Trump promises citizenship path for skilled workers

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It was unclear what Trump meant by a "potential path to citizenship" for H-1B visa holders, who already are eligible to be sponsored by their employers for legal permanent residency, which would make them eligible to become US citizens.

"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", Mr. Trump tweeted.

The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people. In the first two years of Trump's presidency, the administration had made it hard for H-1B visa holders over the extension and issuing of new ones.

The H-1B is an employment visa for high-skilled foreign workers, specifically for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or higher.

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.

"H1-B holders in the USA can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship".

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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.

H1-B visas are granted to professional workers sponsored by employers for a period of three years, which can be extended once. It would also streamline the application process with a new electronic registration system. The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in USA history.

There has been no further comment from the President or the White House on what changes could be implemented, or when they may come into effect. In 2018, the United States hit the limit on the number of H-1Bs it could issue, 65,000, by the first week of April, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Democrats say the wall project, which carries a total price tag of more than $20 billion, is expensive, ineffective and immoral.

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

During the campaign, Mr. Trump proposed increasing the prevailing wage paid to H-1B visa holders in an effort to force companies to give entry-level jobs to an existing pool of unemployed workers in the USA, instead of bringing in cheaper workers from overseas. The visas are heavily used in the tech sector.

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