Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Donald Trump promises changes to H1-B visas, including potential citizenship

Donald Trump,H1-B visa,US citizenship US President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington
Ellis Copeland | 12 January, 2019, 06:40

H-1B visa programme allows U.S. employers, which include Indian companies with American operations such as TCS and Infosys, to hire foreigners for speciality professions to make up for the shortage of locally available hands.

"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 wrote on Twitter.

The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people.

In the first two years of his presidency, Trump administration made it tough for the H-1B visa holders over their overstay, extension and issuing of new visa to them.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the H1-B visa permits U.S. employers to hire temporary foreign workers with at least a bachelor's degree, or equivalent specialized work experience, to fill needs not met by the American workforce. "These proposed regulatory changes would help ensure more of the best and brightest workers from around the world come to America under the H-1B programme, including up to an estimated 16% rise in number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a United States institution", he said.

Donald Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from U.S. citizens. The duration of stay is limited to three or six years, and the law limits the number which can be issued across the USA each year.

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The United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas every year and an additional 20,000 visas for those with a master's degree or higher. The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in USA history.

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral.

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. It would also streamline the application process with a new electronic registration system.

U.S. companies often use H-1B visas to hire graduate-level workers in several specialised fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.

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.

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