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.

Upcoming Event: Virtual Education Fair Schedule

In 2018 the U.S. Commercial Service will host Virtual Education Fairs in several international markets to provide a venue for U.S. institutions to present their schools to the most reputable and best performing agents in those nations.

Using web conferencing technology, your school will have the opportunity to conduct a 10 minute presentation via PowerPoint to an audience of at least 10 top agents from the targeted country.

Each Virtual Education Fair is limited to six appropriately accredited U.S. private high schools, boarding schools and 4-year colleges and universities.

Don’t miss these opportunities to connect with international education agents and recruiters from the comfort of your office!

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

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).

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.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Proposes U.S. Airlines and Cities for New Scheduled Service to Havana

WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s historic effort to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today proposed to select eight U.S. airlines to begin scheduled flights between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana as early as this fall. Today’s proposal comes nearly one year after the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations in July 2015.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

A dozen U.S. airlines applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana. Collectively, the airlines applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments. The Department’s principal objective in making its proposed selections was to maximize public benefits, including choosing airlines that offered and could maintain the best ongoing service between the U.S. and Havana.

The airlines receiving the tentative awards are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines. 

DOT’s proposal allocates nonstop Havana service to areas of substantial Cuban-American population, as well as to important aviation hub cities. 

The Department’s process of selecting carriers offers an opportunity to present the public with a wide array of travel choices in the type of airline (network, low-cost, ultra-low-cost); choices of airport; and choices of non-stop or connecting service. The DOT’s proposed selections would simultaneously address service needs while promoting competition.

On February 16, 2016, Secretary Foxx and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin signed an arrangement with their Cuban counterparts opening the way for scheduled air service between the two countries to resume after more than 50 years. This new arrangement will facilitate visits for travelers that fall under one of 12 categories authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. At the time of the signing, the administration announced that scheduled service would begin later in 2016.

Under the arrangement, each country may operate up to 20 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and Havana. The arrangement also provides each country with the opportunity to operate up to 10 daily roundtrip flights between the U.S. and each of Cuba’s nine international airports, other than Havana, for a total of 90 daily roundtrips. DOT announced the approval of six U.S. airlines’ applications to serve cities other than Havana on June 10.

Objections to the DOT’s tentative decision are due by July 22. If objections are filed, answers to objections will be due by July 29. The DOT expects to reach a final decision later this summer. The tentative decision and other documents in the case are available online at regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0021.

Cultural Summer Camp for Adolescent

AICC Summer Camp 16 Day

AICC has been dedicated to promoting the U.S.- China educational exchange and supporting Chinese students to attend the summer camps held in the U.S. This Cultural Summer Camp is one of the summer camp events organized and promoted by AICC. We believe that your teachers and students will gain invaluable knowledge and experience with American education, culture, art and society by attending this unique Cultural Summer Camp. You will make friends with American teachers and students, visit museum and schools, and spend a very happy time. It will be an unforgettable memory in your life.

August 1 to 14, 2016
August 12 to 28, 2016
16 Day
Beijing- Los Angeles – New York-Beijing

Day Morning Schedule Touring Spot Accommodation
1 Beijing – Los Angeles East Los Angeles Collage Holiday Inn Pasadena-Colorado Blvd.
2 Universal Studios Universal Studios Holiday Inn Pasadena-Colorado Blvd.
3 Disneyland Disneyland Holiday Inn Pasadena-Colorado Blvd.
4 Los Angeles – New York   Columbia University
5 ELA Lesson: Team Up to Explore

Science Lesson: Types of Ecosystems

New York Aquarium Columbia University
6 ELA Lesson: Dynamic Earth

Science Lesson: Living Things of the

Past

American Museum of Natural History Columbia University
7 ELA Lesson: Wonders in the Sky

Science Lesson: The Solar System

Hayden Planetarium Columbia University
8 ELA Lesson: Flight

Science Lesson: Exploring Forces

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Columbia University
9 ELA Lesson: Investigations

Science Lesson: Animals Grow and

Change

Bronx Zoo Columbia University
10 ELA Lesson: Inventions

Science Lesson: Elements and

Compounds

Madame Tussaud

Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Columbia University
11 A Primary School in New York, Tongmei’s Sister School   Columbia University
12 Macy’s Macy’s Columbia University
13 ELA Lesson: Using Money

Science Lesson: Chemical Changes

Fifth Avenue

Empire State Building

Times Square

Wall Street

New York Stock Exchange

Columbia University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 ELA Lesson: Literary Lesson

Science Lesson: Saving Resources

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York Public Library

Columbia University
15 ELA Lesson: Our Government

Science Lesson: Exploring Energy

Federal Hall National Memorial Columbia University
16 New York – Beijing  

AICC
Los Angeles: 213-255-2066
Beijing: 010-6708-3166
Emial: usa@aiccus.org