a number of other disciplines DHS designates as STEM.
The U.S. Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows foreign nationals holding an F1 student visa to obtain employment, while in school or directly after graduation, for up to 12 months. Students that earn a degree designated as a DHS “STEM field of study” may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT Extension, allowing an international student to work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation.
The change would effectively give foreign national A&P students more opportunity for experience in the U.S., and provide a steady flow of new entrants to support the aviation industry, which could lead to further employer-based extensions through another visa program.
The DHS designation is targeted at degree programs, but non-degree programs could also benefit from "trickle down" effects since many state-based and funding programs use federal STEM CIP designations as the basis for their own criteria. The effort will also spring board similar initiatives targeted at Department of Labor STEM designations.
The DHS List is updated periodically with no particular timetable set for the next revision. Stakeholders are encouraged to submit a letter of support for the request. A letter template can be downloaded in a Word format, below.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.