Four years ago, I posted an article titled "STEM Students are the Future ... Bill Gates Was Right." This article was written during the Trump years when we faced an administration that was openly hostile toward foreign national students and professionals. Thankfully, much has changed under the Biden administration.

The Biden administration recognizes that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students play a vital role in driving innovation, economic growth, and maintaining United States leadership and its competitive edge in the global economy.

The National Interest Waiver allows foreign nationals to self-petition for permanent residence if they hold an advanced degree or exceptional ability and they satisfy three requirements: (1) The person's proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) The person is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and (3) On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and thus the permanent labor certification requirements.

On January 21, 2022, USCIS updated its NIW policy guidance to create special consideration for STEM professionals and entrepreneurs seeking an NIW. Since the issuance of these guidelines, we have successfully represented many STEM students and entrepreneurs in their immigrant petitions to USCIS.

One particular client stands out as a shining example of Biden's vision. I had the privilege of representing a young DACA student who had studied film production technology and received an associate in science degree in this field. This client did not hold an advanced degree. However, he had studied and proven exceptional ability in his field. Furthermore, he created a globally recognized and celebrated visual arts production company that brought employment and business to his local community. Our client's company broke barriers in the entertainment industry and helped maintain U.S. film production during the COVID pandemic.

This successful case highlights the broad application of the USCIS STEM policy regarding the National Interest Waiver. There are immeasurable ways STEM students and entrepreneurs can present a NIW petition to USCIS. The NIW is not limited to academia. USCIS policy recognizes that national benefit comes in many forms. It is our job to show the national importance of our client's work and how they are positioned to advance that work to the benefit of U.S. interests. These cases require a thoughtful assessment of an individual's background and a clear and detailed presentation of their path forward. STEM students continue to be the future. As an attorney, it is always an honor to be a part of that journey.

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