Pursuant to a Biden Administration initiative, on January 21, 2022, the Departments of State (“DOS”) and Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced new actions related to STEM work authorization, J-1 Researchers, National Interest Waivers, and O-1 Extraordinary Ability Workers.  You can read the White House Fact Sheet here:


“The Biden-Harris Administration believes that one of America’s greatest strengths is our ability to attract global talent to strengthen our economy and technological competitiveness, and benefit working people and communities all across the country.”

The Administration believes the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) are “critical to the prosperity, security, and health of our Nation” and America’s “history is filled with examples of how America’s ability to attract global talent has spurred path-breaking innovation. This innovation has led to the creation of new jobs, new industries, and new opportunities for Americans across the United States.  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.”  The Fact Sheet introduces and explains the initiatives.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (“ECA”) is announcing an “Early Career STEM Research Initiative” to facilitate non-immigrant BridgeUSA exchange visitors coming to the United States to engage in STEM research through research, training or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. ECA is also announcing new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on the J-1 visa for periods of up to 36 months.

Department of Homeland Security is announcing that 22 new fields of study will be included in the STEM Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) program through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”).  The program permits F-1 students earning Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in certain STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to complete Optional Practical Training after earning their degrees.

DHS is issuing an update to its policy manual related to “extraordinary ability” O-1A nonimmigrant status regarding what evidence may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria.  O-1A nonimmigrant status is available to persons of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, business, education, or athletics. In this update, DHS is clarifying how it determines eligibility for immigrants of extraordinary abilities, such as PHD holders, in the STEM fields and provides examples of evidence that may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria and discusses considerations that are relevant to evaluating such evidence, with a focus on the highly technical nature of STEM fields and the complexity of the evidence often submitted.

DHS is issuing an update to 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.   The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) provides that an employer can file an immigrant petition for a person of exceptional ability or a member of the professions with an advanced degree.  The INA provides that USCIS may waive a job offer requirement, allowing immigrants whose work is in the national interest to petition for themselves, without an employer.

The USCIS policy update clarifies how the national interest waiver can be used for persons with advanced degrees in STEM fields and entrepreneurs, as well as the significance of letters from governmental and quasi-governmental entities. This update will promote efficient and effective benefit processing as USCIS reviews requests for national interest waivers. This effort is consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to restore faith in the legal immigration system.

If you have education and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and want to learn more about the opportunities you may have to work in the United States, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

Copyright 2022. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline Immigration only.