Trump says massive visa overhaul could lead to United States citizenship

Donald Trump

In April 2017, President Donald Trump ordered the attorney general and the secretaries of state, labor, and Homeland Security to propose reforms to the H-1B visa system.

Trump said in an early morning tweet: "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, who has also sought to limit legal immigration, in April 2017 ordered a reform of the US visa program to benefit educated and highly skilled workers.

Trump's tweet comes as a good news for Indian professionals, especially in the IT sector, who now have to wait for almost a decade to get a Green Card or permanent legal residency.

"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 wrote on Twitter.

Silicon Valley tech giants overwhelmingly support Democrats, which may mean that Trump is using the potential H-1B reforms as a bargaining chip to make a deal that would scupper the stalemate and end the shutdown.

"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the USA", he added.

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Competition is tough for the temporary visas, which require a bachelor's degree.

The president didn't say specifically how the visa program would be overhauled.

The proposal is created to increase the number of H-1B beneficiaries by 16 percent, or 5,340 more workers, who hold advanced degrees from American universities. That would force companies to consider unemployed USA workers for entry-level jobs instead of bringing in workers from overseas.

Mr Trump wants to include $5.6 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico.

The devil is in the details, said Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a nonprofit group which advocates for pro-immigration policies.

Some Trump advisors, pandering to this nativist constituency, have been leery of the H-1B program, claiming that it brings in sub-standard low-paid foreign guest workers who take jobs from American professionals. 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 dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the US government that is now in its 21st day. The visas are heavily used in the tech sector.

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.

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