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US Publishes strict guidelines for immigrants who come in as Sheep/Goat Herders

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today published a policy memorandum (PM) that requires requests for temporary foreign workers for range sheep or goat herding or production be subject to the same requirements as other temporary agricultural workers.

USCIS is issuing this PM to ensure that H-2A nonimmigrant sheep/goat herders may only fill temporary and/or seasonal herder positions, and that petitioners filing petitions for permanent sheep/goat herders comply with the requirements applicable to permanent positions.

Under the PM, H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions will be subject to the same temporary or seasonal need analysis that applies to all other H-2A petitions, and petitions seeking to hire H-2A sheep/goat herders for 364-day back-to-back periods (or similarly lengthy, consecutive periods for the same job duties for a sheep/goat herder position) with no material or meaningful break between them will not be approved if the petitioner cannot prove it has a temporary or seasonal need for the workers. This PM will ensure that USCIS consistently applies H-2A regulations on temporariness and seasonality to H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions, and that the wages and working conditions of similarly situated U.S. workers are not depressed by the employment of H-2A temporary workers.

This PM will assist in safeguarding the integrity of the H-2A program, which was intended for agricultural labor or services that are temporary or seasonal in nature. Adjudicating the temporariness and seasonality of H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions with the same criteria as other H-2A petitions will also support consistency and fairness while protecting the interests of U.S. workers (for example, their wages and job opportunities). The PM is not intended to alter current policy or practice for the adjudication of non-sheep herding or goat herding H-2A petitions, but to ensure that USCIS adjudicates all H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the facts presented, and in the same manner as all other H-2A petitions, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and existing regulations.

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Effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will adjudicate any Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, filed by petitioners seeking H-2A sheep/goat herder positions in line with this PM. USCIS believes the future effective date allows H-2A petitioners to amend their practices, as necessary.

This PM is being issued in response to a lawsuit brought by worker advocates challenging USCIS adjudications of H-2A sheep herding and goat herding petitions and the D.C. Circuit’s order in that case. Hispanic Affairs Project v. Acosta, 901 F.3d 378, 386 (D.C. Cir. 2018). USCIS agrees with the order and interprets the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion as indicating that consecutive, back-to-back 364-day approvals of H-2A sheep/goat herder petitions (or similarly lengthy, consecutive periods for the same job duties for a sheep/goat herder position) with no material or meaningful break between them would violate the INA and Department of Homeland Security regulations, absent a petitioner establishing that its need is in fact seasonal or temporary.

USCIS welcomes comments on the PM, the proposed effective date, potential cost savings or increases, impacts on filing practices, and other topics that are the focus of this PM via the Policy Memoranda for Comment page. USCIS will review and consider all comments received during the 30-day comment period from Nov. 14 to Dec. 14, 2019, and may subsequently publish a revised PM, as needed. The guidance contained in the PM will be controlling and will supersede any prior guidance regarding the determination of temporary or seasonal need for H-2A sheep and goat herder petitions.

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Diaspora

Kenyan passport still highly ranked amid Covid-19 pandemic

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The Kenyan passport has defied the Covid-19 pandemic to retain position 72 among the most powerful passports in the world, this according to a newly released Henley Passport Index.

The index, periodically measures the world’s most travel-friendly passports, based on the number of destinations their holders can access visa-free or visa-on-arrival.

VISA-FREE ACCESS

According to the latest index, the Japanese passport opens more doors than any other passport in the world.

The Japanese passport, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world, topped the rankings, followed by Singapore (190 destinations) while the South Korean passport tied with the German passport in third place with a score of 189.

The Kenyan passport, whose holder can access 71 destinations around the world without a visa or visa-on-arrival, is ranked at seventh in the continent, behind Seychelles (151 destinations), Mauritius (145), South Africa (101), Botswana (82), Namibia (75), Lesotho (74), and Swaziland (72).

The Kenyan passport also commands a relatively high score in comparison to those from other East African countries.

Amanda Smit, the Managing Partner and Head of South, East, and Central Africa at Henley, hailed the Kenyan passport’s resilience in retaining its position.

TEMPORARY BANS

“The much-considered destinations are the ones which have effectively handled the coronavirus outbreak, and especially those which have declared themselves virus-free. International airline travel is still on halt, but it is to be expected that more people will look at various destinations to settle as soon as airspace is open,” she said.

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Research using exclusive historical data from the index has revealed that there is a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, government integrity, and personal or political freedom.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

Henley & Partners said the recent ranking did not take temporary bans into account.

