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Trump wants merit-based immigration, H-1B visas only for highly-skilled: WH

The White House acknowledged that legislatively, the issue might get caught up in a border discussion

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

The administration wants to make changes in the existing H-1B provisions for it to play a better role in attracting highly skilled foreign workers as opposed to the what it has now evolved into an "outsourcing" role, the said Thursday.

"The president's overall instinct -- and he said this publicly a number of times -- he wants to find ways to make sure that people who graduate in a highly skilled area like in the country. He finds that a very positive part of the overall immigration," told a audience on Thursday.

During the Post's live discussion on new technology, when asked about the president's thoughts on H1B immigration, Liddell said, "He (Trump) has talked about merit immigration, clearly that (H-1B) fits in merit immigration."

At the same time, he acknowledged that legislatively, the issue might get caught up in a border discussion.

A former at and General Motors, Liddell is tasked with overseeing and coordinating Trump's policy process.

"To the extent that we can from a regulatory point of view rather than a legislative point of view, because the H-1B system to a large extent is governed by legislation -- but to the extent that we can modify the regulatory point of view to promote it to be more highly skilled as opposed to roles, there's 1,20,000 H-1Bs. So it's quite a big pool," the said.

"Traditionally, unfortunately, they have gone to lower-skilled types of jobs," Liddell said.

The administration, he said, would love to find ways to change that as more people are coming out with PhDs in the tech sector.

"So the is 100 per cent aligned with that. We'll try and do it as much as we can by regulatory; if it can be done legislatively as well in some way that would as part of a merit-based system, that would be fantastic," Liddell said.

The top White House emphasised that there is need to carry on reforms in H-1B to keep more talented graduates in this country.

This is an incredibly constructive part of the immigration debate, which, unfortunately doesn't get a lot of focus, he said.

Liddell said has repeatedly spoken about merit-based reform as part of the immigration platform. The Silicon Valley and the tech industry should welcome that as a concept, he said.

"Relatively, as a country, a very small proportion of the people who come in as legal immigrants do it on a merit-based system relative to any other country I know, he said.

"So promoting the concept of merit-based immigration, which clearly would be at least partially orientated towards the tech sector, I would think that there should be a high degree of alignment on," Liddell said.

First Published: Fri, November 09 2018. 07:30 IST