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  • Matthew Kolodziej

Can you benefit from Biden's STEM policy changes announced last Friday?

The Biden Administration has announced policy changes to expand visa options and availability for foreign nationals working and studying in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields to expand visa availability for STEM professionals to attract technical workers and talent to the USA:

F-1 Student Work Permit Expansion:

  • 22 new fields will be included in the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) work permit program. STEM OPT allows STEM students to extend their work permits for an additional 2 years. The new fields are Bioenergy; Forestry, General; Forest Resources Production and Management; Human Centered Technology Design; Cloud Computing; Anthrozoology; Climate Science; Earth Systems Science; Economics and Computer Science; Environmental Geosciences; Geobiology; Geography and Environmental Studies; Mathematical Economics; Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science; Data Science, General; Data Analytics, General; Business Analytics; Data Visualization; Financial Analytics; Data Analytics, Other; Industrial and Organizational Psychology; Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods.

O-1A Extraordinary Ability Work Visas:

  • USCIS has issued a Policy Guidance focusing on the STEM context including detailed discussion of acceptable comparable evidence for O-1A applications and the final “Totality of the circumstances” analysis in order to emphasize and expand the use of the O-1A as a viable visa for STEM professionals.

National Interest Waiver Green Cards:

  • The National Interest Waiver immigration category provides green cards to foreign nationals who benefit the United States. The new policy expands the availability of National Interest Waivers for foreign nationals with STEM backgrounds enabling them to pursue opportunities in the USA without a job offer or labor certification. In particular, the USCIS Policy Manual now specifically identifies U.S. competitiveness in STEM Fields as a factor that is considered “beneficial to the United States” in the National interest Waiver analysis.

J-1 Exchange Visas:

  • New guidance regarding J-1 undergraduate and Pre-Doctoral students in STEM Fields, and those who have recently completed studies in such fields, extends the maximum eligibility for optional practical training (OPT) for J-1 STEM students to 36 months, up from the previous maximum of 18 months.

  • DOS has also announced the “Early Career STEM Research Initiative”, a STEM specific initiative designed to facilitate and streamline connecting STEM Professionals with US programs to engage in STEM research, training or educational exchange.

If you are interested in learning more about how to take advantage of this policy and prepare your work visa petitions, including H-1B, TN and O-1 visas, please feel free to click the link below to register for an upcoming webinar! Limited space is available!


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