WASHINGTON D.C.: To ensure that the U.S. economy remains competitive, the Biden administration will allow international students specializing in science, technology, engineering and math to complete up to 36 months of academic training at U.S. universities.
The Department of Homeland Security will also add 22 new fields of study - including cloud computing, data visualization and data science - to a post-graduate program that allows international graduates from U.S. universities to spend up to three additional years working with U.S. employers.
The program generated some 58,000 applications in fiscal 2020.
The educational programs are designed to ensure that the U.S. attracts scientists and researchers from across the world whose breakthroughs will enable the U.S. economy to grow.
Government data indicates that international students are increasingly the lifeblood of academic research.
Meanwhile, business groups and immigration advocates have welcomed the announcement, while critics said it would damage job prospects for American citizens.
"These targeted actions will help American companies meet their critical workforce needs moving forward, and is one of a series of key actions needed to address the workforce shortage crisis," said Jon Baselice of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as quoted by the Associated Press.
"Much more needs to be done to update and modernize our nation's immigration system, and those types of changes require Congressional action."
However, U.S. Tech Workers, an advocacy group critical of such post-graduation visa programs, said the changes will encourage companies to discriminate against American job applicants.
"This is exactly the kind of policy that destroys the career prospects of young American graduates," the group posted on Twitter.