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Trump promises changes to visas for skilled workers

12 January 2019

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he plans to make changes to the H-1B program that grants temporary visas for specialty occupations such as technology or medicine, but his administration said later he was referring to changes that were proposed a year ago.

"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", the president tweeted.

The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people.

While it was unclear what prompted Trump's tweet, The Washington Post on Friday ran a front-page article on how tech workers are increasingly moving from the United States to Canada due to the hassle in obtaining H1-B visas.

In November, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had proposed major changes in the H-1B application process which it said is aimed at awarding this visa to the most skilled and highest paid foreign workers.

According to the proposed rules, companies employing workers on these visas would be required to electronically register with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services during a designated registration period.

US President Donald Trump says the changes will create simplicity, certainty.

What it means for tech: Big tech companies apply for H-1B visas on behalf of foreign-born workers to fill their talent shortages.

Competition is tough for the temporary visas. Trump has refused to sign on to a bill unless it includes $5.6 billion to build a wall along the country's southern border to prevent illegal immigration by migrants.

Democrats call the proposed wall expensive, ineffective and immoral. 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 partial government shutdown over the impasse between the White House and congressional Democrats regarding the wall funding entered its 21st day Friday - tying the longest ever. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.

The real estate mogul ran for president as a hardliner on immigration and has previously vowed to crack down on H1-Bs by encouraging reporting of visa fraud and insisting that businesses first hire Americans.

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

Trump promises changes to visas for skilled workers