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

Frederick Owens
January 12, 2019

US President Donald Trump on Friday assured H-1B visa holders, an overwhelming majority of whom are Indian IT professionals, that his administration will soon bring changes that will give them certainty to stay in America and a "potential path to citizenship". Trump, a Republican, has embraced changes to the immigration system to favor educated or highly skilled people.

While it was unclear what prompted Trump's tweet, The Washington Post on Friday ran a front-page article on how tech workers are increasingly moving from the United States to Canada due to the hassle in obtaining H1-B visas.

And, two, change the processing procedures to clear more applicant masters and higher academic qualification, which would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 % (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a United States institution of higher education.

However, the visa does not provide any permanent path to citizenship for immigrant workers coming to the US.

Trump has said he will consider a broader reform of immigration, but not before funding is secured for a concrete or steel wall along the border and more technology and personnel to oversee the barrier. The duration of stay is limited to three or six years, and the law limits the number which can be issued across the U.S. each year.

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It would also entail a new electronic registration system meant to streamline the application process. The president's message on January 11 suggests that the White House has reviewed at least one proposal and has decided on a course of action. The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in U.S. history. The president has threatened to call a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall. Any job that requires workers to have at least a bachelor's degree falls under the H-1B for specialty occupations.

The President has said the wall will stem illegal immigration, and has long promised to deliver it after it was a key element of his campaign strategy.

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

The announcement of a revision in H1-B visa rules comes at a time when the United States government has reached the 21st day of shutdown on Friday, with no solution of reopening the government in the near future.

The proposed changes could result in a higher percentage of visas going to American tech companies, according to some experts.

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