Many people living outside to the United States want nothing more than to start a new life in pursuit of the American dream in Atlanta, Georgia and other areas of the country. Unfortunately, the options to do so legally are sometimes limited. Many would argue that President Trump’s administration has made it even more difficult for those to do it. Adding to the confusion, in seeming contradiction to recent DHS policy, the President recently made a social media post that indicates he is considering changes that could impact H-1B visa holders, potentially even offering them a direct path to naturalization.
H-1B non-immigrant visas are issued to temporary workers who are highly educated and work in specialized fields. These workers are often employed in technology. Annually, 85,000 of these visas are issued for workers at for-profit companies. This cap does not apply to certain non-profit companies such as research institutions and hospitals affiliated with universities.
Trump’s social media post hints at changes for H-1B holders to increase the “simplicity and certainty” of the immigrants’ stays. He also suggests that changes could include “a potential path to citizenship.” Currently H-1B visa holders can attain citizenship by first becoming lawful permanent residents and then naturalizing. It is unclear if the President is referring to a direct path outside of the Green Card process. Though there is still a higher demand for H-1Bs than the cap allows, applications have been falling. However, some argue that this is due to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service changes in 2018 that acted as a deterrent for visa applicants and companies.
Despite the announcement that changes may be coming to the H-1B visa program, including the possibility of a direct naturalization path, the President did not offer any additional details on what those specific changes might be. Additionally, White House representatives declined to clarify the comment. Fortunately, there are experienced attorneys who can help those Washington, D.C. pursuing the American dream fully understand the current process and the potential impact of any potential changes.