Trump Says He's Eyeing Citizenship Path in Worker Visa Program

US President Donald Trump said Friday that he will change the H1-B visa system for professionals to ensure "certainty" and a path to citizenship for those on the visa.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday (Jan 11) he plans changes to the H-1B programme 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 previous year. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S", he tweeted. "I can completely understand how frustrating that would be to the employer", the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Francis Cissna, said in August past year.

He was referring to a set of rule changes that were proposed by the administration last December to introduce electronic registration of petitioners to replace the lottery system, which is meant to make the process less expensive, simpler and certain - to "reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process".

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.

Trump has also derided visas granted to family members of U.S. residents or citizens as "chain migration", and backed a Republican proposal in 2017 that would have slashed legal immigration in half. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) directed questions about it to the White House, and a response was awaited.

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

Competition is tough for the temporary visas, which require a bachelor's degree.

Democrats say the wall project, which carries a total price tag of more than $20 billion, is expensive, ineffective and immoral.

Trump pledged to reform coveted H1-B visas, for which three-quarters of applicants are from India, majority in the technology sector. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government that is now in its 21st day. In April 2017, he signed an executive order for a review of the H-1B program.

H-1B visas are created to bring in foreign workers, especially ones with specialized knowledge of their field.

Trump's major announcement on H-1B visas - through twitter, without any further details - comes as part of his known preference to attract and retain best talent in the US.

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