Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Trump Promises Changes To H1-B Visas, Including Potential Citizenship

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Thursday Jan. 10 2019 after returning from a trip to the southern border Trump floats 'path to citizenship', says H1B changes coming soon
Deanna Wagner | 11 January, 2019, 22:18

President Donald Trump says changes are coming in the way that the US handles temporary H1-B visas, which allow American companies to bring high-tech and other skilled workers into the USA from overseas.

"H-1B holders in the United States can be rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship", the President wrote on Twitter on Friday, amidst a partial shutdown of the federal government and negotiations to end it. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S", he tweeted.

The H-1B visa, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, lets US employers temporarily employ foreign workers with at least a bachelor's degree for speciality occupations.

But it's unclear whether the revisions he has in store will put the minds of the 85,000 immigrants brought to the US on skilled work visas each year at ease.

Much Indian support in the U.S. for president Trump is premised on his pledge to reform the immigration system that many experts say discriminates against those to come to the country legally while favoring illegal immigrants who are beneficiaries of various amnesty and regularization programs.

In November, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had proposed major changes in the H-1B application process which it said is aimed at awarding this visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers.

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The announcement comes as Trump continues to spar with Democrats over his plan for a $5.7 billion wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral. The White House did not immediately comment on what kind of changes Trump was considering. Some immigration experts do not believe the new registration system will be ready in time for the next lottery, which occurs in the spring.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has sought to stem illegal immigration and to deport more immigrants living in the United States illegally.

"This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program", the Trump campaign stated in August 2015.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from USA citizens. But the visa program has also drawn criticism for being used heavily by foreign outsourcing companies that squeeze out American firms.

USA companies often use H-1B visas to hire graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.