H1-B visas to undergo ‘changes’, says Trump

Donald Trump

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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.

USA president Donald Trump on Friday pledged to reform the H-1B visa process, a skilled temporary guest worker programme widely used by Indian professionals, saying he wants to "encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US" and provide "a potential path to citizenship".

US President Donald Trump on Friday assured H-1B visa holders, an overwhelming majority of whom are Indian IT professionals, that his administration will soon bring changes that will give them certainty to stay in America and a "potential path to citizenship".

Silicon Valley tech giants overwhelmingly support Democrats, which may mean that Trump is using the potential H-1B reforms as a bargaining chip to make a deal that would scupper the stalemate and end the shutdown. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.", Trump said in an early morning tweet. As a requirement, employers can't offer an H-1B petition to a foreign worker if there are Americans vying for the job.

The proposal is created to increase the number of H-1B beneficiaries by 16 percent, or 5,340 more workers, who hold advanced degrees from American universities.

Trump and Democrats in the US Congress are at an impasse over spending legislation to fund the federal government.

Competition is tough for the temporary visas.

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.

The president's unexpected outreach towards foreign guest workers came amid a furious debate over immigration reform and the need for a southern border wall, which he says is need to staunch illegal immigrants, while pledging to smoothen the path for legal immigration.

The devil is in the details, said Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a nonprofit group which advocates for pro-immigration policies.

The H-1B visa allows foreigners to work in the United States for three years, with options to renew their stay.

While it was unclear what prompted Trump´s tweet, The Washington Post on Friday ran a front-page article on how tech workers are increasingly moving from the United States to Canada due to the hassle in obtaining H1-B visas.

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