A new initiative to streamline the international student visa process for foreign students studying in the United States has been announced.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton launched the Study in the States programme to help attract the brightest and best students.

They said it is a key part of a government wide effort to encourage more overseas students to study in the country and stay on afterwards to work or start a business.
‘Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities is an important part of our nation’s economic, scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness,’ said Secretary Napolitano.

‘Foreign students and exchange visitors bring invaluable contributions to our nation, and the Study in the States initiative is an important step in empowering the next generation of international entrepreneurs, right here in America,’ she added.
More than 1.1 million active non immigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents study in US universities or take part in exchange programmes and training opportunities.

The new initiative will examine regulatory changes, expand public engagement between the government and academia, and provide a central on-line information hub for DHS and its agency partners to provide current and prospective students with updated and relevant visa requirements in a streamlined, user friendly format.
‘Study in the States encourages international students who seek the wealth of educational opportunities available in the US to remain here following their studies and apply their new skills here in our country,’ said ICE Director Morton.

‘We aim to strike a balance, providing an open and welcoming experience for international students and visitors seeking information, while maintaining the integrity and security of our visa process. This site is an important step toward reaching that goal,’ he added.
It is hoped that the initiative can build upon other new policies that embrace talented students from other countries, who enrich the nation by working in science and technology jobs and fuelling innovation in their chosen fields in the United States.

Earlier this year, DHS announced an extension to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees for international student studies, allowing graduates of a STEM degree to remain in the U.S. through Optional Practical Training (OPT) for up to 29 months after graduation.

The Study in the States website will employ a variety of social media tools, featuring dynamic and interactive content, including interactive and accessible information, allowing prospective and current students to visually navigate steps of the student visa process; links to social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, disseminating relevant visa requirements and information to international students, exchange visitors, and the academic community; and a blog with posted videos, public service announcements, relevant news, requirements, helpful tips and success stories.