President Trump Hints at Citizenship for H-1B Visa Workers

On January 11, President Trump offered up a Tweet about the H-1B visa program. Alluding to “changes” that would bring “simplicity and certainty” for H-1B visa holders, along with a “potential path to citizenship,” he concluded by saying: “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.”

If Trump is indeed interested in adjusting the H-1B program to give visa holders an easier pathway to U.S. citizenship, it would prove a remarkable about-face. During his campaign for the Presidency, Trump suggested that H-1B visas were “very, very bad for workers” and that the U.S. “should end it.”

In early 2017, right before signing an executive order that directed the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State to review current H-1B policy, Trump told the audience: “[H-1Bs] should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants, and they should never be used to replace Americans.”

But the Trump administration’s changes to the H-1B program have been largely incremental, at least so far. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) suspended premium processing, claiming it would allow agency workers to better handle a backlog of petitions.

Nonetheless, those incremental changes could add up to something much larger over the next year or two, especially if the Trump administration follows through on its proposal to adjust the H-1B applicant pools to give those workers with advanced degrees a much better chance of actually obtaining a visa. Under the proposed plan, all applicants—including those with advanced degrees—will enter the annual “general pool” of 65,000 visas; after that first pool is sorted through, any remaining applicants with advanced degrees will enter a 20,000-visa “master’s cap” pool. That’s the reverse of the current system, in which applicants with advanced degrees enter the “master’s cap” pool, after which the unaccepted remainder enter the “general pool.” In theory, it will give those with advanced degrees a better shot.

Trump’s new claim about a “potential path to citizenship,” however, is a new twist to this saga. Does he mean it, or did he make that statement as part of a larger political calculation? That remains to be seen.

16 Responses to “President Trump Hints at Citizenship for H-1B Visa Workers”

  1. Great. Too little, too late. How about a program aimed at finding lucrative, gainful, high-paying employement for the out-of-work American IT workers that were fired for not being “youthful” whatever your definition of “youthful” may be ?

    • What are you talking about?

      There is plenty of IT work, even for those who aren’t “youthful” (I am in my late fifties myself, and gainfully employed in IT). This is even true for those who haven’t kept up skills. For instance, there are still .NET applications that need maintaining, and even COBOL is still in demand!

      • Common Sense

        Note to “Dave” — if you’re not willing to move, then you scrounge for scraps wherever it is you currently live (the mid-west, according to your report).

        And while you scrounge for scraps, you’re fighting the younger and CHEAPER and less qualified competition in the mid-west while you do it.

        • @CommonSense – do you own a home? Do you have children in school? Do you have family where you are living? Seems your advice is naive and comes from someone who doesn’t have “roots” in your community. BTW – would love to move so contact me if you’d like to buy my house. You must not be competing with “offshore” types is all I can say.

  2. John Beret

    Follow the money. Trump doesn’t care about anything except Trump. This is his latest attempt to keep his house of cards from collapsing. His mantra is ..”if you don’t have the money for it.. then steal it from those with less”.

  3. 50yr old over the hill IT professional

    If President Drumpf thinks hard working Americans voted for him to make paths for citizens for H1-B workers, he’ll find out something very different on election day. END ALL WORK VISA PROGRAMS NOW!

    • annoyed by anonymous, illogical haters

      If a country do not want to have immigrants, foreign workers and no one else from other countries to live and contribute to their economy, they should also stop doing business with the other countries, stop selling their goods to other countries, stop international trade, stop consuming their resources and stop even visiting or interfering, interacting with other countries. It can not happen only in one way – like, I want your money, your business but I don’t want you to come here and make money and contribute – is not going to happen. We live in a world of global trade certain things are give and take.

  4. Tech Companies need to exhaust all possibilities to hire and train American workers. There are plenty of underprivileged, poor neighborhoods with able American bodies. If Tech Companies made the effort to reach out to these communities, H1B Visas would not be a necessity. Women and minorities are often not given the equal resources, opportunities or education to participate in Technology Jobs.

    • Wrong. As someone who works in the industry, women and minorities actually get preferential treatment in education, hiring, training, progression, and in pretty much every single way. The industry is currently drunk on hiring under qualified female executives just for the sake of quotas.

  5. I support women and minorities should be given the opportunity to participate in IT jobs. For example, I am woman and a DBA specialist with incredible skills. For the pass 3 months, I have been on job hunt. I feel sad because most IT companies will not give me the job base on gender issues. The EEOC advocates for equal employment opportunities and companies have it on their career web page as well. The truth is kept secret ” do companies practice what they preach”?

  6. I’ve lost 4 jobs over the span of 20 years to overseas workers. Some of those workers are talented but this country is underseige and no one is doing anything to control or stop it. It’s amazing what’s going on and not in a good way.. Be worried!!

  7. Harsh Reality

    Very amusing. On the one hand, the loony progressive would have us believe that president Trump is a racist who doesn’t have the best interest of American workerss in mind?

    And yet they want use to think that he’d open up the H-1B lunacy to ever more foreigners to use, abuse, and victimize American workers?

    Oh wait, meanwhile the Democrats shut down the US government while they’re determined to keep the US borders wide open for ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS to abuse American citizens?

    Hmmm… which side of these two parties would be fighting for H-1B permit abuse?