New STEM Rules Will Enhance Security, Bolster Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today the Biden administration unveiled a new plan to help attract and retain global talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

The plan permits STEM specialists to stay in the U.S. for additional training, including expanding the eligible fields of expertise in the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, makes O-1A nonimmigrant status more accessible to immigrants of extraordinary ability in STEM fields, and clarifies the use of national interest waivers for persons with advanced STEM degrees and entrepreneurs. The effort is a joint initiative of the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.   

In addition to the national security benefits of attracting and retaining STEM talent, education remains a significant economic boon to the U.S. As of 2020, international students contributed $41 billion to the economy each year (not including an additional $10 billion to the economy in spending outside of tuition) and are responsible for supporting more than 458,000 jobs. 

“Attracting global talent — and building a welcoming environment for the immigrants who bring it — is key to retaining our economic competitiveness and ensuring our national security,” said Ali Noorani, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “When we allow international students to build a life here, we allow not just communities but ideas and innovations to flourish.”  

 

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