In an early morning tweet Friday, President Donald Trump said that “H-1B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.”

The message has caused confusion among business groups that advocate for greater H-1B access as well as among anti-immigration groups who favor restricting the H-1B category.

Key points:

  • It is unclear what the president’s reference to a “path to citizenship” means; H-1B visa holders are already eligible to adjust status to permanent residency (and thereafter apply for citizenship) under existing law and regulation.
  • A regulation that reforms the H-1B process is already in the works—on Dec. 3, the Department of Homeland Security published the proposed regulation, which aims to change the H-1B cap selection process and does not address a path to citizenship.
  • DHS has not indicated in its regulatory agendas or in any public forum that it is considering changes to the current path to permanent residence and citizenship for H-1B visa holders.

BAL Analysis: There is no evidence that the Trump administration is altering the course of its H-1B policy of the past two years, which has been generally to restrict access for foreign skilled workers. The public comment period on the proposed H-1B regulation that affects how H-1B cap-subject petitions are selected ended Jan. 2 and a final rule is expected in coming months.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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