The Biden Administration announced policy changes today to attract international science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students as part of a broader effort to make the U.S. economy more competitive.


“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,” an announcement from the White House noted.


Under this new policy, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) will establish the “Early Career STEM Research Initiative” to facilitate international students to engage in STEM research through research, training, or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. ECA is also establishing new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for eligible students in STEM fields on the J-1 visa for periods of up to 36 months.


Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security announced 22 new fields of study included in the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. The OPT program students earning Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in specific STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to complete the training after earning their degree.


“The added fields of study are primarily new multidisciplinary or emerging fields and are critical in attracting talent to support U.S. economic growth and technological competitiveness,” the White House noted.


The new programs are designed to ensure that the U.S. is a magnet for talent worldwide, attracting scientists and researchers whose breakthroughs will enable the economy to grow. The Administration acknowledged the importance of STEM, noting that these fields are “critical to the prosperity, security, and health of our Nation.” The Administration added that this new policy ensures continued support for educational exchange and builds on the overall effort to remove barriers to legal immigration. 

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.