Washington, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed policy changes that will help America attract and retain individuals with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) expertise.
AILA President Allen Orr noted, “These changes are in line with several recommendations AILA has urged the Biden administration to consider over the past year as part of our Vision for a Welcoming America. The previous administration gutted our country’s ability to attract and retain talent, including STEM talent, and we all knew this rebuilding phase in the middle of a pandemic was going to be a challenge. But these changes are a step forward. I think it’s particularly important that the eligibility for STEM Optional Practical Training is being expanded so that we can promise those still studying, as they begin their STEM careers, that they will have a bridge from their education into the workforce. Additional changes to the J-1 Exchange programs are also welcome. These policies should make a difference, but more can and should be done.”
AILA Director of Government Relations Sharvari Dalal-Dheini added, “As anyone reading the news can see, our economy is hungry for workers. Investing in human capital and in the innovators of tomorrow is key to our country’s future success. We are glad to see new guidance for National Interest Waivers which should help STEM workers and entrepreneurs. Changes to the use of O visas, for those with ‘extraordinary abilities’ in STEM, are vital as so many applications are being denied despite strong evidence of someone’s skills and abilities. As we begin to see the effect of these new policies taking effect today, we urge USCIS and the Department of State to meet these policy changes with necessary operational changes that ensure efficient and timely processing, so that our immigration system works for America, and for the immigrants who contribute to our shared prosperity.”