Many people in California involved with the immigration system may worry every time a new tweet from President Donald Trump appears on his Twitter account. The president has announced significant policy plans regarding changes to immigration law through this decidedly unofficial channel, so the coming repercussions might be serious. On Jan. 11, 2019, another Trump tweet came as a surprise, as he announced that “changes are coming soon” for people with H-1B professional work visas. Since Trump took office, many visa holders have experienced issues, including limited approval times and lengthy delays.
The tweet said that the unspecified changes would enhance “simplicity and certainty,” providing a path to citizenship. However, H-1B visa holders are already eligible to seek to adjust their status to obtain a green card and, later, citizenship. No regulations have been put forward by the Department of Homeland Security that would indicate a change to existing law. Some experts say that Trump may be referring to other changes that would not affect eligibility for citizenship. For example, there are proposed changes that would affect the order of the H-1B visa lottery. Others noted that the business community is deeply concerned about delays and other restrictions on H-1B visas. Thus, they said Trump may simply be looking to shore up his popularity among corporate supporters frustrated with immigration policy.
Still others warned against the practice of reading too much into presidential tweets as a matter of course. Actual policy changes are far more significant than tweets, and that policy has made it harder for employers and professionals to make use of the H-1B visa program since April 2017.
Many companies rely on talented professionals working in the United States. Companies and workers concerned about how changes could affect their status can work with an immigration attorney to seek approval for their applications.