Pres. Trump says changes coming on high-tech visas

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.

U.S. president Donald Trump on Friday pledged to reform the H-1B visa process, a skilled temporary guest worker programme widely used by Indian professionals, saying he wants to "encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US" and provide "a potential path to citizenship". "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.", Trump said in an early morning tweet. "In the annual battle for H-1Bs between IT outsourcing companies and tech companies seeking longer-term workers, this rule would probably help the latter", Doug Rand, co-founder of Seattle startup Boundless Immigration and a former immigration policy official in the Obama White House, said in November.

When asked about Trump's tweet, USCIS spokesman Michael Bars pointed to the administration's proposed changes to the H-1B process, which are likely to become final later this year.

The dispute, which pits the White House against Democrats in Congress, has led to one of the longest government shutdowns in United States history.

The Republican president has often said he wanted an immigration system that favoured educated or highly skilled people.

It would also streamline the application process with a new electronic registration system.

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

Almost 400,000 foreign guest workers, including more than 300,000 Indian professionals, are stuck in what is called H1-B limbo, their route to permanent residency and citizenship squeezed by country-specific quotes and the obsessive focus on resolving the illegal immigration issue at the expense of the legal immigration gridlock. 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 announcement comes as Trump continues to spar with Democrats over his plan for a $5.7 billion wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

Trump campaigned for president on a promise to crack down on immigrants, who he said took jobs away from USA citizens. The dispute has led to a partial shutdown of the USA government that is now in its 21st day.

What it means for tech: Big tech companies apply for H-1B visas on behalf of foreign-born workers to fill their talent shortages.

The United States grants 65,000 H-1B visas every year and an additional 20,000 visas for those with a master's degree or higher.

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