US Unveils Changes to Attract Foreign Science, Tech Students

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
January 22, 2022Updated: January 22, 2022

The Biden administration on Friday announced policy changes to attract international students specializing in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The State Department will let eligible visiting students in those fields, known as STEM, complete up to 36 months of academic training, according to a notice in the Federal Register. There will also be an initiative to connect these students with U.S. businesses.

Homeland Security will add 22 new fields of study—including cloud computing, data visualization, and data science—to a program that allows international graduates from U.S. universities to spend up to three additional years training with domestic employers. The program generated about 58,000 applications in fiscal 2020.

The government’s National Science Board reported this week that international students on temporary visas account for more than half of U.S. doctoral degrees in economics, computer sciences, engineering, and mathematics and statistics. But in the sciences and engineering, China is fast closing the gap in doctoral degrees by generating nearly as many graduates as the United States did in 2018.

Business groups and immigration advocates welcomed Friday’s announcement, while critics said it would damage job prospects for native American citizens.

“These targeted actions will help American companies meet their critical workforce needs moving forward and is one of a series of key actions needed to address the workforce shortage crisis,” said Jon Baselice, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of immigration policy.

U.S. Tech Workers, an advocacy group critical of the post-graduation visas, said the changes will encourage companies to discriminate against native-border job applicants.

“This is exactly the kind of policy that destroys the career prospects of young American graduates,” the group posted on Twitter.

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