Published: Jan. 21, 2022

On January 21, 2022, the administration of President Biden announced various actions which the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security are putting in place to encourage international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts to contribute to innovation and job creation efforts in the United States.  Some of these new actions are taking effect immediately, whereas other actions the government will implement soon.

Please note that the following is based on the currently available information in and related to the announcement and proposed actions.  

Actions Announced Today – STEM International Students & Scholars

The Biden Administration announced the following:

Early Career STEM Research Initiative: The U.S. Department of State announced this initiative to facilitate BridgeUSA Exchange Visitors coming to the United States on J-1 visas to engage in STEM research through research, training, or as an educational exchange visitor.

Additional 36 Month Academic Training for STEM Students on Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visas: The U.S. Department of States announced that they will be issuing 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.

New STEM OPT Eligible CIP Codes: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that 22 new fields of study are now included in the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.  ISSS will release next week a separate news alert and FAQ about the expansion of majors eligible for STEM OPT.

Extraordinary Ability (O-1) Visa Standards: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is updating the policies related the to “extraordinary ability” (O-1A) nonimmigrant status particular what evidence may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria and clarifying how it determines eligibility for immigrants of extraordinary abilities, such as PHD holders in the science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields.

National Interest Waiver Permanent Residency Pathway: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be issuing a policy update to clarify 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.

Future Updates

Please keep in mind that the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security will be issuing additional information about these actions in the days to come.  Check the ISSS website and The ISSS News regularly as ISSS will update them as details become available.

Reaching Out

We understand that these may be stressful times for international students and scholars given the many uncertainties caused by the ongoing pandemic and the recent Marshall fire. CU Boulder can assist you to navigate any challenges. Campus resources include the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA), 303-492-8855, which offers 24/7 phone support for students, faculty and staff; Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), 303-492-2277, which offers 24/7 phone support for students; and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), 303-492-3020, which offers support for faculty and staff.

International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) is here to support the international campus community. Please feel free to make an appointment for an ISSS Remote Advising session, drop by for in person advising at the ISSS office, or reach out to us by email.