Premium processing of US H-1B visas resumes

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommenced processing H-1B visas five months after it had suspended the services temporarily to manage the rush of new petitions. The premium processing of the H-1B work visas will be in all categories but subject to the limit set by the Congress.

The upper limit set for FY 2018 is 65,000 H-1B visas. In addition, work has also begun on the annual 20,000 petitions to hire employees with a US higher educational degree. This service is only available for the pending request and not new submissions.

USCIS takes 15 days to clear the visa under premium processing. According to the Times of India, “If the 15-calendar day processing time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application,” the USCIS said.

The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows US companies to employ foreign workers possessing theoretical or technical expertise in speciality occupations. The visa is popular among the Indian IT professionals as technology companies use it to hire employees each year.

Sources: NDTV, TOI

White House rejects reports of US staying in Paris Climate Accord

The White House has denied the claims made by EU officials that US has agreed to stay in the Paris Climate Accord, stating that its position remains unchanged until it gets more favourable terms. This statement comes after ministers from 30 countries gathered at Montreal ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November.

The report that appeared on Wall Street Journal, mentioned European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete as saying that the US would not pull out of the Paris accord and review the terms of the deal.

However, according to the Guardian, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement. As the President has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country.”

In June, Trump called the climate pact a bad deal for US and declared about pulling out US from the Paris Accord, as per his campaign promise. This caused major uproar among the world leaders and the science community. 

Sources: The Guardian, CBS

Syria: U.S. backed Militias hit by Russian Strike

Syria is a battleground with corpses, blood and ruins for the eyes, as far as they can see.  For years we have seen horrifying images from the civil war, sprouted as an uprising and turned into a full-scale conflict. A Russian strike wounded members of the US backed militias in Syria on Saturday from Russian jets. Six of its fighters were wounded in the strike, The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Khurdish and Arab militia fighting with the U.S. led coalition said.

Russia bombed a position east of the Euphrates river where it knew SDF fighters and coalition advisers were stationed- said The Pentagon. However, the jets did not injure any coalition forces.

The SDF accused Damascus of trying to obstruct the fighters, and that “such attacks waste energies that should be used against terrorism… and open the door to side conflicts”, it said. The attacks by Russia backed Syrian army and U.S. supported SDF have at times raised fears of clashes, which may result into greater tension between the world powers. 

Russian military request to strike an area in the province of Deir Ezzor, as they were coalition advisers and US backed Syrian forces there. Bu the Russians decided to carry out the strike anyway.

Ahmed Abu Khawla, the commander of the SDF’s Deir al-Zor military council, said Russian or Syrian fighter jets flew in from government territory before dawn on Saturday. 

The warplanes struck as the SDF waged “heated and bloody battles” in the industrial zone on the eastern bank, seizing factories from Islamic State militants, he said. 

Both the U.S. led coalition and Russia are battling in ISIS in Syria, but they are on two very different sides of the civil war. The United States and its allies support some anti-government rebel groups in their fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And Russia backs his regime.

Sources: Reuters, CNN

Refugee ban granted by US Supreme Court

By the decision of lower court and the justice department, 24,000 additional refugees, who were granted an allowance to enter the US before October, were banned due to Supreme Court Justices grant on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. This was done on the basis of a request from the Trump administration block.

On March 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump had signed a revised order banning travelers and refugees from six Muslim majority countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for 90 days and 120 days respectively. Trump claimed that the reason for this ban was to prevent terrorists. Though there had been no definite information regarding the permanence or the expansion of the limit of the ban.

As the Lower Courts argued that this ban goes against the constitution and feudal immigration law, the High Court agreed to look into the matter, but did not came up with anything constructive. After the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, it has been decided that, people having authentic relationships with legal US residents or with entities in the US, will be exempted from the travel ban. But, nothing has been specified about the refugee allowance.

