Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Global | By Craig Ferguson

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

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

Much Indian support in the United States 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.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday (Jan 11) he plans changes to the H-1B programme that grants temporary visas for specialty occupations such as technology or medicine, but his administration said later he was referring to changes that were proposed a year ago.

H1-B visa, which is availed by a large number of Indians, is said to be simplified.

H-1B visa-holders are often sponsored by their employers for permanent residency (better known as Green Card), which is a step away from citizenship.

"H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship", Trump tweeted.

In the first two years of his presidency, Trump administration made it tough for the H-1B visa holders over their overstay, extension and issuing of new visa to them. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.", Trump said in an early morning tweet.

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

The proposal is created to increase by 5,340, or 16 per cent, the number of H-1B beneficiaries who hold advanced degrees from American universities.

Immigration authorities have also pledged to revise the requirements to qualify for an H-1B visa in an effort to curb abuse and move to a more merit-based system. Trump has refused to sign on to a bill unless it includes $5.6 billion to build a wall along the country's southern border to prevent illegal immigration by migrants. The president has threatened to call a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from USA citizens.

The change would allow immigration officials to review all H-1B applicants, including those with advanced degrees, at the same time, slightly increasing the chances that a higher percentage of the visas will go to more educated workers.

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.

And in November 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor began requiring employers of H-1B recipients use a new labor condition application form.

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