Trump says changes coming on high-tech visas

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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.

Trump, who has also sought to limit legal immigration, in April 2017 ordered a reform of the USA visa program to benefit educated and highly skilled workers. Because the current system imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of Green Cards or the Legal Permanent Residency (LPR), countries such as India and China, with large population of potential or aspiring immigrants, have to wait long years to become United States residents.

"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. "This isn't it", Numbers USA, a civil immigration forum, said in response to Trump's tweet. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.", Trump said in an early morning tweet.

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Under the proposed rule, companies seeking foreign workers on H-1B visa - under the Congressional mandated annual caps - would first have to electronically register with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period.

The proposal is created to increase by 5,340, or 16 per cent, the number of H-1B beneficiaries who hold advanced degrees from American universities.

Silicon Valley tech giants overwhelmingly support Democrats, which may mean that Trump is using the potential H-1B reforms as a bargaining chip to make a deal that would scupper the stalemate and end the shutdown.

Competition is tough for the temporary visas, which require a bachelor's degree. The president has threatened to call a national emergency if Congress doesn't reach an agreement to fund his border wall.

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The President has said the wall will stem illegal immigration, and has long promised to deliver it after it was a key element of his campaign strategy.

The H-1B is non-immigrant visa that allows USA employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine.

The H-1B visa allows foreigners to work in the United States for three years, with options to renew their stay.

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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