Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
World News | By Sandy Lane

Trump promises changes to visas for skilled workers

Trump promises changes to visas for skilled workers

In November, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had proposed major changes in the H-1B application process which it said is aimed at awarding this visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers.

President Trump floated a "potential path to citizenship" for H1-B visa holders in an early Friday morning tweet, as the partial government shutdown is set to become the longest shutdown on record.

The H1-B visa program allows USA companies to hire foreign workers in some skilled occupations. Holders are also eligible to be sponsored by their employers for legal permanent residency, which would make them eligible to become USA citizens.

"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 said.

But under an executive order signed by Trump in April 2017 - "Buy American and Hire American" - it's become more hard for USA companies to hire people via H-1B.

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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's tweet on the visa programme came amid his battle with congressional Democrats over spending legislation to fund the federal government.

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

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.

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral.

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The president didn't say specifically how the visa program would be overhauled. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the USA government that is now in its 21st day.

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

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.

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.

"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.

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