President Donald Trump told H-1B visa holders to "rest assured" because "changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty" to their status in the United States in a tweet early Friday. Trump has refused to sign on to a bill unless it includes $5.6 billion to build a wall along the country's southern border to prevent illegal immigration by migrants. The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in U.S. history. The president has said that foreign workers should be selected based on skill and paygrade and must not replace Americans. The changes were meant to "ensure our visa system benefits Americans and USA workers to the greatest extent possible and reinforces the administration's commitment to the legal immigration process", an official said on background.
What's changed already: The federal government has already made changes to its H-1B approval practices with significant results, part of a broader effort to bridal the legal immigration system.
Doug Rand, a former White House official in the Obama administration who worked on immigration issues, said the proposed changes to the lottery selection process were at best modest and at worst could cause chaos.
And, two, change the processing procedures to clear more applicant masters and higher academic qualification, which would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 % (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a United States institution of higher education.
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H-1B visa-holders are often sponsored by their employers for permanent residency (better known as Green Card), which is a step away from citizenship.
Competition is tough for the temporary visas. In 2018, the United States hit the limit on the number of H-1B visas it could issue, 65,000, by the first week of April, according to the Department of Homeland Security. It would also streamline the application process with a new electronic registration system. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises.
USA companies often use H-1B visas to hire graduate-level workers in specialized fields including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.
The real estate mogul ran for president as a hardliner on immigration and has previously vowed to crack down on H1-Bs by encouraging reporting of visa fraud and insisting that businesses first hire Americans.