PR to transport over 20 percent of freight business after completion of ML-I; official
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PR to transport over 20 percent of freight business after completion of ML-I; official

Madison Franz

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PR to transport over 20 percent of freight business after completion of ML-I; official
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Pakistan Railways is expecting to transport over 20 percent of the country’s freight business after the completion of Main Line-I (ML-I) under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would help the department to make profitable entity.

Currently, Pakistan Railways is transporting only four percent of the total freight traffic in the country which was not sufficient for the department, an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP on Wednesday. He said that the ML-I had been planned to be executed in three packages, adding, preliminary design of the project has been completed and a formal request for the loan for Package-I has been conveyed. ML-I is 1872-kilometer long track from Peshawar to Karachi and expected to create around 24,000 jobs and would jump up train speed to 160 kilometers per hour, he added. He said railway line would be upgraded from Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian while a new track would be laid with improved sub grade for 160km per hour. Bridges would also be rehabilitated and constructed.

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Moreover, he said, provision of modern signaling and telecom systems, conversion of level-crossing into underpasses or flyovers, fencing of track, establishment of dry port near Havelian and up-gradation of Walton Training Academy (Lahore) were also the components of this gigantic project. He said that completion of the project would not only create direct (20,000 local labour/technical experts and 4,000 Chinese experts) jobs but also reduce travel time between Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 10 hours. The official told that the capacity of the line would also be increased from 34 trains to 170 trains per day and speed of the freight trains would be increased at 120 km/h. After its completion, he said that the project would generate economic opportunities for daily wagers in main train stations of major cities and would also attract the foreign investment. On the other hand, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique had also reviewed the performance of railways’ all dry ports in the country and directed to send evaluation reports of all ports to the ministry for promotion of trade and increasing revenue.

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US H-1B visa, green card process to get easier, Indians to benefit

Madison Franz

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US H-1B visa, green card process to get easier, Indians to benefit
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The White House is looking into a presidential commission’s recommendations to cut the processing time for Green Card applications to just six months and to clear the backlogs by April 2023 in a move that could help hundreds of thousands of immigrant families, especially those from China and India.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders released its inaugural report on Friday. The report was approved on May 12 and transmitted to the President on August 24 and the White House Domestic Policy Council is currently reviewing its recommendations before they can sent to President Joe Biden for his decision.

The report states because of COVID-19-related closures and staffing limitations as well as the continued effect of the 2017 travel bans, processing green cards up to the annual cap has been difficult.

It recommends that the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) facility should hire additional officers to increase its capacity to process Green Card application interviews by 100 percent in three months from August 2022, and by increasing Green Card applications and visa interviews and adjudicate decisions by 150 percent by April 2023, and reduce the current backlog by the end of 2023.

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The committee said in the report that Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timelines should be limited to a targeted goal of six months.Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timelines should be limited to a targeted goal of six months

The commission recommends to reduce the agency’s pending family-based Green Card backlog, US Citizenship and Immigration Services should review their processes, systems, and policies and establish new internal cycle time goals by streamlining processes, removing redundant steps, if any, and automating any manual approvals.

It says this should improve its internal dashboards and reporting system, and enhance policies to reduce the cycle time for processing all forms related to family-based Green Card applications

Family reunification has been delayed for years due to an increase in family-based immigration backlogs over the past three decades.

The report states that out of the 226,000 green cards available, only 65,452 family-based preference green cards were issued in FY 2021.

“If there is a query or more information is needed, USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the Department of State (DOS) shall continue to process the applications outside the six-month goal and adjudicate decisions in a timely fashion,”

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“If an application is not completed in six months, then it will not be terminated and will continue to be processed in a timely fashion ongoing,”, the report states.

The recommendations also include adjudicating requests for temporary work programmes, such as the H-1B and H-2A visas for agricultural workers within a span of two months extending the period of work permit extension to 365 days instead of the current 180 days.

A green card is a Permanent Resident Card issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently while the H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to hire foreign workers for specialized positions that call for theoretical or technical expertise.

