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New Biden-Harris Administration Immigration Policies to Attract New Talent in STEM Fields

January 21, 2022
On January 21, 2022, the Biden-Harris White House messaged its continuing commitment to attracting new talent in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and that "the Departments of State and Homeland Security are announcing new actions to advance predictability and clarity for pathways for international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts to contribute to innovation and job creation efforts across America."
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DHS Adds 22 Fields to STEM Designated Degree Program List

January 20, 2022
DHS announced that effective January 21, 2022, it will add "22 qualifying fields of study and a corresponding Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for each" to the DHS STEM OPT Designated Degree Program List that governs eligibility for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.
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Comments on Revisions to Form I-129H1 Due

January 19, 2022
USCIS is giving the public until February 18, 2022 to comment on revised I-129H1 form and instructions. USCIS still plans to separate Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, into several individual forms, including stand-alone I-129 petitions for H-1B, TN, and O classifications. Comments on the original changes were due October 18, 2021. The new comment period is for comments on revisions to the I-129H form and instructions in response to comments from the prior notice, and the removal of elements that would have been required by the H-1B selection rule that was withdrawn on December 22, 2021.
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Lifting of the Proclamation 10315 Southern Africa Entry Ban

December 29, 2021
On December 28, 2021, President Biden signed "A Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 10315," which revokes the southern Africa COVID-19 entry ban effective 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on December 31, 2021.
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DOS Proposes Sharp Increases to Visa and 212(e) Waiver Fees

December 29, 2021
In a December 29, 2021 proposed rule, the Department of State (DOS) proposes sharp increases to key visa and processing fees. For example, the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fee for F-1, J-1, and other non-petition-based visas would see a 53% hike, and the MRV fee for petition-based categories such as H-1B and O visas would jump 63%. Also included in the fee hike proposal is a whopping increase of 325% for applications for a waiver of the INA 212(e) two-year home residence requirement that many J-1 exchange visitor participants are subject to. Public comments on the proposal are due by February 28, 2022.
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DOS Expands Visa Interview Waivers for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q as Well as F, M, and Academic J Nonimmigrants

December 24, 2021
A December 23, 2021 DOS announcement expands visa interview waiver authority until the end of 2022 and includes H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q nonimmigrants in addition to F, M, and Academic J nonimmigrants.
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DOS Restores Helpful F Student Residence Abroad Guidance to FAM

December 23, 2021
On December 20, 2021, DOS updated the FAM to restore helpful distinctions to the residence abroad requirement for F students. Restoration of this guidance was one of NAFSA's specific recommendations to DOS.
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DHS Withdraws January 8, 2021 H-1B Lottery Rule

December 22, 2021
Effective December 22, 2021, DHS withdrew the January 8, 2021 rule that would have replaced the current random selection process for H-1B cap-subject registrations with a system that gave preference to higher wage earners.
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REMOTE Act Signed Into Law

December 21, 2021
On December 21, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Responsible Education Mitigating Options and Technical Extensions (REMOTE) Act, which amended veterans benefits provisions to once again allow schools to engage in incentive-based arrangements to recruit foreign students not eligible for Federal financial student aid without impacting the schools' eligibility to participate in veterans benefits programs.
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Fall 2021 Regulatory Agenda is Published

December 17, 2021
The Fall 2021 Regulatory Agenda has been published on, showing the regulatory actions that the agencies expect to work on within the next 12 months. Read NAFSA's compilation of the immigration-related regulatory actions most relevant to institutions that invite international students and scholars to the United States.
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