• U.S. companies can apply for H1-B visa for a skilled foreign employee beginning 1 April for the fiscal year which begins 1 October; last year, all 65,000 H1-B visas were filled on the first day of application; tomorrow will be no different

  • Beginning 11 May, individuals who want to enter federal buildings or board a plane will have to show a state driver’s license complying with the Real ID Act — unless their state has been granted an extension by DHS (the extension is until 11 October 2009); Maine and South Carolina do not have Real ID-compliant licenses, and they are yet to apply for an extension (the deadline is today)

  • The U.S. Government Printing Office’s (GPO) decision to outsource the production of the new e-passports to companies in Europe and Thailand makes legislators, security experts worry; Thailand is an unstable country with a tradition of corruption and rising Islamic terrorism problem; the Dutch company which operates the Thai e-passport production facilities filed court papers in October 2007 charging that China had stolen the company’s patented technology for e-passport chips

  • New York’s JFK joins a list of other U.S. airports now requiring non-U.S. citizens to submit ten fingerprints; on a typical day, JFK sees almost 14,400 international visitors complete USVISIT biometric procedures

  • Texas will invest $2 million to place 200 video cameras along its border with Mexico; Texas citizens could watch the videos on their computers at home, and alert the authorities if they see something suspicious

  • The United States, continuing to defy the EU, grants pre-visa waiver status to Slovakia, Hungary, and Lithuania; EU wants to negotiate a package deal on behalf of the twelve new EU members, while U.S. prefers to deal with each country on its security merits

  • U.K. market

    UKVisas is part of the U.K. government’s e-border program - and to date has moved faster than other components of the scheme; the program wins a technology award, which is a good occasion to see where the program stands today

  • The United States allows millions of little-educated, low-skill immigrants to come to the country, while allocating a tiny number of visas to high-skill scientists and engineers; this is going to change, but critics complain that bill still leaves major problems — chief among them: setting wage floor for H-1B employees — unaddressed

  • Most EU countries have visa waiver agreements with the United States — but not 11 of the 12 states which joined the EU since 2004; the EU wants to negotiate a package deal for these countries, but the United States prefers bilateral deals so it can pick and choose among the new EU members; the EU says this violates the EU rules

  • TSA to undertake a sweeping review of airport security practices; private jets’ owners and passengers will have to provide personal information to be screened by border patrol

  • U.K. industry special

    The new, beautiful terminal — it also has an impressive view of the airport and its surroundings — will open on 14 March, and begin operations on 27 March; the mixing — and fingerprinting — of both international and domestic travelers; transfers to other airlines; and tight security checks pose problems

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police discover thousands of stolen and forged credit cards, licences, passports, personal records — and printing and embossing machines to manufacture IDs, passports, and print forged money; largest such ring in Canadian history

  • Since the program began in November 2006, the Coast Guard has collected biometric data from 1,526 migrants and prosecuted 118 of those migrants; program was tested in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and judged successful, is now being expanded to the Florida Straits

  • The soap box

    DHS received the keys from Boeing — behind schedule, it should be noted — to Project 28, only to find out that it fell short of the promise the department made to Congress, and that Boeing made to the department; Boeing has now received a three-year extension; the Arizona Republic says the failure of Project 28 has deeper meaning for technology and policy

  • Project 28, built by Boeing along twenty-eight miles of the Arizona-Mexico border, was meant to showcase advanced border security technologies which DHS would use in the more ambitious $8 billion border surveillance system along the U.S.-Mexico border; DHS initially said that the project’s technology failed to deliver on its promise, and gave Boeing a three-year extension; DHS now defends its handling of the project

  • After Boeing delivers Project 28 — a system of cameras, sensors, towers, and software to secure a twenty-eight-mile stretch of the Arizona border — to DHS, department concludes that the project lacks the operational capabilities DHS and Congress expected it to have; first phase of project now extended by three years

  • Nearly half of the envisioned 670 miles of border fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border is complete; DHS says that the advanced technology component of the border monitoring system will be rolled out soon, and that other measures are making the border more secure

  • There are 300 million crossings per year at EU member states’ border crossings — 160 million crossings by EU citizens, 60 million by non-EU without visa, 80 million by non-EU with visa; EU wants to introduce biometric IDs to know who is coming in

  • DHS’s 2009 budget includes 19 percent increase in money for border security; administration to request $775 million to complete 670 miles of fencing this year and other infrastructure

  • Beginning Thursday, U.S. and Canadian citizens crossing the border between the two countries will have to show a passport, passport card, or enhanced driver’s license before allowing to cross; business leaders worry this will have a chilling effect on local economies along the border