On September 16, 2011, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced an initiative to streamline the international student visa process for foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. The "Study in the States" initiative is "a key component of a government-wide effort to encourage the best and brightest foreign students to study and remain in the U.S.," a DHS media release said.

DHS noted that more than 1.1 million active nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their dependents study in U.S. universities, exchange programs, and training opportunities. Study in the States will examine regulatory changes, expand public engagement between the government and academia, and provide a central online information hub for DHS and its agency partners to provide current and prospective students with updated and relevant visa requirements in a user-friendly format.

DHS said that the Study in the States website is intended to be an innovative, interagency portal that will include:

  • Interactive and accessible information, allowing prospective and current students to visually navigate steps of the student visa process on their own "Road Map to Success."
  • 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.
  • A blog with posted videos, public service announcements, relevant news, requirements, helpful tips, and success stories.

DHS said that Study in the States builds on other new policies intended to encourage talented students from other countries to study and work in the U.S. For example, 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.

For example, earlier this year DHS announced that international students graduating with science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degrees are allowed to remain in the U.S. through Optional Practical Training (OPT) for up to 29 months after graduation (an increase of 17 months over the standard 12-moth OPT grant).

For more information on the initiative, see here.

The announcement is available here.

A fact sheet is available here.