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12 January 2019, 12:31 | Glen Norman
On H1-B visa, Donald Trump promises citizenship, welcomes talented, skilled people to US
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.
President Donald Trump says changes are coming in the way that the US handles temporary H1-B visas, which allow American companies to bring high-tech and other skilled workers into the USA from overseas.
The cap on the visas has frustrated tech giants, who rely on the H-1B program to bring in skilled workers due to a shortage in the United States.
What's changed already: The federal government has already made changes to its H-1B approval practices with significant results, part of a broader effort to bridal the legal immigration system.
"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".
The president's softening on the legal immigration through H-1B issue did not please the American tech workers constituency that has campaigned against the H-1B guest worker program citing widespread misuse, and which supported him in hope that he will curtail it.
"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the USA".
Studying official data, the Cato Institute last year estimated the wait for an Indian seeking an EB-2 visa, which provides permanent residency based on advanced academic achievement, had risen to 151 years - at which point, barring a medical miracle, the applicant would be dead.
Mr Trump wants to include $5.6 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico. 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.
Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral.
The partial government shutdown over the impasse between the White House and congressional Democrats regarding the wall funding entered its 21st day Friday - tying the longest ever.
Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from USA citizens.
H-1B is considered the most sought-after work visa among highly-skilled Indian professionals.
Trump's major announcement on H-1B visas - through twitter, without any further details - comes as part of his known preference to attract and retain best talent in the US.
Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told lawmakers that the USA should "endeavour to select the very best" among the applicants under the H-1B foreign work visa programme.
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