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Federal Register Highlights – 12/31/15

December 31, 2015

Unpublished, time-sensitive and proposed rules for December 31, 2015:

RULE: We are superseding airworthiness directive (AD) 2002–13– 11 for Eurocopter France (now Airbus Helicopters) Model EC120B helicopters. AD 2002–13–11 required installing front and side covers on the cabin floor to protect the yaw control at both the pilot and co-pilot stations. Since we issued AD 2002–13–11, we have determined that the required actions should apply only to the cabin’s right-hand pilot station. This AD retains the requirements of AD 2002–13–11 but for only the pilot station. These actions are intended to prevent an object from sliding between the canopy and the cabin floor, loss of yaw control, and subsequent loss of helicopter control. This AD is effective February 4, 2016.

RULE: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 767–200, –300, and –300F series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a finding that certain barrel nuts installed at the vertical fin may be subject to stress corrosion and cracking. This AD requires either repetitive inspections of vertical fin barrel nuts for corrosion or a magnetic check to identify certain barrel nuts, and corrective actions if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corroded and loose barrel nuts that attach the vertical fin to body section 48; this condition could result in reduced structural integrity of the vertical fin attachment joint, loss of the vertical fin, and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane. This AD is effective February 4, 2016.

PROPOSED RULE: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to amend its regulations related to certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs. The proposed amendments would provide various benefits to participants in those programs, including: Improved processes for U.S. employers seeking to sponsor and retain immigrant and nonimmigrant workers, greater stability and job flexibility for such workers, and increased transparency and consistency in the application of agency policy related to affected classifications. Many of these changes are primarily aimed at improving the ability of U.S. employers to hire and retain high-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs), while increasing the ability of such workers to seek promotions, accept lateral positions with current employers, change employers, or pursue other employment options. First, DHS proposes to amend its regulations consistent with certain worker portability and other provisions in the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended, as well as the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA). These proposed amendments would clarify and improve longstanding agency policies and procedures— previously articulated in agency memoranda and precedent decisions— implementing sections of AC21 and ACWIA related to certain foreign workers, including sections specific to workers who have been sponsored for LPR status by their employers. In so doing, the proposed rule would enhance consistency among agency adjudicators and provide a primary repository of governing rules for the regulated community. In addition, the proposed rule would clarify several interpretive questions raised by AC21 and ACWIA. Second, consistent with existing DHS authorities and the goals of AC21 and ACWIA, DHS proposes to amend its regulations governing certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to provide additional stability and flexibility to employers and workers in those programs. The proposed rule would, among other things: improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions by limiting the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval; further enhance job portability for such beneficiaries by increasing their ability to retain their priority dates for use with subsequently approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions; establish or extend grace periods for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers so that they may more easily maintain their nonimmigrant status when changing employment opportunities; and provide additional stability and flexibility to certain high-skilled workers by allowing those who are working in the United States in certain nonimmigrant statuses, are the beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions, are subject to immigrant visa backlogs, and demonstrate compelling circumstances to independently apply for employment authorization for a limited period. These and other proposed changes would provide much needed flexibility to the beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant visa petitions, as well as the U.S. employers who employ and sponsor them for permanent residence. Finally, to provide additional certainty and stability to certain employment-authorized individuals and their U.S. employers, DHS is also proposing changes to its regulations governing the processing of applications for employment authorization to minimize the risk of any gaps in such authorization. These changes would provide for the automatic extension of the validity of certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Forms I–766) for an interim period upon the timely filing of an application to renew such documents. At the same time, in light of national security and fraud concerns, DHS is proposing to remove regulations that provide a 90- day processing timeline for EAD applications and that require the issuance of interim EADs if processing extends beyond the 90-day mark. Written comments must be received on or before February 29, 2016. (To submit comments, visit www.regulations.gov, reference Docket Number USCIS-2015-0008.)

TEMPORARY RULE: NMFS is adjusting the Swordfish (SWO) General Commercial permit retention limits for the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions for January through June of the 2016 fishing year, unless otherwise noticed. The SWO General Commercial permit retention limits in each of these regions are increased from the default limits to six SWO per vessel per trip. The SWO General Commercial permit retention limit in the Florida SWO Management Area will remain unchanged at the default limit of zero SWO per vessel per trip. This adjustment applies to SWO General Commercial permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels when on a non for-hire trip. This action is based upon consideration of the applicable inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria. The adjusted SWO General Commercial permit retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions are effective January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2016.

PROPOSED RULE: NMFS issues a proposed rule to revise the authorized methods for payment of cost recovery fees for the Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Program and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program. This proposed rule is necessary to improve data security procedures and to reduce administrative costs of processing cost recovery fee payments. The proposed rule is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, and other applicable laws. Submit comments on or before February 1, 2016. (To submit comments, visit www.regulations.gov, reference Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2015-0113.)

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