The government announced new policies to attract skilled immigrants from around the world. The U.S. wants to attract global talent from the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The administration views these fields as essential for American innovation and job creation.

The new policies aim to provide predictability for international STEM scholars, students, and researchers.  Below are some of the new policy changes.

  • 22 new fields of study have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The program permits F-1 students earning Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in certain STEM fields to remain in the U.S. to work for up to 36 months after earning their degrees.
  • Clarification of evidence required for “extraordinary ability” (O-1A) nonimmigrant status. This update allows for greater predictability in establishing eligibility for this type of visa. It also helps applicants gather the right kind of evidence needed for their applications.
  • Updated information on how Immigration Services adjudicates national interest waivers for certain immigrants with exceptional abilities in their field of work. This update will promote efficient and effective benefit processing as USCIS reviews requests for national interest waivers.
  • Introduction of the “Early Career STEM Research Initiative.” This initiative will help exchange visitors come to the United States to engage in STEM research. Participants will engage in research, training or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. Additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on the J-1 visa will also be available for periods of up to 36 months.