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DHS Proposals to Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Immigrants

As a part of comprehensive immigration reform, the President supports legislative measures that would attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness here in the U.S., including creating a “Startup Visa,” strengthening the H-1B program, and “stapling” green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Together these actions would help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world. In the meantime, the Obama Administration is working to make improvements in the areas where we can make a difference.

As part of these ongoing efforts and in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the White House Startup America Initiative, the Department of Homeland Security today announced a series of administrative reforms which will be completed in the future. These reforms reflect the Administration’s continuing commitment to attracting and retaining highly-skilled immigrants. These efforts are critical to continuing our economic recovery and encouraging job creation. In the State of the Union, President Obama noted that “Innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses.” He also stated in his remarks in El Paso last May, “In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the United States were founded by immigrants, leading to more than 200,000 jobs in America.” Echoing this, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness stated in its recent report, “Highly skilled immigrants create jobs, they don’t take jobs.”

The initiatives below will serve to make the United States more attractive to highly-skilled foreign students and workers, thereby improving the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the world market and stimulating U.S. job creation:

    • Expand eligibility for 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
    • Allow for additional part-time study for spouses of F-1 students and expand the number of Designated School Officials (DSOs) at schools certified by DHS to enroll international students.
    • Provide work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders.
    • Allow outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement.
    • Harmonize rules to allow E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending.
    • Launch Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative.

 

June 2017
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