Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

High-Skilled Immigrants Could Get Path to Citizenship

Donald Trump Modal Trigger Getty Images
Kenny Thornton | 12 January, 2019, 06:38

President Trump said Friday that he is planning an overhaul to H-1B visas - which allow foreigners to work in the USA temporarily in specialty occupations - that could lead to American citizenship.

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".

What's changed already: The federal government has already made changes to its H-1B approval practices with significant results, part of a broader effort to bridal the legal immigration system.

The president's softening on the legal immigration through H-1B issue did not please the American tech workers constituency that has campaigned against the H-1B guest worker program citing widespread misuse, and which supported him in hope that he will curtail it.

This is not Mr Trump's first attempt to overhaul visas - in April 2017, he ordered a reform of the USA visa program to benefit educated and highly skilled workers. "These proposed regulatory changes would help ensure more of the best and brightest workers from around the world come to America under the H-1B programme, including up to an estimated 16% rise in number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution", he said.

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

"Bulls & Bears" panel on whether President Trump's focus on immigration will hurt Republicans during the midterms.

The United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas every year and an additional 20,000 visas for those with a master's degree or higher. 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. The White House did not immediately comment on what kind of changes Trump was considering. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises. If enacted, it would require employers to enter an online registry for each worker they want to hire using an H-1B visa before the application period opens.

The announcement of a revision in H1-B visa rules comes at a time when the U.S. government has reached the 21st day of shutdown on Friday, with no solution of reopening the government in the near future. But the visa program has also drawn criticism for being used heavily by foreign outsourcing companies that squeeze out American firms.

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