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Trump eyes path to citizenship as part of revamp for foreign worker visa program

Skilled, talented workers welcome, president says

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's administration wants to change the foreign worker visa program to include a pathway to citizenship that's more direct. 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.

What does this mean?

"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 wrote Friday on Twitter. "We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S."

The H1-B visa program allows companies to hire foreign workers for some skilled occupations.

Trump has said he will consider a broader reform of immigration, but not before funding is secured for a concrete or steel wall along the border and more technology and personnel to oversee the barrier.

His tweet arrives at the end of week three in the partial government shutdown. Trump and Congress are deadlocked over how to fund the border wall, one of his key 2016 campaign promises. Trump suggested this week that emergency disaster funds could be used to help fund the project. He has also said he might declare a national emergency to push through the border wall project if Congress cannot reach an agreement to fund it.

The president didn't say specifically how the visa program would be overhauled. But his administration has talked about it since last year.

What is the background?

During his presidential campaign, Trump suggested an increase in prevailing wages for H-1B visa-holders. That would force companies to consider unemployed U.S. workers for entry-level jobs instead of bringing in workers from overseas.

"This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program," the Trump campaign stated in August 2015.

His campaign website also stated:

When politicians talk about 'immigration reform' they mean: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties.

Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change.
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