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How long will it take to process your EB-5 green card petition?

Last year the processing times of EB-5 petitions drastically increased overnight, jumping from a range of 20.5 to 27 months to a range of 29 to 45.5 months. Today, the estimated processing time is between 46 and 74.5 months and for petition to remove conditions between 27 and 48.5 months.

One potentially positive development is that the USCIS has proposed significant changes in how it will prioritize the EB-5 petition adjudications. On January 29, 2020, the USCIS announced that starting March 31, 2020 it would no longer continue its “first-in first-out” approach to adjudications, and instead would shift to a visa availability approach. Applicants from countries where visas are immediately available will now be better able to use their approximate 700 visas annual per-country allocation of EB-5 visas.

In August 2014, the U.S. Department of State, announced the first instance of EB-5 visa unavailability in the EB-5 program’s history, affecting investors born in China. Until recently, three countries face significant EB-5 visa backlog: China, Vietnam, and India. Chinese EB-5 visa backlog rose to a 16.2 year wait prediction in an October 2019. Vietnamese investors were predicted to wait 7.1 years. Indian investors filing in October 2019 had roughly 6.7 years’ worth of EB-5 visas “in line” ahead of them. Now, the EB-5 visa backlog for Chinese investors is less than 5 years and 3 years for Vietnamese investors. There is no longer backlog for investors born in India.

Despite the large amount of registered China fifth preference demand, currently there are not enough applicants who are actively pursuing their EB-5 case to fully utilize the amount of numbers which are expected to be available under the annual limit. Further, the spread of COVID-19 could also sap visa demand along with suspending visa services. Long waits may also become commonplace for all future investors if Congress enacts country cap removal legislation. Chinese investors would stand to gain from country cap removal legislation, whereas rest of would face longer wait times.

Please note that this articles does not constitute a legal advice.  We provided some insights into EB-5 processing. If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for EB-5 investor green card, call our experienced EB-5 visa attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.  

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Change of H-1B worker employer approved in 10 weeks

A real estate technology based company (Company) with a unique platform wanted to hire a foreign worker from India with a US Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering currently on H-1B visa for a position of a Technical Product Manager. The Company needs him to design and implement its full line of products. We filed the petition just before the worker’s H-1B status expired.

The Company and worker provided all documents necessary to show that all H-1B requirements are met and the H-B petition was approved in ten weeks without any delays or request for evidence.

Please note that this articles does not constitute a legal advice.  We outlined one case study changing an H-1B employer. If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for H-1B status or you want to change H-1B employer, call our experienced H-1B visa attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.  

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New areas (TEA) allowing lower EB-5 investments

On November 21, 2019, new EB-5 regulations became effective. They brought some changes to the EB-5 program.

One of the likely consequence of the new EB-5 regulations is that the Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designation (enabling a lower investment threshold) will be harder to get and urban TEAs will be driven to lesser-developed locations.

In order to be designated as a TEA, the EB-5 project must be located in either a rural area or in a location that has high unemployment. 

Prior to the effective date of new EB-5 regulations, the TEA designation was made at state level and most states had very liberal TEA’s designation policies, even in economically robust urban zones. Consequently, more than 95% of EB-5 investments were made in TEA-located projects. Under the new EB-5 regulations, USCIS is no longer deferring
to TEA designations made by state and local governments and is
directly reviewing and determining the designation of high-unemployment TEAs.

Under the previous regulations, it was quite common to aggregate census tracts to create Regional Center EB-5 offerings even in some of the nation’s most high-priced neighborhoods. Census tract combination for high-unemployment TEAs is now much more restrictive: census tract aggregation is limited to the project tract(s) plus some or all of the tracts that are “directly adjacent” to the project tract. Utilizing census block groups (a census tract is made up of several block groups) is no longer allowed. 

Some EB-5 industry experts (analysts and economists) estimate that approximately two thirds of the projects that had qualified before will not qualify for TEA status under the revised standard.

Please note that this articles does not constitute a legal advice.  We outlined only one aspect of new EB-5 regulations and its consequences.  If you would like to get a green card through an investment (EB-5), call an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.

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National Interest Exceptions for travelers from Schengen Area, UK and Ireland

On July 22, 2020, the Department of State announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland).

Business travelers, investors, academics, J-1 students, and treaty traders who have a valid visa or ESTA authorization that was issued prior to Presidential Proclamations 9993 or 9996’s effective date or who are seeking to apply for a visa may qualify.

If you need help to apply for National Interest Exception, call an experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.

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PERM notice during COVID-19 pandemic

An employer sponsoring a foreign worker for a green card (legal permanent resident status) needs to post the Notice of Filing for 10 consecutive business days at the worksite. During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic questions arose how to satisfy the notice requirement when many offices are closed and employees work from their homes. On July 23, 2020 the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification confirmed that the PERM Notice of Filing requirement is flexible and employers could even satisfy it by posting it on the exterior door of its building, office, or front entry even if the work place is 100% closed and employees are 100% remote, so long as the business is operational (i.e., conducting business). 

For more information about sponsoring a foreign worker for a permanent position and PERM labor certification, click here. If you would like to discuss if you can sponsor a foreign worker for a green card, call an experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.

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USCIS Clarified Guidance on Deployment of EB-5 Investment Capital

USCIS has updated its Policy Manual with clarifying guidance on the deployment of investment capital under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. It addresses the deployment of capital by a new commercial enterprise before and after jobs have been created.

Before the job creation requirement is met, a new commercial enterprise may deploy capital directly or through any financial instrument so long as applicable requirements are satisfied. The purchase of financial instruments traded on secondary markets generally does not satisfy these requirements.

