One of the most sought-after visa programs in the USA, the H-1B, could see some significant changes in 2019, according to President Trump, including a potential path to citizenship for recipients of the non-immigrant visa. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.", Trump said in an early morning tweet.
Much Indian support in the USA 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.
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The H-1B visa allows United States companies to employ skilled workers from overseas - more than three lakh Indians are believed to be on this work permit.
"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", the Trump campaign wrote in an August 2015 immigration platform.
Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allots about 85,000 of the H-1B visas - 65,000 for applicants with a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and 20,000 for those with a master's degree or higher.
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The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people.
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.
And, two, change the processing procedures to clear more applicant masters and higher academic qualification, which would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 % (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
President Trump said Friday that he is planning an overhaul to H-1B visas - which allow foreigners to work in the U.S. temporarily in specialty occupations - that could lead to American citizenship. The visas are heavily used in the tech sector. In April 2017, he signed an executive order for a review of the H-1B program. If enacted, it would require employers to enter an online registry for each worker they want to hire using an H-1B visa before the application period opens.
When asked about Trump's tweet, USCIS spokesman Michael Bars pointed to the administration's proposed changes to the H-1B process, which are likely to become final later this year.