On October 30, President Biden introduced a groundbreaking executive order focusing on the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and its substantial impact on technology, labor, and immigration dynamics in the United States. This comprehensive directive establishes fresh benchmarks concerning AI safety and security, with a primary objective of safeguarding the privacy of U.S. residents. Simultaneously, it champions innovation and the advancement of AI and emerging technologies. Notably, the executive order tasks U.S. immigration agencies with extending opportunities for highly skilled immigrants and nonimmigrants within the AI field.
The executive order mandates the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to execute specific actions within a 90-day timeframe. In particular, it instructs these agencies to streamline the processing times for visa petitions and applications. This includes ensuring ongoing and prompt access to visa appointments for foreign nationals aiming to engage in work, studies, or research within AI or other critical emerging technologies on U.S. soil.
Additionally, the EO instructs the State Department to contemplate, within 120 days, modifications to the J-1 exchange visitor program. The goal is to facilitate the entry of individuals specializing in AI or other emerging technologies into the United States. These modifications involve revising the J-1 Exchange Visitor Skills List and establishing fresh criteria for designating countries and skills, particularly AI skills deemed “critical to the United States” concerning the 2-year foreign residence requirement. Furthermore, the executive order encourages the State Department to consider the implementation of a visa renewal program within the United States for exchange visitors involved in AI and emerging technologies.
The EO further urges the State Department to embark on two key initiatives. First, within 180 days, it calls for the consideration of new regulations aimed at broadening the categories of eligible nonimmigrant stateside visa renewals. This includes academic J-1 research scholars and F-1 students specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) fields. Second, it suggests the establishment of a program to identify and attract top talent in AI-adjacent fields through U.S. immigration pathways, potentially including expedited case processing.
The executive order directs multiple agencies to launch a global campaign within 180 days, promoting the United States as a prime destination for foreign nationals specializing in science or technology, with a focus on AI and other “critical and emerging technologies.” This campaign encompasses several key components:
Updating criteria for O-1, EB-1, EB-2, and International Entrepreneur pathways to endorse AI expertise. Requiring the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to engage with the private sector to identify areas experiencing shortages of skilled immigrants in science and technology, with a specific focus on AI and other STEM fields. Continuing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) modernization efforts within the H-1B program, taking into consideration the industry’s demand for skilled talent in AI and related technology fields. Contemplating new regulations to streamline the adjustment of status process for AI and other critical and emerging technology experts and their families.
These guidelines extend beyond simplifying immigration procedures; they are designed to attract the world’s most accomplished experts, fostering greater innovation and technological progress across the United States.
The potential ramifications for the U.S. tech industry are substantial. By removing barriers for skilled immigrants, the administration seeks to fortify the U.S.’s position as a leader in AI advancements and innovation. The executive order signifies the Biden administration’s recognition that the growth and leadership of the United States in AI and related technologies hinge on its ability to draw in and retain top global talent.