Donald Trump promises H-1B visa reforms, pitches 'path to citizenship'


In a surprise move that seems to be bringing quite some cheer among Indians in the United States, president Donald Trump has said that his administration will soon bring important reforms to the H-1B visa that is sure to benefit the holders.

He even went on to add that the upcoming changes would not just give the visa holders certainty about their stay, but could also be a "potential path to citizenship." Trump made the announcement on Friday, January 11, through a tweet in which he also said that the US was willing to welcome highly-skilled people.

"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. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S."

While many believe that the tweet was a hint at Trump softening stance in regard to immigration, American workers did not take the message too kindly. Responding to his tweet, Numbers USA, an immigration forum said: "Mr. President, what about American tech workers who are being displaced by H-1B guest workers and recent college grads who can't find jobs in STEM fields? American workers are truly the best and brightest. You pledged to put American workers first. This isn't it."

Another user also said that Trump's statements were a little "misleading" and that greencard had a huge backlog. "Slightly misleading as most worldwide EB #greencard categories are current. Multi-year Backlog applies mostly to citizens of India and in a lesser way China and Philippines," he wrote.

Several Twitter users also questioned the Trump admin's policy in terms of asylum seekers.

While one wrote: "So if you are smart you are allowed in, but if you are fleeing for your life and your children's lives, you have to stay on the other side of your imaginary wall? I commend you continuing the H1-B, but trying to act all high and mighty over this is a joke," another added: "H1-B holders deserve a path to citizenship, but asylum seekers also deserve a chance to save themselves and their families from violence."

Amid the H-1B debate a user also said that nothing was assured when it came to the policies of the Trump admin adding: "Time to open the government back up and end this madness! This will be the longest government shutdown in the history of this country!"

H-1B visas and the American immigration laws have been the hot topic of discussion since Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. Several reforms have been made since and the president has often said that the US was ready to take in highly-skilled workers who were legal immigrants.

On November 30, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a 139-page document, detailing the changes it plans to bring about in terms of the H-1B visa in the future.

As per the reforms, the H-1B visas will now be awarded on a more stringent merit basis, and will in turn benefit highly-skilled workers. Not just that, the move will work in the favour of applicants who have a master's degree from a US university.

As of now, the US awards 65,000 H-1B visas each fiscal and an additional 20,000 to applicants with a US master's degree. However, the USCIS will reverse the order and count all the applications to reach the 65,000 cap first. Only once these slots are filled, the USCIS will select petitions for the 20,000 advanced degree slot.

"Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap," the DHS had said.