Trump promises changes to visas for skilled workers

President Trump said Friday that he is planning an overhaul to H-1B visas - which allow foreigners to work in the USA temporarily in specialty occupations - that could lead to American citizenship.

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". We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S. In the first two years of Trump's presidency, the administration had made it hard for H-1B visa holders over the extension and issuing of new ones.

In April 2017, Trump ordered a review of the H1-B visa program to ensure that the United States admits "the most skilled and highest paid" applicants. The change would also prioritize H-1B applications for workers with advanced degrees from American universities. Holders are also eligible to be sponsored by their employers for legal permanent residency, which would make them eligible to become USA citizens. "This isn't it", Numbers USA, a civil immigration forum, said in response to Trump's tweet.

Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers that the United States should "endeavour to select the very best" among the applicants under the H-1B foreign work visa programme.

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

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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. 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.

Much Indian support in the U.S. for president Trump is premised on his pledge to reform the immigration system that many experts say discriminates against those to come to the country legally while favoring illegal immigrants who are beneficiaries of various amnesty and regularization programs.

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral.

The real estate mogul ran for president as a hardliner on immigration and has previously vowed to crack down on H1-Bs by encouraging reporting of visa fraud and insisting that businesses first hire Americans.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump proposed increasing the prevailing wage paid to H-1B visa holders in an effort to force companies to give entry-level jobs to an existing pool of unemployed workers in the US, instead of bringing in cheaper workers from overseas.

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