US launches measures to lure STEM talent from overseas

25 Jan 2022 | News

In a further move away from the Trump era, the Biden White House has announced a range of initiatives and visa tweaks to increase predictability and clarity for highly educated immigrants

The US has unveiled a range of measures to make it easier to attract people in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, in a further effort to move away from the exclusionary rhetoric of the Trump era.

They include a new initiative to facilitate researcher exchange, and a host of tweaks to visa rules to make entry easier.

The plans “advance predictability and clarity for pathways for international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts to contribute to innovation and job creation efforts across America,” according to a statement.

“Our commitment as a nation to welcoming new talent has long provided America with a global competitive advantage, and we must continue to lead in this effort,” it says.

An “Early Career STEM Research Initiative” will make it easier for exchange visitors to enter the country. The idea is to grow the number of STEM-focused educational and cultural exchanges, according to the US State Department.

In addition, the US has added 22 new fields of study to the Optional Practical Training scheme, whereby students can work with a study visa, enabling them to get vocational education that complements their degree.

These include bioenergy, economics and computer science, data visualisation and financial analytics, according to a list released by the Department for Homeland Security.

Furthermore, guidance on how applicants with an advanced degree or “exceptional ability” can self-petition for a visa – that is, obtain one without a job offer – has been updated.

“The updated guidance clarifies how to use the program, making it easier for noncitizens with needed skills, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to embark on a pathway to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States,” the department said in a statement.

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up