Trump says changes coming on high-tech visas

"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. The change would also prioritize H-1B applications for workers with advanced degrees from American universities.

"This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program", his campaign wrote in an August 2015 immigration platform, according to CBS News.

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. Because the current system imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of Green Cards or the Legal Permanent Residency (LPR), countries such as India and China, with large population of potential or aspiring immigrants, have to wait long years to become U.S. residents.

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.

The H1-B visa program allows US companies to hire foreign workers in some skilled occupations. It is a non-immigrant visa that allows USA companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Trump issued the message on H-1B amid a government shutdown which resulted from an impasse with congressional Democrats, who are refusing to fund a security package for the southwest border that includes funds for constructing a barrier, Trump's signature campaign promise.

Competition is tough for the temporary visas, which require a bachelor's degree.

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

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral.

The H-1B is non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine.

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.

  • Joey Payne