Passport App to Expedite Arrival of International Travelers at LAX

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) announced today the expansion of Mobile Passport Control (MPC) to LAX. With the addition of LAX, Mobile Passport Control is now available to U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors arriving at 23 major international airports. The Mobile Passport app has been downloaded 1 million times over the last two years.

Mobile Passport is the first authorized app to expedite a traveler’s arrival into the United States. Eligible travelers may voluntarily submit their passport information and answers to inspection-related questions to CBP via a smartphone or tablet app prior to arrival. Android and iPhone users can download the Mobile Passport app for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

“CBP is committed to improving the international travel experience by offering new and innovative technology to streamline the arrival process,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “Through our partnership with Los Angeles World Airports, travelers arriving at LAX will have another processing option to use that has been proven to reduce wait times without compromising our important border security mission.”

MPC currently offers U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors a more efficient in-person inspection between the CBP officer and the traveler upon arrival in the United States. Much like Automated Passport Control (APC) the app does not require pre-approval and is free to use. Travelers who successfully use the app will no longer have to complete a paper form or use an APC kiosk. As a result, travelers will experience shorter wait times, less congestion and faster processing.

“At Los Angeles World Airports, one of our strategic goals is to innovate for security, efficiency, and effectiveness, and the Mobile Passport Control app is a prime example of how we do this,” said Aura Moore, LAWA Deputy Executive Director and Chief Information Officer. “The introduction of the MPC app at LAX is another milestone in our work to enhance the guest experience and deliver a gold-standard airport, without compromising on safety or security. And thanks to the twelve new Wi-Fi access points we’ve installed in the customs area, travelers can be assured the infrastructure is in place to support this new tool.”

The process is efficient and secure, the information and answers to inspection-related questions are submitted directly to CBP via secure encryption protocols. The App streamlines the traveler inspection process and enables CBP officers to focus more on the inspection and less on administrative functions.

Information about Mobile Passport Control, including how to download the app, user eligibility and other frequently asked questions, is available on CBP.gov.
CBP’s website offers rules and tips for clearing CBP inspection during travel to and from the United States.

By CBP: September 21, 2017

U.S. Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

U.S. Census Bureau Graphic on Asian Population Percentage by State.

Today marks the beginning of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month. In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.

In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

In honor of Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the U.S. Census Bureau compiled a wide-range of demographic and economic statistics on our nation’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations.

Asian

21.0 million
The estimated number of Asian alone or in combination residents in the United States in 2015.

$76,260
The median income of households headed by the Asian alone or in combination population in 2015.

1.9 million
The estimated number of Asian-owned firms nationally in 2012, up from 1.5 million or 23.8 percent from 2007.

51.5%
The percentage of the Asian alone or in combination population age 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education in 2015.

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population

1.5 million
The estimated number of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination residents of the United States in 2015.

$60,133
The median income of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination headed households in 2015.

54,749
The estimated number of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms in 2012. The estimated number rose 45.3 percent from 37,687 in 2007.

88.8%
The percentage of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination population age 25 and older with at least a high school diploma or equivalency in 2015.

For more key economic and demographic statistics, please see the U.S. Census Bureau’s Facts for Features: Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2017.

USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2018 cap on April 3, 2017. All cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.

Congress set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met.

USCIS recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. While premium processing is suspended any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition will be rejected. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.

H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. The filing fee for Form I-129 has increased to $460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonored payment. If any fee payments are not honored by the bank or financial institution, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition without the option for the petitioner to correct it.

Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings (PDF, 278 KB), provides detailed information on how to complete and submit an FY 2018 H-1B petition.

For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and current Form I-129 processing times, visit the H-1B FY 2018 Cap Season Web page or call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired). To subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates go to the H1B FY 2018 Cap Season Web page.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook(/uscis).

