DHS Proposes Merit-Based Rule for More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a designated registration period. Under the proposed rule, USCIS would also reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption, likely increasing the number of beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected for an H-1B cap number, and introducing a more meritorious selection of beneficiaries.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelors or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. When USCIS receives more than enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B cap, a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, is used to select the petitions that are counted towards the number of petitions projected as needed to reach the cap.

The proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season.

Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education would be selected under the H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries. Importantly, the proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS expects that shifting to electronic registration would reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS. The proposed rule would help alleviate massive administrative burdens on USCIS since the agency would no longer need to physically receive and handle hundreds of thousands of H-1B petitions and supporting documentation before conducting the cap selection process. This would help reduce wait times for cap selection notifications. The proposed rule also limits the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions to the beneficiary named on the original selected registration, which would protect the integrity of this registration system.

On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, instructing DHS to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of our immigration system.” The EO specifically mentioned the H-1B program and directed DHS and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”

Additional information on the proposed rule is available in the Federal Register. Public comments may be submitted starting Monday, December 3, when the proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register, and must be received on or before January 2, 2019.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Announces Minority Business Development Agency Grant Awards

Minority Business Development Agency Issuing $13 Million in Grants through Broad Agency Announcement

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the Department of Commerce awarded over $13 million to 35 projects in communities across the country. The grants, which are part of MBDA’s new Broad Agency Announcement initiative, reflect critical Department of Commerce priorities including space commerce, aquaculture, disaster relief, and entrepreneurship efforts.

“Under the guidance of President Trump, American businesses have reached unparalleled heights,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These grant awards will help ensure that all Americans across the spectrum continue to reap the benefits of our thriving economy.”

“Minority business enterprises each have a unique and critical role to play in the national economy as well as in countless local communities nationwide,” said MBDA National Director Henry Childs, II. “Through these grant awards, we are directly impacting those who MBDA was created to serve.”

The Minority Business Development Agency is expanding its former use of the Broad Agency Announcement approach to fund projects in these Departmental priority areas that, in turn, promote and ensure the inclusion and use of minority enterprises. Businesses, nonprofits, state and local governments, Indian Tribal governments, as well as educational institutions were all eligible to receive awards.

As a result, the projects that received funding were geographically and commercially diverse. Organizations such as the United States Space Foundation , Howard University, the Asociación Productos de Puerto Rico, and the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce were all grant recipients.

The Minority Business Development Agency’s mission is to link minority-owned businesses with the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow. Serving as subject matter experts and advocates for the minority business community, they conduct high quality research and help minority-owned businesses cultivate domestic and international relationships. MBDA is the only Federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America.

Upcoming Event: Discover Global Markets

Indo-Pacific
Opportunities at the Convergence of Aerospace + Defense + Security
Dec. 10-12, 2018 | Salt Lake City, UT

About Discover Global Markets

Discover Global Markets is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s flagship event series for U.S. exporters.

In just a few days, attendees will uncover new exporting opportunities, learn from seasoned exporters, and connect with hundreds of networking contacts.

Sign up for e-mail updates to learn about upcoming events in the Discover Global Markets series.

At Each Discover Global Markets Conference, you will:

  • Meet one-on-one with U.S. Commercial Diplomats visiting from abroad
  • Participate in panel discussions on the latest industry trends
  • Identify new and emerging markets of opportunity ahead of your competition
  • Learn about U.S. export programs designed to cut your time to market
  • Network with U.S. trade officials, leading private sector experts and like-minded U.S. businesses active in overseas markets

Upcoming: 2018 Miss Asia International Pageant Final – Los Angeles

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles
506 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
December 8, 2018.
3:00PM – 7:00PM

2018 Miss Asian International Pageant

2018 Miss Asian International Pageant USA Final sponsored by the American International Chamber of Commerce will be held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles at 1:30PM on December 8, 2018.

Entering the Miss Asia International Beauty Pageant can be a very fun and fulfilling experience. This year’s contestants will compete for an amazing array of prizes, including photo shoot packages, scholarships, opportunites in the entertainment industry in modeling and acting, and the prestige of a year-long reign as the title holder of the premier pageants.

In addition to the prizes, contestants will receive various benefits from the sponsors as well as a myriad of opportunities to attend high profile red carpet events in Los Angels, New York, and China, fashions shows, and fundraisers in support of noble charitable organizations. Each contestant will represent their ancestral country in order to promote their culture, tourism and strengthen our bonds though a unity of diversity.

Tickets and RSVP
Phone: 626-675-4918
Miss Asia International Pageant Committee Los Angeles

Upcoming: 2018 Miss Asia International Pageant China Final in Beijing

Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing Lido
6 Jiangtai Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, 100016, China
Nov 11th,2018
1:00PM

2018 Miss Asia International Pageant China Final in Beijing

American International Chamber of Commerce ( AICC) will host the 2018 Miss Asia International Pageant China Final in Beijing.

RSVP
Phone: + 8610-8532 4980
Miss Asia International Pageant Committee China

Upcoming Event: 4th Annual Consul Generals Dinner

DATE AND TIME
Tue, May 8, 2018
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

LOCATION
City Club Los Angeles
555 South Flower Street., Fl. 51
Los Angeles, CA 90071

City Club LA Organizer of 4th Annual Consul Generals Dinner

Founded in 1989, City Club Los Angeles is L.A.’s premiere private business club in downtown Los Angeles, on the penthouse floor of City National Tower, with an emphasis on inclusiveness. The vibrant atmosphere of the Members-Only Club, exquisite cuisine and spectacular views provide the perfect private club for business and social entertaining.

Members include local business professionals, civic and community leaders and other influential leaders of Los Angeles. City Club Members have access to a network of more than 200 private golf and country clubs, business clubs and resorts.

Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) Updated in the Automated Export System (AES)

The Schedule B, Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), and HTS Codes That Are Not Valid for AES tables have been updated to reflect the changes to the 2018 codes effective January 1st, 2018.

AES will accept shipments with outdated 2017 codes during a grace period for 30 days beyond the expiration date of December 31st, 2017. Reporting an outdated 2017 code after the 30-day grace period will result in a fatal error.

The ACE AESDirect program has been updated with the 2018 codes and will accept shipments with outdated 2017 codes during the grace period as well.

The 2018 Schedule B and HTS tables are available for downloading at:

http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/aes/documentlibrary/#concordance

The current list of HTS codes that are not valid for AES are available at:

http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/aes/documentlibrary/concordance/hts-not-for-aes.html

For further information or questions, contact the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Trade Indicator Micro Analysis Branch.

Telephone: (800) 549-0595, select option 2 for International Trade Indicator Micro Analysis Branch

Website: www.census.gov/trade