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USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017 Beginning April 1, 2016

USCIS Will Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017 Beginning April 1, 2016

Posted on 18 March 2016 by admin

Visa (1)

USCIS Reminds Petitioners to Follow Regulatory Requirements

 WASHINGTON – On April 1, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2017 cap. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.

The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2017 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.

USCIS expects to receive more than 65,000 petitions during the first five business days of this year’s program. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a computer-generated lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed.

Premium Processing for Cap-Subject Petitions

H-1B petitioners may still continue to request premium processing together with their H-1B petition. However, please note that USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice based on historic premium processing receipt levels and the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first five business days of the filing season. In order to prioritize data entry for cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing no later than May 16, 2016.

Filing Petitions

H-1B petitioners are reminded that when the temporary employment or training will be in different locations, the state where your company or organization’s primary office is located will determine where you should send your Form I-129 package, regardless of where in the United States the various worksites are located. Please ensure that when temporary employment or training will be in different locations, the address on page 1, part 1 of Form I-129 is for your organization’s primary office. Please note that when listing a “home office” as a work site location on Part 5, question 3, USCIS will consider this a separate and distinct work site location.

 

H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions in order to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. USCIS has developed detailed information, including an optional checklist, Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings, on how to complete and submit an FY 2017 H-1B petition. The optional checklist for FY 2017 will be available within the next week.

Cases will be considered accepted on the date USCIS receives a properly filed petition with the appropriate fees.

For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and current Form I-129 processing times, visit the H-1B FY 2017 Cap Season Web page or call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired). We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B FY 2017 Cap Season Web page.

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

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Oromo Protest in Seattle!

Oromo Protest in Seattle!

Posted on 30 December 2015 by admin

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Hundreds of the Oromo community in Seattle came together on Tuesday to protest against the killing the innocent Students and farmers by the Ethiopian government troops in their own country. The protest which started at E. Yesler and the 20th Ave and which was led by Seattle Police on motorcycles ended at the Federal Building in Down Town Seattle.

There have been resistance again the Ethiopian government plan that would displace thousands of the Oromo people for expansion of the capital Addis Ababa. Some activists accuse the government of land grabbing without giving compensation to the poor farmers. On the other hand, students protesting the injustices in colleges were also targeted by the Ethiopian forces. There has been death reported in the clashes between the government troops on one side, and farmers and students on the other side.

Habtamu Abdi who is an active member of the Oromo/Ethiopian community in Seattle says in a comment he posted on facebook today “124 students have been killed in the past three weeks alone”. There is no solution is in sight and the violent is likely to continue unless AU troops intervene the matter. Ethiopia is experiencing political unrest while the country’s economy is improving and ranked one of the fastest growing countries in Africa. The protesters Seattle were demanding the halt of US financial aid to the Addis Regime.

Ethiopian troops who mainly consist of Tigray clan are accused of human rights violations in the past. They brutally oppressed in the past the Ogaden people who were accused as sympathizers to ONLF, a resistance movement who has many decades been fighting independency for the east part of Ethiopia which is predominantly inhabited by Somali ethnic.

Now that Oromo, the largest ethnic group of Ethiopia, is awakened by the new situation their people are facing, it is a matter of time when the regime collapses. If that does not happen, then the Ethiopian unity is in jeopardy when the majority of Oromos have been demanding in many decades an independent state for their people, a state which they already been calling “Oromia” and has its own flag. It is believed that Ethiopia’s name brand will not last long unless the power shifts to the hands of Oromo and Somalis who have huge stake in Ethiopia in terms of population and land.

Oromo people are estimated to range half of the country’s population, and Somalis control or inhabit one third of the county’s territory. If both form an alliance, they will definitely rule the country or simply split form it. The US aid to Ethiopia is almost a billion Dollar. The question is “is the regime smart enough to use that money to hold the country together or it will continue using military means which has already cost it huge diplomatic consequences?” Time will tell as the history unfolds itself. protest-2

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Mayors urge federal action on Somali remittances

Mayors urge federal action on Somali remittances

Posted on 22 June 2015 by admin

Ed Murray 2 (640x355)

SEATTLE (June 22, 2015) – Today in San Francisco, the nation’s mayors called on the federal government to find a workable solution that allows Somali families living in the United States to once again send money to friends and relatives still living in the Horn of Africa.

In February, the Merchants Bank of California closed down all accounts of Somali-American Money Transfer Operators due to the increasing difficulty of complying with federal money laundering and terrorism financing regulations. That action has created new hardships for thousands of families in Somalia already struggling to meet their basic needs.

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was sponsored by Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle and Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis. Minneapolis and Seattle are home to the largest and second-largest Somali immigrant communities in the United States.

“Like many immigrants, Somali-American families want to send financial support to their loved ones back home,” Murray said. “These refugees who have found a better life in the United States are doing what any of us would do for their family members. The federal government must find a path forward to allow these remittances to continue.”

