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Good news for Indians? Trump vows easier path to citizenship via H-1B Pledges Reforms To Encourage Skilled Workers

January 12, 2019 05:41 AM

COURTESY TOI JAN 12

Good news for Indians? Trump vows easier path to citizenship via H-1B
Pledges Reforms To Encourage Skilled Workers
Chidanand.Rajghatta@timesgroup.com

Washington:

US 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”.


The president’s outreach came amid a furious debate over immigration reform and the need for a southern border wall, which he says is needed to staunch illegal immigrants, while pledging to smoothen the path for legal immigration. Nearly 420,000 foreign guest workers, including more than 300,000 Indians, are stuck in what is called H-1B limbo, their route to permanent residency and citizenship squeezed by country-specific quotas and the obsessive focus on resolving the illegal immigration issue at the expense of the legal immigration gridlock.

“H-1B holders... can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay...” Trump tweeted.


Under current system, 9,800 Indians get green cards a year

Much Indian support in the US for Trump is premised on his pledge to reform the immigration system that many experts say discriminates against those to come to the country legally while favouring illegal immigrants who are beneficiaries of various amnesty and regularisation programs. Because the current system imposes a 7% per country quota for green cards or the legal permanent residency (LPR), countries such as India and China, with large population of potential or aspiring immigrants, have to wait several years to become US residents.

The current Immigration and Naturalisation Act allocates 140,000 visas annually for five employment-based LPR categories, roughly 12% of the 1.1 million LPRs admitted in fiscal 2017. It further limits each immigrant-sending country to an annual maximum of 7% of all employment-based LPR admissions, which means only about 9,800 of the more than 300,000 Indians waiting for green cards get it each year, even as more and more are added to the waiting pool. The president’s softening on the legal immigration through H-1B issue did not please the American tech workers’ constituency that has campaigned against the H-1B guest worker programme citing widespread misuse.

 

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