Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

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

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

President Donald Trump on Friday said he is planning changes to H-1B visas, which are issued temporarily to highly educated immigrants so they can work in specialty occupations, that would create simplicity, certainty and a possibility that the workers could become USA citizens.

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".

Trump says the U.S. wants to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue careers in the U.S. As a candidate, he promised to stop H-1B visas from being used as a "cheap labor program".

U.S. President Donald Trump said today he is planning changes to the H-1B programme that grants temporarily visas to highly educated immigrants who work in specialty occupations such as technology or medicine. If obtained, it allows a person to remain in the country for an initial three years, with an option to extent to up to six years.

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.

H-1B holders are now eligible to apply for and receive lawful permanent resident status, a.k.a. a green card.

Trump on Friday tweeted that his administration is planning an overhaul of USA policies on H-1B visa and will encourage talented and highly-skilled people to pursue career options in the US.

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Although it is not clear what changes Trump has in mind, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to introduce a number of changes to the program, Axios reported.

H-1B is considered the most sought-after work visa among highly-skilled Indian professionals.

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.

The White House did not immediately comment on whether President Trump was considering changes beyond those proposed in new rules issued in December by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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. The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in United States history.

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.

Here's a look at the American companies (and industries) that benefited the most from the program in 2017. It is a non-immigrant visa that allows United States companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

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