The US Implements New Measures for STEM Students and Professionals
Today’s blog update discusses the latest actions implemented to increase opportunities for STEM students and many others.
The Biden administration declared new measures to grow opportunities in the United States for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students, professionals, and more. A White House statement expressed that the latest actions are aimed to advance predictability and transparency for routes for international STEM scholars, researchers, students, and experts to play a part in innovation and job creation measures across America. These steps will permit international STEM talent to persist in making significant contributions to America’s scholarly, innovation, and research and development communities.
As per the Department of State (DOS), in 2020, international students provided more than $39 billion to the U.S. economy and aided an estimated 410,000 jobs in cities and towns throughout the United States. The DOS stated that the U.S. entities and businesses achieve a competitive advantage in their global economy with the mindsets and skillsets of international students and scholars, especially in the STEM fields.
Let’s look at the highlights of the latest measures notified by the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and DOS.
The DHS included 22 new fields of study to the STEM optional practical training (OPT) program to improve the contributions of nonimmigrant students studying in STEM fields and help develop the U.S. economy and innovation. The STEM OPT program allows F-1 students achieving bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in specific STEM fields to stay in the United States for up to 36 months following their graduation to work in their fields of study.
DHS is also revamping its suggestions to explain how particular STEM graduates can utilize the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability. DHS reported that specific noncitizens with an advanced degree or unique ability can self-petition for employment-based immigrant visa classification without testing the labor market and obtaining certification from the Department of Labor. However, this is if USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] decides the waiver of the labor market test to be in the national interest.
The DHS stated that the USCIS is also revamping its guidance associated with O-1A nonimmigrant status for noncitizens of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, arts, business, or athletics. The update describes how USCIS defines eligibility for O-1A petitioners and, for the first time, supplies examples of proof that might fulfill the criteria, including for people working in STEM fields.
The Early Career STEM Research Initiative aims to connect BridgeUSA exchange sponsors with interested U.S.-based STEM host organizations (e.g., small and medium businesses) to improve the number of STEM-focused educational and cultural exchanges.
DOS also reveals an extension for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on the J-1visa that will enable additional academic training for up to 36 months. The extension applies to the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years.
DOS stated that these initiatives are compatible with the recent Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education, which DOS and the Department of Education issued.
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