How U.S. Institutions and Employers May Assist in Attracting STEM Talent

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As mentioned in the preceding blog post, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced new initiatives to attract global STEM talent and maintain the United States’ economic and technological advantage. This blog will discuss how U.S. institutions and employers may assist in this effort, so please continue reading, then contact an immigration lawyer skilled in employment immigration law today.

What U.S. institutions and employers may participate in attracting STEM talent and what will their role be?

Applicable institutions and employers include colleges, universities, schools, non-profit organizations, private companies, hospitals, research institutions and other organizations hiring STEM workers or scholars. The Department of State (DOS) has invited prospective host companies and already-designated sponsors to consider the J-1 Early Career STEM Research Initiative. Whether they know it or not, many exchange programs, institutions of higher education, individuals and host companies may already possess the connections necessary to explore this initiative.

How might prospective institutions and employers participate in this process?

For an employer or institution to participate as a host, they may utilize the services of a program sponsor designated by the DOS or become a designated sponsor. In the latter case, the entity will have to file an application for designation and receive DOS approval to act as a designated sponsor.

In order to host a J-1 participant, institutions/employers may use the services of an already designated program sponsor authorized to act as an “umbrella” organization or they may find opportunities or connections through their own networks.

Aside from finding candidates through other institutions, a host company may submit a STEM Statement of Interest. After this submission, BridgeUSA will connect the host with a program sponsor. Should the program sponsor determine that the host and the candidate meet the program requirements, the program sponsor will provide a Statement of Eligibility (DS-2019), allowing the candidate to apply at the U.S. embassy in their country for an exchange visitor (J-1) visa.

For the record, a Statement of Interest is not required, but the DOS hopes companies will make use of it to match people with jobs.

What constraints are placed on U.S. institutions and employers seeking STEM talent?

The goal of this program is to promote cultural exchange, not to fill vacancies or be used in lieu of an H-1B. Nonetheless, research exchange visitors are permitted to participate in work that supports the mission of the company/institution and its commercial objectives. Even if it is product or profit-oriented, the work must be framed around conducting research and gaining knowledge.

The J-1 Early Career STEM Research Initiative is a subcategory of the J-1 research scholar category. As such, host companies are discouraged from sponsoring H-1B temporary work petitions or green card applications for J-1 Early Career STEM research scholars.

In our next blog post, we will discuss how participants may enter this program. In the meantime, if you are interested in or have any questions about this program, please reach out to our firm.

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