Immigration Central How to STEM the flow into the US

Non-immigrant STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) pathways offer opportunities to work in the United States for a specified duration. Approximately 1,40,000 immigrant visas are available each fiscal year for non-citizens (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate based on their job skills. These non-immigrant pathways also lets the visa holder bring the spouse and children under the age of 21 to the US.

Pathways for STEM employment in the US

There are temporary and permanent pathways for non-citizens to work in the US in STEM fields.


After the completion of Optional Practical Training (OPT) and 24-month STEM OPT extension for F-1 Students

Eligibility: Student in F-1 status who has earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D degree in a STEM field from a US college or university

Job offer: Not required for the initial 12-month OPT but is required for 24-month STEM OPT extension

Duration of validity: Up to 12 months after the completion of OPT and 24-month STEM OPT extension (36 months in total)

H-1B specialty occupation

Eligibility: Must hold a US bachelor’s or higher degree (or a foreign equivalent degree) required for the occupation, or an equivalent combination of education and experience

Job offer: The offer must require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge; and the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the US.

Duration of validity: Three-year initial approval and one three-year extension. Additional extensions may be available for individuals who are in the process of obtaining lawful permanent-resident status.

Owing to an annual statutory cap, there is typically a random selection process to determine which petitions are eligible to be filed for an initial H-1B period (unless exempt from the cap). H-1B extension petitions are not subject to the cap.

By Preeti Verma Lal for Money Control
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