United States President Donald Trump on Friday said his administration is planning an overhaul of policies on the H-1B visa that will encourage talented and highly-skilled people to pursue career options in the country.
"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", Trump said in a Twitter post.
As of April 2017, when Trump signed an executive order - "Buy American and Hire American" - it's become more hard for USA companies to hire people via H-1B. If obtained, it allows a person to remain in the country for an initial three years, with an option to extent to up to six years.
The president's softening on the legal immigration through H-1B issue did not please the American tech workers constituency that has campaigned against the H-1B guest worker program citing widespread misuse, and which supported him in hope that he will curtail it.
H-1B holders are now eligible to apply for and receive lawful permanent resident status, a.k.a. a green card.
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 USA citizens. Trump, a Republican, has embraced changes to the immigration system to favor educated or highly skilled people.
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.
"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".
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.
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. Any job that requires workers to have at least a bachelor's degree falls under the H-1B for specialty occupations.
The Trump administration, she said, has stepped up its measures to detect employment-based visa fraud and abuse, but certain non-immigrant visa programmes need reform in order to protect American workers better.
USA companies often use H-1B visas to hire graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.