Trump Says He's Eyeing Citizenship Path in Worker Visa Program

Erika Holt
January 12, 2019

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.

"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the United States".

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

When asked about Trump's tweet, US Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars provided a statement about a formal proposal in December for changes to the H-1B process, which are likely to become final later this year.

Trump, a Republican, and Democrats in the U.S. Congress are at an impasse, as refuses to end the longest shutdown in federal government history until he secures $5.6 billion to build a wall along the country's southern border.

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.

Trump has also derided visas granted to family members of U.S. residents or citizens as "chain migration", and backed a Republican proposal in 2017 that would have slashed legal immigration in half.

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

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Trump, who has also sought to limit legal immigration, in April 2017 ordered a reform of the USA visa program to benefit educated and highly skilled workers.

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

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.

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

"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.

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.

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.

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