Students, aspiring businessmen and professionals can look forward to more lenient visa requirements from the US State Department as a
result of immigration reform introduced by President Obama. Behind the reform: the desire to stem the brain drain of talented, productive individuals who are getting their educations in the US and returning to their home countries, taking their much-needed skills with them.
When the reforms go into effect it is estimated that as many as 400,000 highly-skilled individuals will be eligible for visas to stay in the US.
“Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us, or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America? That’s what this debate is all about,” Obama said.
Under the current policy students in highly technical fields like science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in US institutions of higher learning will be able to apply for prolonged stays. Today, under the optional practical training program (OPT) these type of students can only stay legally for 29 months. The OPT program will also be expanded to include more kinds of course work.