President Donald Trump promised on Friday morning to facilitate the "stay" of foreign workers holding the controversial H-1B visa and possibly facilitate US citizenship.
"Holders of H1-B (sic) in the United States can rest assured that changes will soon occur that will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship," Trump said. tweeted.
"We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career choices in the US"
The H-1B, designed for workers in jobs requiring highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or higher, has become a strong point in the debate on immigration to the United States. Tech giants and other Silicon Valley companies are pushing for new visas to be capped at 85,000 per year, while critics denounce abuses reported by outsourcing firms and say companies many sectors use this visa to replace US workers with cheaper foreign labor.
Trump did not provide any further details regarding his administration's plans for H-1B and he did not specify what he meant by way of citizenship. At present, holders of H-1B can apply for green cards, which allow them to access citizenship, but waiting for a green card can be long, in particularly for Indian nationals.
The Trump administration has already cracked down on the H-1B bid process. Businesses report a significant increase in the number of visa rejections and requests for additional evidence of the validity of an application. Government reviewers were given the power to torpedo requests without asking for more information. A premium treatment service for apps has been suspended. And as part of an initiative to outsource businesses, employers who apply for the H-1B model based on a lottery must now indicate whether a worker will be subcontracted to another company. Last month, the US Department of Homeland Security proposed a change to the H-1B lottery that would give preference to highly educated applicants with a degree from US universities.
The administration is also committed to depriving the spouses of many H-1B holders of their ability to work, in order to prevent the employment of approximately 100,000 people, mainly women of Indian nationality.