In surprise outreach, Donald Trump pledges to reform H-1B visa programme

Donald Trump

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"H-1B holders in the U.S. can be 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 wrote on Twitter on Friday, amidst a partial shutdown of the federal government and negotiations to end it.

As of April 2017, when Trump signed an executive order - "Buy American and Hire American" - it's become more hard for US companies to hire people via H-1B.

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.

President Donald Trump said on Friday he is planning changes including a possible pathway to U.S. citizenship to foreigners holding H-1B visas, issued temporarily to highly educated immigrants who work in specialty occupations such as technology or medicine.

Trump has said he will consider a broader reform of immigration, but not before funding is secured for a concrete or steel wall along the border and more technology and personnel to oversee the barrier.

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The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people. The president's message on January 11 suggests that the White House has reviewed at least one proposal and has decided on a course of action.

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. H-1B visa holders can apply for a green card to obtain permanent residency - but even a green card does not equate to citizenship. It would also streamline the application process with a new electronic registration system. Any job that requires workers to have at least a bachelor's degree falls under the H-1B for specialty occupations. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the US government that is now in its 21st day. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.

The proposed changes could result in a higher percentage of visas going to American tech companies, according to some experts.

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

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