The best passports to hold in 2020:

1. Japan (191 destinations)

2. Singapore (190)

3. South Korea, Germany (189)

4. Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188)

5. Denmark, Austria (187)

6. Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland (186)

7. Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium (185)

8. Greece, New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic (184)

9. Canada, Australia (183)

10. Hungary (181)

The worst passports to hold:

103. North Korea (39 destinations)

104. Libya, Nepal, Palestinian Territory (38)

105. Somalia, Yemen (33)

106. Pakistan (32)

107. Syria (29)

108. Iraq (28)

109. Afghanistan (26)

By Nairobi News

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Immigration News

Hope at last: I can’t wait to hug my daughters

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You can feel the joy in her voice as she speaks. Joyce Makokha (pictured above)  is elated by news that international flights will resume next month. It means she can finally travel home to be with her daughters whom she has not seen in a long time. Ms Makokha is among Kenyan students who got stranded in India following a ban on international flights put in place to curb spread of coronavirus.

President Kenyatta during his address on Monday said international flights would resume on August 1, under strict adherence to Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

The lifting of the ban, three months later, has excited Kenyans living in India who have been yearning to travel home to reunite with their families.

Makokha, who lives in Coimbatore City, said she couldn’t wait to see her two daughters. She has been stranded since March when India closed its borders and suspended international flights. Makhoka, a student at Tamil Agricultural University and who hails from Bungoma County, said she was to travel back home in May, but could not following the cancellation of flights to Nairobi.

“I won’t miss the August flights; I have missed my two daughters. The government should pay for quarantine for students returning home. It should also have designated facilities for each of the countries students are returning from,” she said.

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Law student Felix Makori asked the State to subsidise travel costs to enable Kenyans return home. Mr Makori, who hails from Nyamira County, said most students may not afford the air tickets. “Most students are on private sponsorship and our guardians have exhausted all the resources to sustain our living during the Covid-19 period. We kindly request the government to offer subsidised rates once exams are over so that we can travel back,” the Karnatak University doctorate student said.

Mercy Penina from Mombasa said she has been stranded in India since March and hopes to return in August when flights resume. Ms Penina is a Pharmaceutical Science student at K L University Hyderabad in Telangana. “The president’s announcement is great. I am looking forward to returning home anytime from August,” she said.

Another student, Onsare Anyona from Nairobi, said he has been idle after the Indian government declared a lockdown in March and would have hoped to return to Kenya.

Aurangabad-based Kenyan doctorate communications student Joshua Boit welcomed the president’s move, saying many Kenyans had been caught up by the travel restrictions.

Mr Boit, who is from Kitale, appealed to the State to prioritise the evacuation of Kenyans who were caught up by the travel restrictions when they went to India for treatment and sporting events.

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“Kenya Airways should take the lead in flying home Kenyans from abroad. This is the time it should bring ticket prices down, its prices should not be higher than other international airlines. Many of us cannot wait to be back home,” Boit said.

By Standard.co.ke

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Diaspora

No Quarantine for Passengers Flying to Kenya, Government says

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Transport CS James Macharia, on Wednesday, July 8, announced that passengers arriving in Kenya from other countries would not be forced to quarantine if they did not exhibit flu symptoms.

“All passengers shall be exempt from quarantine on arrival at their destinations if their body temperature is not above 37.5 degrees celsius and they do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing and other flu-like symptoms.

“This is important because we do not expect a tourist to come from wherever they land here and then they are quarantined for 14 days,” the CS explained.

Speaking during a press briefing at Transcom House in Nairobi, CS Macharia revealed that the new protocols were aimed at encouraging tourism, one of the hardest-hit industries following the pandemic.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
DAILY NATION

In addition, the CS explained that airline crew and passengers would be allowed to the airports and that all crew would be exempted from quarantine after a flight, if their body temperatures were below 37 degrees, and if there was no suspected Covid-19 case in the flight.

However, the crew is expected to be quarantined in case of a suspected case from the flight.

Passengers flying into the country will be allowed to be dropped and picked at the various airports past curfew hours, provided that they are able to present a boarding pass.

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With the resumption of air transport slated for July 15, 2020, as per President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive, CS Macharia revealed that only 5 airlines had so far confirmed that they would be operational.

The five were identified as Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Aim Air, Boskovic Air, and Scenic Safaris.

In case of a suspected case of COVID-19 on a flight, CS Macharia revealed that the passengers within two rows of the passenger with the symptoms would be tested. If their results turned out to be negative, they would be then allowed to leave the airport, however, the reverse would result in the passengers being quarantined in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.”

Watch CS Macharia’s briefing below:

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