Master of Accounting, STEM OPT, and H1B - Impact?

Hi everyone,

My case is a bit unconventional. I got a bachelor degree in Accounting in the US. I’m in a Master of Accounting program right now, also in the US. However, in order to qualify the degree as STEM, my school uses the code of “Mathematical Finance” on my I-20, instead of Accounting. My questions are:

  1. My understanding is that I should be able to get my initial OPT, as well as STEM extension if needed, with my master’s degree, despite the possible mismatch between my job (auditor) and my degree (math finance). Is this right? To clarify, my degree will be Master of Accounting and Data Analytics, but on my I-20, it’s Math Finance, and I assume that whatever is on my I-20 is what matters.

  2. On the other hand, it may be harder to do this when filing for the H1B visa, and my chance of getting RFE is likely to be high due to the mismatch?

  3. Given those facts, my best chance would be to use my Master’s for STEM extension, but sticks with my bachelor degree (in Accounting) for H1B (when applying for a second/third time if I didn’t get picked in the first time)? If so, do they question as to why I got my Master’s but keep using my Bachelor’s to apply?

I hope you all can help me with these concerns. I’ve been researching about them for a while but couldn’t find any case similar to mine.

Thank you!

  1. Well, it is not just what is on the CIP code that matters, it is also the job you do and the job duties, including how that supports your role…for STEM OPT, yes, I-20 is the key document, but they are closely tied to your role and you need to have something that justifies that.
  2. You need to select the right SOC code for the role and also the job also should be tailored to meet your profile…You may not need to use your masters thing, but just look at bachelors one for the role…talk to attorney on this.
  3. It is not just about getting extension of STEM OPT, but you need to maintain status by working in the same area, so in future, if they believe you have not maintained status, then you are in trouble…so discuss with attorney on how to handle this.