USCIS Data Show Increase in O-1A and NIW EB-2 Approvals for STEM Activities

USCIS Data Show Increase in O-1A and NIW EB-2 Approvals for STEM Activities

USCIS

According to a newly released report, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data show a sizable overall increase in O-1A petition approvals for individuals engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities and in National Interest Waiver (NIW) EB-2 petition approvals for individuals engaged in STEM activities, compared to fiscal year 2021, before USCIS issued new policy guidance in January 2022. USCIS noted:

  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total receipts of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, with and without waivers (combined) increased by 20 percent, from 70,600 to 84,470. Receipts continued to increase by another 10 percent from FY 2022 to FY 2023. Approvals increased by 60 percent from 57,810 in FY 2021 to 92,280 in FY 2022, but decreased about 12 percent from 92,280 in FY 2022 to 81,380 in FY 2023. The approval rate remained at 90 percent or above throughout FY 2018-FY 2023. Total EB-2 receipts in STEM job categories decreased by almost 13 percent, from 61,790 in FY 2022 to 53,960 in FY 2023. Receipts in non-STEM job categories increased by 28 percent during that time.
  • An increasing number of EB-2 petitioners are requesting NIWs, USCIS said. The number of petitions with NIW requests almost doubled, from 21,990 in FY 2022 to 39,810 in FY 2023; the number of petitions without NIW requests dropped from 62,490 to 53,200.
  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total receipts of Form I-129 for O-1A petitioners increased 29 percent, from 7,710 to 9,970. They continued to increase slightly from 9,970 in FY 2022 to 10,010 in FY 2023 (see Figure 4). Approvals followed a similar trend by increasing by 25 percent from FY 2021 to FY 2022, from 7,320 to 9,120. They continued to increase slightly from 9,120 in FY 2022 to 9,490 in FY 2023. The approval rate remained stable at 90 percent or above throughout FY 2018-FY 2023.
  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total approvals of STEM-related O-1A Form I-129 petitions increased 29 percent, from 3,550 to 4,570. From FY 2022 to FY 2023, approvals remained almost the same, from 4,570 to 4,560. Approvals of non-STEM-related petitions followed a similar trend increasing 21 percent, from 3,410 in FY 2021 to 4,140 in FY 2022. Approvals increased slightly from 4,140 in FY 2022 to 4,380 in FY 2023.

The January 2022 policy guidance clarified how certain professionals in STEM fields can demonstrate eligibility for (a) the NIW in employment-based immigrant status (EB-2), along with the significance of letters from governmental and quasi-governmental entities, and (b) nonimmigrant status for individuals of extraordinary ability (O-1A).

Details:

USCIS Policy Alert, PA-2022-03 (Jan. 21, 2022).

 

This is posting is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. If you require further assistance or advice relating to the above, please contact our Principal Lawyer, Janice Flynn at janice@flynnhodkinson.com.

Tags: