Trump promises citizenship path for skilled workers

Blanche Robertson
January 12, 2019

Trump tweeted Friday that those who hold the temporary H1-B visas can "rest assured" because changes are coming that will bring "both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship".

As of April 2017, when Trump signed an executive order - "Buy American and Hire American" - it's become more hard for USA companies to hire people via H-1B.

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

President Donald Trump said on Friday he is planning changes including a possible pathway to United States citizenship to foreigners holding H-1B visas, issued temporarily to highly educated immigrants who work in specialty occupations such as technology or medicine.

It's unclear what Mr. Trump meant exactly, as simplifying a path to citizenship for such visa holders would nearly certainly require approval from Congress, and the White House has made no such suggestion in its latest border security funding proposal, or any other public offer.

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

Doug Rand, a former White House official in the Obama administration who worked on immigration issues, said the proposed changes to the lottery selection process were at best modest and at worst could cause chaos.

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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 H-1B visa program allows USA employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine.

Democrats say the wall project, which carries a total price tag of more than $20 billion, is expensive, ineffective and immoral. In 2018, the United States hit the limit on the number of H-1B visas it could issue, 65,000, by the first week of April, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has sought to stem illegal immigration and to deport more immigrants living in the United States illegally. If enacted, it would require employers to enter an online registry for each worker they want to hire using an H-1B visa before the application period opens.

The Trump administration, she said, has stepped up its measures to detect employment-based visa fraud and abuse, but certain non-immigrant visa programmes need reform in order to protect American workers better.

"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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