USCIS further clarifies that once the job creation requirement has been met and the investment capital is returned, the new commercial enterprise may further deploy such capital within a reasonable amount of time (12 months or longer) into any commercial activity that is consistent with the purpose of the new commercial enterprise. Further deployment must continue to meet all applicable eligibility requirements within the framework of the initial bases of eligibility and must occur within the regional center’s geographic area, including any amendments to its geographic area approved before the further deployment. The further deployment, however, does not need to remain with the same (or any) job creating entity or in a targeted employment area.

For more information about EB-5 program, click here. If you would like to discuss if you qualify for an investor green card based on EB-5 category, call an experienced immigration attorney at 480-425-2009 or schedule your consultation online.

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Proposed USCIS filing fee increase

In November 2019, the Department of Homeland Security proposed to adjust USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 21 percent, add new fees, and make other changes, including form changes and the introduction of several new forms. For example, the filing fee for the application for naturalization is proposed to increase by 83% to $1,170, petition for H-2A non-immigrant worker by 87% to $860 (named worker), petition for L non-immigrant worker by 77% to $815 and petition for O non-immigrant worker by 55% to $715.

On July 22, 2020, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs completed review of a final rule increasing USCIS filing fees. The Federal Register will post a copy of the final rule for public inspection before publishing it officially. In the proposed rule, DHS noted that once the rule was finalized, it would not take effect for at least 60 days after publication.

If you are considering applying for a naturalization, green card or non-immigrant status, call an experienced immigration attorney at (480) 425-2009 or contact us through our website to schedule a consultation
before the filing fees increase.

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Why hire an Immigration Attorney?

Because so much information is available online, you may feel that you can figure out what you need to do using Google and other online resources. Also, there is a misperception that immigration is about filling forms and submitting simple paperwork. While you can certainly gain knowledge of different visa and green card categories and forms to fill, keep in mind that there is lots of misinformation on the Internet, some information may be outdated or would not apply in your case. Immigration law is constantly changing. Even a minor regulatory or policy adjustment affects thousands of people. You may not be aware how the latest policy change, order or decision affects your case.

An experienced immigration attorney is up-to-date with all the government rules, policies, regulations, and various other local laws that may affect your case. His or her extensive experience and holistic view of even complex situations make him or her the best asset for you and can make a profound difference for you and your life.

We regularly advise clients who have already filed applications on their own with inadvertent mistakes that caused serious consequences. They may have filed a wrong form, missed a deadline, received a denial following a Request for Evidence that could have been easily addressed, or filed for visa, green card or naturalization when they were ineligible and face the threat of removal. One simple mistake on the form may be interpreted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services as misrepresentation or fraud with serious consequences. Your one mistake can make the process more complex and can even prevent your from ever achieving what you were trying to apply on your own (e.g., children may reach certain age, deadline is missed, etc.).

An experienced immigration attorney can get you the result that sometimes you would not be able to get on your own. An experienced immigration attorney can save you money, time, frustration, and anguish in dealing with a much harder case on your own. You have someone on your side ready to answer your questions, guide you and help you in every step of sometimes long and complex immigration process.

An experienced immigration attorney evaluates your situation, determines your eligibility and the best process to take to achieve your immigration goal, knows what forms you will need, how to fill the forms accurately, what documents to submit and how to best present your case . Therefore, when you hire an experienced immigration attorney, you will have peace of mind that this life-changing immigration process will be achieved successfully without unnecessary delays. In addition, unlike document preparers and various online immigration service providers, immigration lawyers have a professional and ethical obligations to ensure that they
competently provide legal services to you.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you achieve your dream of legally living and working in the U.S., call an experienced immigration attorney at (480) 425-2009 or contact us through our website to schedule a consultation.

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H-2B application filing window opens on July 3, 2020

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that the filing window to submit H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification (Form ETA-9142B) requesting work start dates of October 1, 2020, or later, will open on July 3, 2020, at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Such applications will be denied if they are filed before July 3, 2020, at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time. OFLC will randomly order for processing applications filed during the initial three calendar days (July 3-5, 2020) will be selected using the randomization procedures.

H-2B visa category is for workers performing temporary non-agricultural service or labor.   The employer petitioning for H-1B status for a foreign worker must establish that the need for the employee will end in the near, definable, future.  The request for labor must be a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need, or an intermittent need. For more information about H-2B status, click here.

Please note that this articles does not constitute a legal advice.  We showed only a procedural step and deadline of the H-2B process.  If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for H-2B status, call our experienced H-2B visa attorney at 480-425-2009 or contact an experienced H-2B attorney via our website to schedule a consultation. We look forward to discussing how we can help you obtain your H-2B visa.

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Treaty investor (E-2) visa for Czech dealer of motorized surfboard

My client, a Czech entrepreneur, formed a US company that entered into a dealer agreement with importer of motorized surfboard manufactured in the Czech Republic. Motorized surfboard is an ultra-light high tech personal watercraft and MotoSurf is one of the fastest growing sports.

My client’s company focuses on marketing, sales and service of motorized surfboards boards. The investment was “substantial” and consisted with showroom construction, furniture, equipment, tools, event expenses, payroll and other related expenses. The company started with just four employees and is expanding quickly.

The investment is not marginal and the enterprise is real and doing business. The treaty investor (E-2) visa was approved pursuant to bilateral treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.

Please note that this case study does not constitute a legal advice.  We simplified the law in order to outline the treaty investor (E-2) visa requirements.  If you would like to discuss if you may qualify for treaty investor (E-2) visa, call our experienced treaty investor (E-2) visa attorney at 480-425-2009 or contact an experienced treaty investor (E-2) attorney via our website to schedule a consultation. We look forward to discussing how we can help you obtain your treaty investor (E-2) visa.