“Minneapolis is proud to be home to such a large and vibrant Somali community,” said Minneapolis Mayor, Betsy Hodges. “Their ability to send money home provides loved ones in Somalia with a critical lifeline that we must protect. Cash in suitcases in not a solution. I’m strongly requesting that banks work with Somali money wiring agencies so that hard-working residents of Minneapolis can help support their families.”

More than two million people in Somalia are dependent on financial assistance overseas. Somalia receives approximately $1.3 billion in remittances each year. Funding from these accounts had provided for food, water, shelter and education. The effects of these account closures have been exacerbated due to Somali’s lack of a functioning commercial banking system.

“In Somalia, where only one out of every three people has access to safe drinking water, money transfers from the U.S. and around the world comprise the single largest sector of the country’s economy,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “These funds help Somalis meet their most basic needs. The U.S. government must pay urgent attention to hard-working Somali-Americans who are struggling to support their loved ones.”

The U.S. Departments of State and Treasury have yet to develop a system that would help local banks meet regulatory standards and allow financial aid to keep making its way to Somalia, while still ensuring the security of the United States. Last month in Seattle, Mayor Murray met with Secretary of State John Kerry to urge action on Somali remittances.

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After Barren Years in Somalia, Signs of Growth by the Bunch

After Barren Years in Somalia, Signs of Growth by the Bunch

Posted on 16 December 2014 by admin

By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSHDEC. 13, 2014

Photo by Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

 FGOOYE, Somalia — Armed with machetes, the men push their way through the densely packed rows of trees, emerging every few minutes with large bundles of green bananas over their shoulders. A guard, his chest crossed with bullet belts, his hands cradling a Russian-made rifle, scans the tree line for intruders as the men throw the bananas on a trailer before dashing back into the plantation for another load.

When the trailer is piled high with bananas, it is pulled by tractor to a nearby warehouse, where the fruit is sorted and boxed for transport to destinations across Somalia and as far away as the Middle East.

After years of warfare that decimated an industry that was once the largest in Africa, the banana is making a tentative comeback in Somalia. Farms are stepping up production and eyeing overseas markets that have been dormant for years.

“Last April we exported to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 23 years,” said Kamal Haji Nasir, 30, whose father, owns this plantation in Afgooye, a town on the Shebelle River, about 45 minutes’ drive from Mogadishu. “We are excited and hopeful.”

For more than two decades, Somalia was the epitome of a failed state — a country rife with war, anarchy, famine, piracy and terrorism. Many of those problems persist — there has been a recent surge in attacks by Shabab militants, the government is riven with infighting and the United Nations has been warning of a growing risk of famine — but the country has nonetheless made some progress in the past few years.

Somalia elected a new president and adopted a constitution in 2012, bringing some stability, and attracting pledges of aid from international donors. Somali pirates, who once threatened international shipping in the Indian Ocean, have largely been contained and the Shabab have lost their grip over many towns.

“By any measure, Somalia today is in a better situation than it has been for the past 23 years,” said Nicholas Kay, the United Nations’ special representative for Somalia.

That stability has allowed farmers like Mr. Nasir, who studied agriculture at Mogadishu University, to return to a business that has been in his family for four generations.

Banana farming was brought to the fertile Shebelle and Juba river basins in the southern part of the country by Italian colonists in the 1920s. Soon, bananas became a major staple of Somali cuisine, consumed with rice or pasta, or just as a fruit, and farmers began exporting to Italy and the Middle East. With investment by Italian and American fruit companies, the banana trade reached its peak in the 1980s, led by the brand Somalita, which was partly owned by De Nadai, an Italian company. In 1990, Somalia’s banana exports were worth $96 million, according to Mohamood Abdi Noor, a former World Bank agricultural expert.

“The industry was doing very well and moving forward,” said Hasan Haji Osman, an agricultural consultant, who previously worked for Italian and Somali fruit companies.

That all came to a halt when civil war broke out in 1991. The government collapsed, and Somalia became a battleground in which warlords and Islamic extremists vied for control and pirates became the scourge of the surrounding seas. In what became known as “the banana wars,” rival warlords fought to control exports of the fruit as a source of hard currency. The once-thriving banana industry fell apart. Irrigation systems were damaged, plantations were abandoned, farmers were displaced, and storage facilities and ports were destroyed.

Mr. Osman shook his head sadly as he recalled farms lying damaged and unattended.

“What was in my head were the banana farms with no workers” and with destroyed irrigation systems, he said. “I was thinking about that more than my family.”

For those who continued to farm, the breakdown of supply chains and transport links proved to be disastrous. “There were no markets for our bananas,” said Abu Bakr Hirabe, 70, who has been farming bananas in Afgooye for decades. “We lost a lot of money.”

