Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Donald Trump promises changes to H1-B visas, including potential citizenship

Donald Trump promises changes to H1-B visas, including potential citizenship

US President Donald Trump said Friday that he will change the H1-B visa system for professionals to ensure "certainty" and a path to citizenship for those on the visa.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he is planning changes to H-1B visas, which are issued temporarily to highly educated immigrants so they can work in specialty occupations, that would create simplicity, certainty and a possibility that the workers could become US citizens. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S", he tweeted.

The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people. The changes were meant to "ensure our visa system benefits Americans and United States workers to the greatest extent possible and reinforces the administration's commitment to the legal immigration process", an official said on background. The White House did not immediately comment on what kind of changes Trump was considering.

Trump issued the message on H-1B amid a government shutdown which resulted from an impasse with congressional Democrats, who are refusing to fund a security package for the southwest border that includes funds for constructing a barrier, Trump's signature campaign promise.

The H-1B is non-immigrant visa that allows USA employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the USA government that is now in its 21st day.

Trump on Friday tweeted that his administration is planning an overhaul of USA policies on H-1B visa and will encourage talented and highly-skilled people to pursue career options in the US.

Competition is tough for the temporary visas.

Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers that the U.S. should "endeavour to select the very best" among the applicants under the H-1B foreign work visa programme.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from United States citizens. As a requirement, employers can't offer an H-1B petition to a foreign worker if there are Americans vying for the job.

"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. Only the headline has been changed.

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