As reported by Reuters, senior director of campaigns, Naureen Shah of Amnesty International of USA said, “The Supreme Court today had dealt yet another devastating blow to vulnerable people who were on the cusp of obtaining safety for themselves and their families. They continue to be subjected to unimaginable violence and fear while their lives are in limbo.”

Sourced from Reuters and Al jazeera

 

U.S forces conducts airstrike, kill 11 Taliban insurgents

In the airstrike carried by US troops, at least eleven insurgents of Taliban have been killed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According the reports from the office of the provincial government media, the airstrike was carried out in the territory of Bati Kot district in which weapons belonging to the Taliban insurgents were also destroyed.  As reported by Khama press, the official statement quoted, “The militants were hanging out in the area when they were targeted, leaving eleven of them dead and one more wounded.” Taliban has not commented on the deaths so far.

Earlier on tuesday, airstrikes conducted by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar, in Haska Mina District, targeted the militants operating under the command of ISIS leader Tariq Afridi, killed at least fourteen militants affiliated with the ISIS-K.

Afghanistan is carrying out an Anti-ISIS as well as anti- Taliban operation with the prime objective of eradicating presence of ISIS affiliates in Nangarhar province and the U.S. forces are providing airstrikes support to the Afghan forces to achieve the targeted. After 9/11 attacks, it had been the principle objective of U.S policy ensure that the country does not become a haven  for radical anti-Western jihadi  terrorist groups.

 

Sources: ANI, Business Standard

Equifax says cybersecurity incident may have hit 143 million customers

Equifax, one of the big three US credit agency, has reported a cybersecurity incident that could potentially impact 143 million U.S. customers.

Equifax said that it discovered the unauthorized access at the end of the July and acted immediately to stop it. The Agency said that the unauthorized accesses took place from mid-May until July, and primarily involved information like names, address, birth dates, Social Security numbers and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. Furthermore, approximately 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed. The hackers gained the access to the Equifax’s system by exploiting a website application vulnerability. The company said that it has reported the criminal access to law enforcement.

According to Equifax, the agency is now working with state and federal authorities, and is alerting its customers whose information was included in the breach via email. Equifax said that it has set up a website – www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – that helps the consumers check if their data has been caught up in the breach.

 

Sources: BBC, ABC

Moody’s predict over 3% GDP growth of G20 countries and warns of geopolitical risks

In its latest report, Moody’s Investors Services forecast the G20 economic growth at over 3% for the current and the next year. In addition, it also warns of geopolitical risks, US protectionism and spill overs from monetary tightening and China’s deleveraging measures.

The ratings agency clarified that strong data in the first two quarters of the year prompted it to raise 2017 growth forecasts for China to 6.8 % from 6.6%; for South Korea to 2.8% from 2.5%; and for Japan to 1.5% from 1.1%.

In tandem, the agency expects acceleration in the Euro zone through the year based on strong sentiment indicators and has hence revised its forecasts to upwards for economies like Germany, France, and Italy.

However, the agency cut its forecast for the United States to 2.2% in 2017 and 2.3% in 2018, citing its weak first half performance and expectations of more modest fiscal incentive than earlier assumed.

According to the Reuters, the report stated, “The balance of risks is more favourable than it was at the beginning of the year. However, we note event risks related to conflicts in the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea, and the Middle East. The test firing of missiles by North Korea, intensification of aggressive rhetoric on both sides, and a hard-line stance from the Trump administration have raised the risk of a conflict in the Korean Peninsula.”

While labelling the wide-ranging measures of the Donald Trump administration to address bilateral trade issues as unfair trade practices, which could hurt the superpower’s growth, Moody’s warned China of its growing debt and lowered China’s ratings by one notch to A1 in May, saying the financial strength of the economy would erode in approaching years.

While forecasting for India, the agency slightly lowered the rate to 7.1% because of the government’s demonetization policy last year which led to several months of acute shortages for manufacturing and construction firms in particular; although it said it expects the impact to ease in coming months.

Sources: Reuters, The Hindu Business Line

Image source: BBC.com