If accepted and implemented the recommendations could be a big relief to immigrant families especially from India and China.

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How To Travel Better Within A Tight Budget

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How To Travel Better Within A Tight Budget
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Are you waiting for your budget to permit your travel plans?

Well, don’t!

What if we said you can travel even with a tight budget and still not miss out on any of the thrills?

This article will help you design your next trip under a narrow budget. So keep reading!

Close Your Eyes And Start Counting…

Count your budget first. This is the very first step to planning a trip. If you don’t have a clear picture of your budget, you cannot move forward with a plan.

Given below are the tried and tested methods for deciding on a budget:

Step 1: Gather Information

Of course, you’d only pay what you want! But it’s important to understand the tourism market of the place you decide to visit.

For this, you need to start calling up agencies and hotels and checking travel ticket prices. Once you’ve made enough calls and scrolled enough through the internet, you can start drawing an average of all the estimations you gathered.

Step 2: Deduct From The Average

Now that you have the average rate, you need to deduct quite a few bucks from it to get your budget on the lower side. For example, if your average was 1000 bucks, the value you’ll take should be 750 bucks.

The art of bargain and sticking to budget begins here!

Step 3: Redial

Call back all the suitable numbers you came across in the first step. The ones whose quotes went to the lower side or around your budget need to be approached again.

Only this time, you quote the price instead of them. Try to present all the data you gathered and mix it up with some constant persuasion to convince agencies to give you the best deals.

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Additional Cutbacks

Now that you know how to get your bookings and tickets ready at your desired price, its time to consider some cutback methods—

Travel In Groups

If you’re traveling alone or just want to go out there and explore, group travel excursions might be a lifesaver. Group tour operators have a lot of influence on lodging and activity providers since they bring in a lot of customers.

As a result, they are able to obtain fantastic discounts on prices that you would never be able to obtain on your own.

Who knows, though? You can end up returning home with a large group of new friends from around the globe!

Travel Off-Season

There are fewer people traveling during the off-season. Thus there are more options to save money. Traveling outside of peak season allows you to plan things like lodging and day excursions at a lower cost. Flexibility permits you to be spontaneous and change your plans at the last minute. Traveling during the shoulder or off-season may frequently save you money.

Select Off-beat Locations

Unknown locales provide you with a variety of possibilities for comfortable accommodation, privacy, hospitality and loads of opportunities to save.

When you visit one such location, you get the opportunity to explore the cultures, histories, and beauty of the places. Less-traveled tourist locations have an abundance of natural beauty with cleaner accommodations.

Self-Entertainment Is The Key

If you’re trying to save on your trip budget and travel plans, scratch out the extravagant and unnecessary entertainments. You don’t need to watch a movie or attend a music festival if the aim of your trip is not aimed at that.

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Instead, you can prepare a nice travel playlist with thrillers and country songs for your backpacking days. Download these movies and songs for free on  thenewpiratebay.org for a budget entertainment package.

Also, carry your ukulele, guitar, or some percussion instrument and jam with the locals to experience the purest joys!

More Hostels Than Hotels

Instead of staying at hotels or resorts, consider a hostel. Even while some hostel beds cost only a few dollars a night, you’ll get the real backpacker experience and lifelong memories.

Backpackers use the Hostelworld app the most because it allows them to search for and book the most affordable, highly rated lodging available in the destination nation.

No Shopping Spree

When you travel to a place, experiences become more precious than materials. As a souvenir, you can bring sea shells, pine cones, pebble stones, or some rare plant saplings for your friends, family and loved ones.

Whatever may be the case, avoid shopping at any cost if you’re trying to travel within a tight budget!

Ending Note

Your travel plans do not deserve the excessive anxiety of going overboard with your budget. Therefore, plan right, right from the beginning. Be strict with your affordability and know when to let the wallet loose.

Remember, you can have the most amazing and memorable trips with the tightest of budget!

