- President Biden’s new executive order (EO) on artificial intelligence (AI) includes provisions to streamline the immigration process for individuals possessing AI expertise.
- The EO advocates for new rules that facilitate temporary educational or exchange program participants to contribute to AI and other technology-related fields.
- The EO also encourages an international campaign to promote the United States as an attractive destination for individuals from other countries with science or technology expertise to study, research, or work on AI and other critical technologies
Consular Visa Processing
The EO directs the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take certain actions within 90 days. In particular, the EO directs these agencies to streamline processing times for visa petitions and applications, including continued and timely availability of visa appointments for foreign nationals who seek to work on, study, or conduct research in AI or other critical emerging technologies in the United States.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
The EO also directs the State Department to consider, within 120 days, changes to the J-1 exchange visitor program that would make it easier for individuals working in AI or other emerging technologies to bring their talents to the United States. These directives include updating the J-1 Exchange Visitor Skills List and establishing new criteria to designated countries and skills (including AI skills “critical to the United States”) “as it relates to the 2-year foreign residence requirement.” The executive order also encourages the State Department to consider a stateside visa renewal program for exchange visitors working in AI and emerging technologies.
The EO urges the State Department: (1) to consider, within 180 days, new regulations that would expand the categories of nonimmigrants eligible for stateside visa renewal to include academic J-1 research scholars and F-1 students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) fields, and (2) establish a program to identify and attract top talent in these AI-adjacent fields through U.S. immigration options and possible expedited case processing.
Policy Changes to Attract Talent
The EO instructs multiple agencies to initiate, within 180 days, a global campaign promoting the United States as a prime destination for foreign nationals specializing in science or technology, to study or work on AI and other “critical and emerging technologies.” The relevant elements of this campaign include:
- Updating standards for O-1, EB-1, EB-2, and International Entrepreneur pathways to promote AI skills;
- Requiring the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to solicit information from the private sector on where immigrants with advanced skills in science and technology are most needed to update the Schedule A list of occupations to address worker shortages in AI and other STEM fields;
- Continuing DHS’s H-1B modernization efforts to consider industry needs for skilled talent in AI and other technology-related fields; and
- Considering new regulations to enhance the process for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies and their families to adjust status.
These guidelines go beyond simplifications of immigration processes; they aim to attract the world’s best experts to promote greater innovation and technological advancement across the United States.
The potential implications for the U.S. tech industry are significant. By smoothing the path for skilled immigrants, the administration aims to strengthen the U.S.’s position at the forefront of AI advancements and innovation. The executive order is a clear acknowledgment from the Biden administration that the growth and leadership of the United States in AI and related technologies rely on the nation’s ability to attract and retain top global talent.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.
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