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Donald Trump teases changes for H-1B visa holders

12 January 2019
Donald Trump teases changes for H-1B visa holders

US President Donald Trump said Friday that he will change the H1-B visa system for professionals to ensure "certainty" and a path to citizenship for those on the visa.

President Trump vowed in a tweet on Friday to make changes to the H-1B visa program in the US, including offering a potential path to citizenship for visa holders.

"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the USA".

Mr. Trump has expressed openness to a broader immigration overhaul, but has insisted that he first wants funding for a concrete or steel wall or barrier, along with funding for technology and personnel to handle the situation at the border.

When asked about Trump's tweet, US Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars provided a statement about a formal proposal in December for changes to the H-1B process, which are likely to become final later this year.

The tweet came as a partial government shutdown enters its fourth week amid an impasse over Trump's demand that lawmakers to allot $5.7 billion for construction of his proposed wall along the U.S. -Mexico border, a central 2016 campaign promise. The White House did not immediately comment on what kind of changes Trump was considering.

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.

The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

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

Immigration authorities have also pledged to revise the requirements to qualify for an H-1B visa in an effort to curb abuse and move to a more merit-based system. The president has threatened to call a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the USA government that is now in its 21st day.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from USA citizens.

And in November 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor began requiring employers of H-1B recipients use a new labor condition application form.

USA companies often use H-1B visas to hire graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.