The White House announced a series of measures Friday aimed at attracting international talent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

  • The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced an “Early Career STEM Research Initiative” to facilitate exchange visitor programs in the U.S. for STEM research, training or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses.
  • ECA also published new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on J-1 visas for periods of up to 36 months.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added 22 new fields of study to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The additions mean that more students will be eligible for the 24-month STEM OPT extension.
  • DHS updated its policy manual regarding what evidence may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria for immigrants of extraordinary abilities, such as PhD holders in STEM fields.
  • DHS also updated its policy manual on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates national interest waivers for certain immigrants with exceptional abilities in their field of work.

Additional Information: The White House said the initiatives build on the Biden administration’s efforts to remove barriers to legal immigration and promote educational exchange, specifically mentioning Biden’s 2021 executive order on legal immigration and a joint statement on international education from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

BAL Analysis: The STEM measures are designed to strengthen the U.S. economy and its competitiveness globally. BAL continues to review the new policies and will provide additional updates and analysis as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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