Trump says changes com­ing in U.S. han­dling of work­ing visas

The Daily Courier - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day promised changes in the way the U.S. han­dles tem­po­rary visas that al­low Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to bring high-tech and other skilled work­ers into the U.S.

In a tweet, Trump said those who hold the tem­po­rary H1-B visas can “rest as­sured” be­cause changes were com­ing that will bring “both sim­plic­ity and cer­tainty to your stay, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial path to cit­i­zen­ship.”

On Fri­day, he said the U.S. wants to en­cour­age ta­lented and highly skilled peo­ple to pur­sue ca­reers in the U.S.

The changes to which he was re­fer­ring are likely a pro­posal an­nounced late last year by the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, which over­sees im­mi­gra­tion. The pro­posal in­cluded a shift to on­line ap­pli­ca­tions for the cov­eted visas and changed pro­ce­dures to in­crease the ad­van­tages of ap­pli­cants with grad­u­ate de­grees.

It’s a lot­tery sys­tem. There are 65,000 visas avail­able, plus an ad­di­tional 20,000 for those with ad­vanced de­grees from a U.S. in­sti­tu­tion. The ad­vanced-de­gree visas are cho­sen first, and those not se­lected are thrown into the pot of the 65,000 visas, which in­clude those with bach­e­lor’s de­grees.

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials pro­posed flip­ping it so that the 65,000 visas are parceled out first to en­sure as many peo­ple with ad­vanced de­grees as pos­si­ble were al­lowed in.

The pro­posed changes were sub­ject to a pub­lic com­ment pe­riod that’s now closed. Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials will con­sider the com­ments and then pub­lish the fi­nal rules.

“These pro­posed reg­u­la­tory changes would help en­sure more of the best and bright­est work­ers from around the world come to Amer­ica,” said Michael J. Bars, spokesman for U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

Trump or­dered a re­view of the visa pro­gram. The tech in­dus­try in­sists the pro­gram is vi­tal. Pro­po­nents say it en­cour­ages stu­dents to stay in the U.S. af­ter get­ting their de­grees in high-tech spe­cial­ties.

Trump gave con­flict­ing state­ments about visas for high-skilled im­mi­grants. At some points, he ma­ligned current pro­grams, say­ing they took jobs from Amer­i­cans. At oth­ers, he stressed the need for more high-skilled work­ers and be­moaned the fact that for­eign­ers who at­tend Ivy League col­leges can’t stay in the U.S. and cre­ate jobs.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion raised con­cerns that some busi­nesses were us­ing the visas to favour for­eign­ers over U.S. work­ers.

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