Coalition of 500+ College and University Leaders Welcome Move to Strengthen STEM Opportunities for International Students and Scholars


January 21, 2022
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, DC—Today, the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and its 500+ member Presidents and Chancellors applaud the Biden administration’s decision to remove barriers to legal immigration by strengthening opportunities for international STEM students and scholars to “contribute to innovation and job creation efforts across America.” Among a suite of policy changes, the announcement includes: the creation of the Early Career STEM Research Initiative to facilitate the research, training and education of early career STEM exchange visitors; twenty-two new fields of study for the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program; and clarification on the use of the national interest waiver for persons with advanced degrees in STEM fields and entrepreneurs.

These changes help safeguard the future of international education in the United States, the U.S. economy, and our country’s contributions to critical research by making clear that international students and scholars are welcome and that their talent and contributions are valued. While these policies represent encouraging progress, the Presidents’ Alliance will continue to work with Congress and the administration to implement our recommendations to bolster the United States’ position as the leading destination for international students and scholars and ensure that we welcome a diversity of students from throughout the world.  Further Congressional action is needed to modernize immigration law to create a more direct pathway for international students to be able to stay and contribute to our communities.

Jill Welch, Senior Policy Advisor to the Presidents’ Alliance, stated: “Concrete actions like this from the Biden administration help to strengthen the United States’ reputation as a premier destination for international education and talent. By focusing on improving policies that align with our values as a nation that welcomes immigrants, international students, scholars, and refugees, we continue to support the administration’s commitment to setting us on the right path toward strengthening our economy, protecting our security, and creating greater prosperity for all.”


The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just, forward-looking immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus levels that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.