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Biden Administration Welcomes STEM Talent

The Biden Administration released a statement on January 21, 2022, that proposed new polices aimed towards welcoming foreign talent – particularly in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The Administration’s policies can be divided into four general areas:

1. Improved National Interest Waivers for Employment-Based Immigrants

The Administration’s new guidance could expand the use of National Interest Waivers for immigrant entrepreneurs and a broader range of highly skilled individuals with expertise in STEM fields. Immigrants applying under the National Interest Waiver program do not need an employer to sponsor them.

2. Expanding Eligibility for O-1A visa

The O-1A visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics. Historically, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has taken a narrow view of who is eligible for this type of visa. However, the Biden Administration’s new policy is expected to significantly expand the eligibility for O-1A visas in STEM fields.

3. Expanding Eligibility for STEM OPT

The Biden Administration is also expanding eligibility for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT). Under its new policy, international students may gain practical experience and an additional 24 months in a STEM field, which would provide international students the ability to work in their field and the potential to obtain H-1B status and employment-based green cards later on.

4. Expanded Programs for J-1 Exchange Visitors

The Biden Administration proposed two expansions of the J-1 visa that may provide new routes to the U.S. for individuals in the STEM fields. For example, the Administration announced the “Early Career STEM Research Initiative” to facilitate non-immigrant Bridge USA exchange visitors coming to the United States to engage in STEM research through research, training, or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. The Administration also announced new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students on the J-1 visa for periods of up to three years.

If you are part of the STEM field and seeking a path to study, live, or work in the United States, please call us or email us to request a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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