The Biden Government has announced a few immigration actions being taken to attract and retain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent in the United States. The goal of these actions is to make the United States a more attractive option for students studying STEM and for STEM workers & professionals.
Early Career STEM Research Initiative and J-1 Extensions in STEM Workers & Fields
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is launching the Early Career STEM Research Initiative to help bring foreign nationals. To the U.S. via the J-1 exchange visitor program to engage in STEM research. The DOS is also allowing J-1 exchange visitors enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate STEM program to get up to 36 extra months of academic training.
Additional Fields of Study to Qualify for STEM OPT
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains the STEM Designated Degree Program list. Which is the complete list of fields of study that are viewed as STEM degrees for purposes of qualifying for a STEM optional practical training (OPT) extension. Also, the DHS has now added 22 new fields of study to the list. In hopes of attracting more foreign national students seeking STEM degrees. Further, the fields of the study added to the listed range from cloud computing and data analytics to geobiology and climate science.
Updated Eligibility for O-1 Visas
The O-1 nonimmigrant visa category is reserved for people of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, business, education, athletics, or persons. With a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television (MPTV) industry. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated guidance on eligibility for O-1 nonimmigrant status, particularly for people in the STEM fields. The updated policy adds a chart in an appendix providing examples of evidence. That may satisfy the O1A evidentiary criteria and discusses considerations. That is relevant to evaluating such evidence, with a focus on the STEM fields. Also, the new policy gives examples of qualifying comparable evidence. Those petitioners could provide in support of a petition for a beneficiary in a STEM field.
National Interest Waiver for STEM Workers & Students and Entrepreneurs
The USCIS also has updated guidance related to the utilization of the national interest waiver (NIW) program. By entrepreneurs and by people with advanced degrees in STEM fields. The updated guidance gives specific evidentiary considerations for USCIS officers evaluating NIW cases filed by such people. The guidance also has been updated to detail how the USCIS should evaluate letters from interested government agencies or quasi-governmental entities (e.g., federally funded research and development centers) that are submitted in support of NIW cases.
Also, the series of administrative actions should help attract global STEM talent. To help the U.S. economic development and upgrade the nation’s scientific and technological competitive advantage. Moreover, these actions will help global STEM talent continue to make meaningful contributions to this country. Which has long profited from the diverse groups of immigrants who come to the United States.