Statement from the Department of Commerce on the President’s America First Budget Blueprint

The President’s America First Budget Blueprint begins the important task of streamlining government and making it more efficient. It does this while protecting the Department of Commerce’s core missions and directing tax dollars to where the federal government can have the most impact for all Americans.

The Blueprint prioritizes and protects investments that put America first. 
To that end, it strengthens the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) trade enforcement and compliance functions, including the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty investigations, while rescaling the agency’s export promotion and trade analysis activities. It increases funding for the U.S. Census Bureau to continue preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census, and brings private-sector sensibility to our major capital expenditures.

Starting with the America First Budget Blueprint released today, the Administration will be able to fulfill the key priorities of maintaining our national security, spurring job growth, and creating opportunity for all Americans. The Department looks forward to working with its partners across the government to further realize these goals.

USPTO Attachés: A Valuable Resource for U.S. Intellectual Property Interests Abroad

U.S. companies may understand how to handle their intellectual property (IP) interests within the United States, but selling products and being competitive in foreign markets with varied and unfamiliar local IP laws is a different ball game. Independent inventors and small and medium-sized entities may lack the in-house resources and expertise they need to deal with foreign IP regulations.

And today, looking after those IP assets is more important than ever: according to a recent estimate from the International Chamber of Commerce, the global value of counterfeit and pirated products could be as high as $1.8 trillion a year. This represents a huge loss of revenue.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) IP Attaché Program supports U.S. stakeholders that sell in foreign markets or want to enter them. These attachés are IP experts stationed at select U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, working directly with U.S. businesses on intellectual property issues—including helping to stop counterfeiting and piracy—while supporting U.S. efforts to improve IP laws internationally.

In addition, the attachés advocate for U.S. IP policies; coordinate training on IP protection matters; and work with judicial, administrative, legislative, and enforcement officers to assist U.S. businesses that own or use IP. Currently, the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program has 14 positions around the world.
Recently, one industry-leading furniture manufacturer from Tennessee with production capability in China learned the value of the assistance that the USPTO’s IP attachés can provide. The company ran into difficulties when one of its former original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) obtained 13 Chinese design patents and used them to block the company’s other OEMs from manufacturing and exporting products. Our IP attaché in Guangzhou met with the company’s CEO and provided information and guidance on patent invalidation proceedings and how to navigate China’s IP judicial system, and offered suggestions on working with local customs and government authorities. One week after the meeting, three containers of furniture were released for export by Chinese customs officers, and $3.5 million in orders were fulfilled.

Companies can also face dangers abroad even where their operations are exclusively domestic. For example Mabrey Products—a small U.S. company based in Chico, California, that designs and manufactures wooden urns for funeral homes—made the surprising discovery last year at a trade show in the United States that a Chinese vendor was displaying urns that were direct copies of Mabrey’s product line. The company’s owner turned to one of our IP attachés stationed in China, who was able to provide guidance on how the company could protect its IP against this Chinese vendor and other infringers.

Now, other countries and markets may operate differently, each having its own—and sometimes quite distinct—set of rules and regulations regarding IP. But these examples show that the USPTO’s IP Attaché Program is working throughout the world to help U.S. businesses and stakeholders. To find out more about the program and how it can help you, visit the IP Attaché Program page of the USPTO website. Additional information on how to protect or use IP abroad, including links to IP Toolkits for more than 20 countries and regions, can be found on the USPTO website.

U.S. Department of Commerce Report Shows Business Case for Apprenticeships

Nov 16, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the release of a Department of Commerce report, “The Benefits and Costs of Apprenticeships: A Business Perspective.” This report, authored by the Economics and Statistics Administration in partnership with Case Western Reserve University, is among the first of its kind in the U.S. that captures the employer perspective on the value of the apprenticeship model.

As part of President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of registered apprenticeships in the U.S. by the end of 2018, this report provides companies with hard data and compelling case studies to make the business case for the expansion of apprenticeship models within their own organizations.