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How American tourists are saving France’s summer

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How American tourists are saving France's summer
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Summer is in full swing in Paris and the entrance square to the Louvre is busy with vendors selling water or Eiffel Tower souvenirs. Among them, US tourist Chris Walkley is enjoying his first visit to France, taking selfies with his girlfriend by the art museum’s glass pyramid.
“Paris definitely lived up to its reputation,” says Walkley, from Boston. “Food’s been great. Everyone’s been very hospitable.”
For Walkley, traveling to France has been a symbol of getting his life back to normal after two years of restrictions and disruptions caused by the pandemic. “I feel like things are back on track,” he adds with a smile.
For France, Walkley’s presence is a symbol of optimism.
He’s just one of the tens of thousands of Americans expected to visit Paris this summer, bringing a widespread sense of relief to a tourism industry battered by Covid and the sanctions-induced loss of the wealthy Russians who regularly flock to its hotspots.
North America is projected to be the biggest contributor to the Parisian tourism market this summer, according to the city’s government, with booking levels almost back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
“The Americans are doing the job,” said Frédéric Hocquard, Paris deputy mayor for tourism.
“Meaning that they are coming back en masse and with a lot of money to spend.”

They’re back!

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Mayor Jean-François Dieterich says Russian tourists have been replaced by others.
Even outside of Paris, from north to south, tourist workers and government officials across France are chanting the same enthusiastic message — the Americans are back!
This was the front page headline of the Nice Matin, a prominent French Riviera newspaper, on July 6. “They are spending without counting after two years of restrictions,” it reported.
On average, American tourists, mostly visiting in groups, are each spending $402 (400 euros) per day in France, bringing the budget for a 10-day visit to a stunning $7,687, way ahead of any other foreign tourists, according to a report did by research company GfK for Visa.
The Americans are especially important this year for the south of France along the Mediterranean, whose beautiful coastlines have long been a paradise harboring many wealthy Russian vacationers.
The department of Alpes-Maritime, home to the sun-kissed likes of Nice and Cannes, was projected to lose $50.4 million in 2022 due to the absence of the Russian tourists who descended on towns like Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, according to a report published by the area’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in March as it evaluated the impact of war in Ukraine.
But those negative forecasts have failed to play out, the chamber of commerce said, acknowledging that “the summer season is looking quite good.”
The unexpected turnaround was confirmed by local officials and hotel owners on the ground in the French Riviera.
“It is true that there is less Russians for sure but they have been replaced by all the other people,” said Jean-François Dieterich, mayor of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
The small town of fewer than 1,500 residents has six out of the 61 Russian-owned properties frozen by the French government, according to the French Finance Ministry.
“It was quite surprising because we felt that a lack of Russian clientele will have an impact on the hotel but finally it did not,” said Bruno Mercadal, manager of Hotel Royal-Riviera, a five-star venue in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

‘Travel revenge’

Predicted huge tourism losses in the Alpes-Maritime region have failed to materialize.
Before the pandemic, Russian tourists represented 20% to 25% of the hotel’s customers during the summer months, but this year all were gone due to sanctions imposed on Russia.
Mercadal recalled the chaos that erupted shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine — Russian guests staying at the hotel had to pay with cash because their credit cards became useless after their country was kicked out of the SWIFT international payment system.
Now, Americans are flocking to Mercadal’s hotel. Usually, US visitors represent around the same share of clientele as Russians before the pandemic, but this year for June alone, the share of American guests jumped to 42%.
“This is quite incredible,” Mercadal said.
The war in Ukraine has also impacted exchange rates, driving down the value of the euro to its lowest levels against the dollar since 2002, meaning that traveling to Europe has become a lot cheaper for Americans.
“What’s going on this year was this travel revenge,” Mercadal said, referring to the phenomenon of people splurging on big trips as a way of making up for the Covid-enforced sequestrations of the past two years.
“It’s a good surprise and it compensates, largely, [for] the lack of Russian clientele,” he adds.
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