Donald Trump promises changes to H-1B visa programme, including potential citizenship


The H-1B visa in the United States allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations, such as technology or medicine.

One of the most sought-after visa programs in the US, 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. But after seeing Trump's tweet Friday, he said that the "administration has used every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration across the board" and "it's no wonder that many companies and immigrants believe that the H-1B program is under siege".

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.

Previous changes the administration made in 2018 to the H-1B application process favor applications with advanced degrees.

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 employers for legal permanent residency, which would then make them eligible to become U.S. citizens.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Trump was referring to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought here as children who have seen their futures thrown into question after his decision to end the program a year ago.

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Microsoft: Microsoft hired 1,479 workers through H-1B in 2017, the second most of US companies - an increase in 334 employees from the year prior, or close to 29 percent. The White House did not immediately comment on what kind of changes Trump was considering. The president has threatened to call a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall.

The United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas every year and an additional 20,000 visas for those with a master's degree or higher.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from U.S. citizens. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the USA government that is now in its 21st day.

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 specialized fields including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.