“Through our Skills for Business agenda, the Department of Commerce has strongly supported the Obama Administration’s efforts to prepare America’s workers for the in-demand jobs of the 21st century. Expanding apprenticeships has been a significant part of our efforts,” said Secretary Pritzker. “This first-of-its kind report clearly demonstrates the value apprenticeships deliver to companies by helping fill jobs left empty, creating a more productive work force, reducing turnover and lowering recruiting costs. The earn-and-learn model is one that we can and should continue to expand across a more diversified set of industries to help meet the challenges faced by America’s workers and employers.”  

This report contains findings from 13 case studies of businesses and intermediaries that have experience and success in implementing registered apprenticeships. The programs varied in structure and cost from company to company, but all found that an investment in apprenticeship pays off. 

Key Findings Include

Across industries from manufacturing to construction, healthcare, retail, and IT, the single most common benefit of apprenticeships was filling jobs that otherwise sat vacant. 

Apprenticeships broadened companies’ recruiting pool by opening doors to less-skilled candidates from more diverse backgrounds who would otherwise not be recruited.

Internal production data from two companies helped put a dollar value on some of the benefits:

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that its Medical Assistant apprenticeship program nearly paid for itself within the first year.

The program had an internal rate of return of 40 percent compared to using overtime with existing medical staff, and it was essential to a major expansion and re-organization of its provision of medical services.  

Reducing the long-term use of overtime also helped relieve staff burnout and turnover, while quality of care remained high after the MA apprentices were introduced.

Siemens USA obtains at least a 50 percent rate of return on its apprenticeship program, compared to hiring machinists off the street.

Most of the gains stem from how apprenticeship allows Siemens to more flexibly fill its capacity in Charlotte, NC, which makes generators for electric utilities. Apprentice grads’ flexibility helps the plant make full use of spare capacity, when available, such that the plant can seek and take generator repair work.

Siemens’ apprentice graduates are well suited for tasks like repair work, which involve more judgment than standard projects. One year of this additional capacity is worth an amount similar to the cost of a worker’s apprenticeship program. 

Apprentices also were more likely to finish their work on time, and were slightly more productive, compared to machinists hired off the street.

Costs for firms varied widely, from less than $25,000 to $250,000 per apprentice, and benefits were diverse, but the companies studied were unanimous and enthusiastic in finding the benefits to outweigh the costs and their commitments.

Surprisingly few companies calculated an internal return on investment (ROI) for their apprenticeship programs.  

Because there is little guidance on how to capture the return on investment and few firms explicitly collect the data to do so, this report provides a roadmap to help employers measure the costs and benefits of apprenticeships. 

The full report is available here: http://www.esa.gov/reports/benefits-and-costs-apprenticeships-business-perspective

Starting Nov. 1, U.S. passport photos with glasses no longeracceptable

Beginning November 1st, 2016, customers applying for their U.S. passport or U.S visa or renewing their U.S. passport must remove glasses for their photo.

Last year, more than 200,000 U.S. passport customers submitted poor quality photos which we couldn’t accept. The #1 problem was glasses. We had to put their passport applications on hold because we couldn’t clearly identify them from their photo. Many U.S. visa applications have been delayed due to the same problem.

If the photo of you in your unexpired U.S. passport or U.S. visa has glasses, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to get a passport or visa now. Next time you renew your passport or apply for a new visa, though, you’ll have to take your glasses off.

This policy change helps us and it helps you. We can see you more clearly now and you will experience fewer U.S. passport and U.S. visa application delays and can move faster through U.S. ports of entry. Don’t get us wrong, we love your glasses, but take them off for your U.S. passport or U.S. visa photo.*

For more information on photos, check out our passport photo requirements and photo examples or visa photo requirements and photo examples.

*If you must wear eye glasses for medical reasons, you’ll need to obtain and submit a signed statement with your U.S. passport or U.S. visa application from a medical professional or health practitioner.