On September 30, 2023, the White House released an Executive Order (EO) aimed at ensuring that the United States remains at the vanguard of discovery in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a long list of other critical and emerging technologies. The initiative is intended to promote “responsible innovation, competition, and collaboration” designed to unlock the potential of AI to solve societal challenges. The initiative recognizes that this undertaking requires investments in education, training, development, research and capacity, and as well as investments in human capital – and this means creating better avenues for the world’s “best and brightest” to immigrate to the U.S.
As part of that initiative, the President has directed the Secretaries of State, Labor and Homeland Security to undertake initiatives to facilitate and accelerate immigration opportunities for high-skilled foreign workers in a long-list of critical and emerging technologies. Section 5 of the EO, designated ”Promoting Innovation and Competition” directs these departments to “modernize immigration pathways for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies, including O-1A and EB-1 noncitizens of extraordinary ability; EB-2 advanced-degree holders and noncitizens of exceptional ability; and startup founders in AI and other critical and emerging technologies.” To view the list of qualifying technologies, click here.
Specific directives include:
- improving processing times for visa petitions and applications, including ensuring availability of visa appointments for persons coming to the U.S. to work on, study, or conduct research in AI or other critical and emerging technologies;
- amending the Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Skills List to reduce the number of categories subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement;
- implementing a domestic visa renewal program to facilitate the ability of qualified applicants in AI and critical and emerging technologies, to renew visas in the U.S.
- establishing a program to identify and attract top talent in AI and other critical and emerging technologies at universities, research institutions, and the private sector overseas, and to educate them on immigrant visa options and potential expedited adjudication of their visa petitions and applications.
- clarifying and modernizing immigration pathways for experts in AI and other critical technologies, including O-1A/EB-1; EB-2 advanced-degree holders and startup founders in AI and other critical and emerging technologies;
- modernizing the H-1B program and enhancing its integrity and usage by experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies and enhancing processes for experts in AI and other critical and emerging technologies and their spouses and children, for becoming lawful permanent residents.
- updating the Dept. of Labor’s “Schedule A” occupation list to include 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 – thereby eliminating the Labor Certification requirement for qualifying occupations.
Note: none of these provisions has yet taken effect. The EO directs the heads of agencies to study and report, within roughly four to six months, on progress towards these objectives. The announced policy is designed to ensure that the U.S. establishes and maintains a lead in AI and other emerging technologies. Implicit in the announcement is the understanding that, in order to remain at the fore of these critical next-generation discoveries, the U.S. will need to open its doors to the world’s most capable and creative scientists, engineers and innovators in these technologies of the future. To view the full text of the Presidential Executive Order, click here.
For questions on the Presidential Executive Order and what it may mean for you or your organization, contact us.