As the security situation began improving a few years ago, Mr. Hirabe, along with other banana farmers, set about trying to rebuild the industry. They repaired irrigation systems, hired workers and security guards and set their sights on markets overseas. In 2011 they established a company, FruitSome, to market and export their bananas.

Mr. Hirabe said FruitSome had contacted Del Monte, Dole and fruit companies in the Middle East, but the response so far has been mixed.

The bananas harvested in Afgooye are sent to destinations as far away as the Middle East. Credit: Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Dole, which has in the past invested there, said it was cautious about committing to Somalia.

“The Somali banana industry has potential,” Xavier Roussel, the marketing and communication director at Dole Fresh Fruit Europe in Hamburg, Germany, said in an email. But, he added, “right now it seems difficult to develop any agriculture program in Somalia because of the local situation.”

The banana farmers, however, have had some success connecting with regional buyers, with some help from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The F.A.O. helped organize a conference in Dubai this year at which Somali businesses exhibited their goods to an international audience for the first time in years. FruitSome had its bananas on display.

“We let them taste them and they were surprised,” said Omar Farah, a FruitSome representative. “Some asked us, ‘How can we order this?’ ”

Since then, FruitSome has exported five containers to the Middle East and hopes that some of the contacts forged at the conference will yield further gains.

Somali bananas, experts say, have several advantages that make them marketable, including easy and short access to seaports from farms and proximity to markets in the Middle East.

And, aficionados say, they taste great.

“Sweet, slightly sour, creamy vanilla,” is how Edward Baars, an agricultural engineer with Cgiar, a group of research organizations, described their taste. “The quality of Somali bananas is near unmatched in taste and texture, which is due to the unique growing conditions.”

Despite that, experts say that considerable issues need to be addressed before Somalia can once again become a leading banana exporter. Mr. Noor said that irrigation and drainage systems, roads and storage facilities all needed to be improved, as did quality control and packaging. And, he added, security was still an issue.

Jose Lopez of the Food and Agriculture Organization said the country needed to attract more private investment to rebuild the industry.

Mr. Farah of FruitSome, however, said he was optimistic about the future.

“When you try a Somali banana,” he said, “you can tell the difference.”

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ARI Project 13

Young East Africans Aim High with ARI

Posted on 03 December 2014 by admin

Runta- Seattle

Recovery through Journalism has received wide support among the East African Community in Seattle. Under the newly established nonprofit called “Awareness and Recovery Institute (ARI)”, the project trained 8 East African Youth, the majority of whom are Somalis. During the training, the youth participated in reading, writing, computer aided reporting, and photography workshops. Soon after the training, the youth started practicing what they had learned.  In accordance with the project plan, the students are now providing photographs and some short writing to the East African newspaper, Runta,ARI Project 14

Recovery through Journalism has received wide support among the East African Community in Seattle. Under the newly established nonprofit called “Awareness and Recovery Institute (ARI)”, the project trained 8 East African Youth, the majority of whom are Somalis. During the training, the youth participated in reading, writing, computer aided reporting, and photography workshops. Soon after the training, the youth started practicing what they had learned.  In accordance with the project plan, the students are now providing photographs and some short writing to the East African newspaper, Runta,

ARI Project 13

 

Thanks to the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund which funded the project, the students had the opportunity to visit many places including the Seattle Times, University of Washington, Sports events, community events, and many other places.

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Jubbaland, IGAD and the Way Forward

Jubbaland, IGAD and the Way Forward

Posted on 27 May 2013 by admin

Jubbaland

By Duniya Lang

 The Jubbaland Government, led by president Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, must not initiate any form of dialogue with a

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Gun Buyback Program Passes $100,000 Mark as More Community Partners and Sponsors Join Effort

Gun Buyback Program Passes $100,000 Mark as More Community Partners and Sponsors Join Effort

Posted on 09 January 2013 by admin

Growing momentum, resources to help individuals turn in firearms, engage with Continue Reading

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WASITRAC holds memorial service for “Nirbhaya”, the New Delhi gang rape victim in Seattle

WASITRAC holds memorial service for “Nirbhaya”, the New Delhi gang rape victim in Seattle

Posted on 08 January 2013 by admin

Press- Release

Members from different ethnic groups, media and works of life poured in to Continue Reading

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City of Seattle Invests in Urban Agriculture Projects in 2013

City of Seattle Invests in Urban Agriculture Projects in 2013

Posted on 19 December 2012 by admin

 

SEATTLE – Mayor McGinn announced today the creation of additional space for community
gardening and urban agriculture in the city. Continue Reading

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12 arts and humanities programs honored at the White House

12 arts and humanities programs honored at the White House

Posted on 04 December 2012 by admin

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) First Lady Michelle Obama invited 12 young people to the White House, where they were presented with the 2012 Continue Reading

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