On October 30, 2023, President Biden issued an executive order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. One of the key goals of the order is to attract and retain top talent in AI and other critical and emerging technologies in the United States.
Section 5.1 of this AI executive order relates to US immigration and includes the following steps to make it easier for foreign nationals with expertise in AI and other critical and emerging enhancing the ability of the US to attract and retain foreign nationals in the field of AI:
- Streamlining processing times of visa petitions and applications for noncitizens who seek to travel to the United States to work on, study, or conduct research in AI or other critical and emerging technologies, including O-1A extraordinary ability visa petitions and H-1B specialty worker petitions;
- Facilitating continued availability of visa appointments in sufficient volume for applicants with expertise in AI or other critical and emerging technologies;
- Considering initiating a rulemaking to establish new criteria to designate countries and skills on the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Skills List as it relates to the two (2)-year foreign residence requirement (INA Section 212(e)) for certain J-1 exchange visitor nonimmigrants, including those skills that are critical to the United States, including publishing updates to the 2009 Revised Exchange Visitor Skills List;
- Considering implementing a domestic visa renewal program under 22 C.F.R. 41.111(b) to facilitate the ability of qualified applicants, including highly skilled talent in AI and critical and emerging technologies, to continue their work in the United States without unnecessary interruption;
- Reviewing and initiating any policy changes necessary and appropriate to clarify and modernize immigration pathways for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies, including for the issuance of O-1A and EB-1 extraordinary ability visa petitions; green cards in the EB-2 advanced-degree and exceptional ability categories; and parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule for startup founders in AI and other critical emerging technologies;
- Publishing a request for information (RFI) to solicit public input on AI and other STEM-related occupations, as well as additional occupations across the economy, for which there is an insufficient number of ready, willing, able, and qualified United States workers;
- Updating the Schedule A lost of occupations for which the U.S. Department of Labor has determined there are not sufficient US workers, and which allows foreign workers with occupations on Schedule A to bypass the PERM labor certification process to obtain legal permanent residency (the green card);
- Developing and publishing informational resources to better attract and retain experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies. This includes a clear and comprehensive guide for experts in AI and other critical emerging technologies to understand their options for working in the United States, and a public report with relevant data on applications, petitions, approvals, and other key indicators of how experts in AI and other critical emerging technologies have utilized the immigration system through the end of Fiscal Year 2023; and
- Using discretionary authorities to support and attract foreign nationals with special skills in AI and other critical and emerging technologies seeking to work, study, or conduct research in the United States.
There are various ways that US immigration officials can use their discretionary authority to support and attract AI foreign talent. They can broaden the public benefit parole program granting parole to AI researchers who may have been waiting many years for a US visa or are trying to escape dictatorial governments. Public benefit parole is the basis for the International Entrepreneur Rule. Also, the U.S. Department of State could recapture certain employment-based immigrant visa cap numbers from prior years when they failed to do so. In addition, they can extend the visa interview waivers indefinitely, since there are still substantial backlogs in foreign nationals obtaining visas from US consulates around the world.
The executive order’s focus on attracting and retaining top talent in AI and other critical emerging technologies is a positive development. The United States needs to stay ahead of the curve in these areas, and one way to do that is to make it easier for foreign nationals with the necessary skills to come and work in the country. The executive order’s provisions are a step in the right direction.
For the full executive order, please visit: