For Immediate Release

Washington (January 21, 2022) - Today the White House announced a set of new policies intended to make the United States more welcoming for talented international students and scholars. The following is a statement by Dr. Esther D. Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

“We commend the Biden-Harris administration for taking concrete action to make the United States a more attractive destination for the world’s talent and share the assertion that all Americans benefit from their presence in our classrooms, communities, and workplaces. NAFSA has long advocated for a White House-led comprehensive international education strategy, and it is gratifying to see many of the policy improvements we’ve called for incorporated into these proposals. By strengthening interagency collaboration, addressing some procedural challenges, and offering long awaited guidance on key policies, the administration is signaling a real recognition of the value of international talent to U.S. higher education, the economy, and our global competitiveness.

“At a time when U.S. international student enrollment has been trending downward and other countries are making gains in attracting the world’s best and brightest, this announcement is welcome progress in the right direction. We look forward to the Biden-Harris administration deepening its international education commitment and resources so that international talent from non-STEM fields may contribute to American ingenuity and innovation to a greater extent as well, and to ensure that U.S. students are able to benefit from an internationalized campus and career-enhancing study abroad experiences.”

“NAFSA also urges Congress to be a productive partner in this endeavor by providing key legislative solutions such as expanding dual intent and creating a path to a green card for international students so that they may have expanded opportunities to stay in this country after graduation to open businesses, join our workforce, and contribute to civil society.”

Background on the Federal Agency Actions on International STEM Talent

Highlights of the new policies include 1) new guidance on how the national interest waiver can benefit individuals with advanced degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and entrepreneurs, which could expand the use of these waiver and improve benefit processing by USCIS; 2) clarification of how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines O-1A visa eligibility for non-immigrants of extraordinary ability, such as Ph.D. holders in the STEM fields, 3) expansion of eligibility for F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training by adding 22 fields of study to the list of eligible degree programs, and 4) expansion of programs to facilitate non-immigrant J-1 exchange visitors’ travel to the U.S. to engage in STEM research, training, and education. For a complete analysis, visit NAFSA’s web site


About NAFSA: Serving more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit Resources to guide our members on these issues can be found at