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EB-5 Insights

Where Government Policies and Business Realities Converge

Posted in E-Verify, EB-5, EB-5 Program, Government Shutdown, President Trump's Administration

Congress approved the Omnibus Appropriations legislation on Feb. 14, 2019.  On Feb. 15, the president signed the legislation into law and announced additional executive actions to further address needs the Administration has identified at the southern border.

Now, all 12 Appropriations bills for this fiscal year are complete and extended through Sept. 30, 2019, and Congress may return to its agenda without concern for any further Appropriations-related government shutdowns or lapses in critical programs such as EB-5, E-Verify, and others.

For more on the government shutdown, click here.

˘ Not admitted to the practice of law

Posted in EB-5, Government Shutdown

Late on Feb. 13, 2019, House and Senate Conferees on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations announced an agreement on DHS Appropriations for FY 2019 and the remaining six other outstanding FY 2019 Appropriations measures. The measure, HJ Res 31, or “the Omnibus,” is over 1,000 pages and deals with many areas of government, ranging from agriculture to transportation, among others.

Of particular importance to our readers, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is extended until Sept. 30, 2019, in the following passage:

DIVISION H-EXTENSIONS, TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS, AND OTHER MATTERS TITLE I

IMMIGRATION EXTENSIONS

SEC. 104. Section 610(b) of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 B.SC. 1153 note) shall be applied by substituting “September 30, 2019” for “September 30, 2015”.

The Conference agreement and legislative package must now be presented and passed by the Senate and House and agreed to by the president before midnight on Feb. 15 to avoid a government shutdown.

Please check back, as we will continue to provide updates on significant developments. For more on the government shutdown, click here.

˘ Not admitted to the practice of law

Posted in Awards & Recognitions

Kate Kalmykov, an Immigration & Compliance shareholder the New Jersey office of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, has been recognized as one of NJBIZ’s “2019 Best 50 Women in Business.” According to NJBIZ’s website, the award honors women business leaders that are prominent in their companies and industries, as well as their communities. The honorees are front-runners shaping the cultural and economic future of New Jersey.

To read the full press release, click here.

Posted in China, Chinese New Year, General

Greenberg Traurig’s EB-5 team would like to thank our clients, colleagues, and fellow EB-5 industry members for another successful year. We look forward to working with each of you in 2019.

Posted in China, H-1B, Immigration, Immigration Law, L visa, State Department, U.S. State Department

The Department of State (DOS) and Mission China announced that changes have been made to consolidate the processing in China of H and L visa applications for foreign nationals seeking to work in the United States. Starting March 1, 2019, all interviews for H and L visas will be conducted only at the U.S. Embassy Beijing, U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou, and U.S. Consulate General Shanghai. The U.S. Consulate General Chengdu and U.S. Consulate General Shenyang will no longer be conducting H or L visa interviews. These changes are a result of the volume and complexity of H and L visa petitions, and will ensure adequate resources and expertise are effectively applied in reviewing the petitions.

H-1B, Specialty Occupation, is a visa that allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. Specialty occupation fields include, but are not limited to: architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts.

L-1A, Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager, is a visa classification that allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. The L-1A visa also allows a foreign company, which may not already have an affiliated U.S. office, to send an executive or manager to the U.S. with the purpose of establishing one.

L-1B, Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge, allows a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interest from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its U.S. offices. The L-1B visa also allows a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

GT will continue to monitor and report on changes in consular processing that can impact the visa application process.

To read more on U.S. business immigration developments as relates to China, click here.

˘ Not admitted to the practice of law

Posted in Conrad 30 Waiver Program, Continuing Resolution (CR), E-Verify, EB-5

As a continuation of an earlier posting, the U.S. Senate initiated a process by voice vote opening the US Government through February 15, H.J. Res 28, and providing for House and Senate consideration of Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, H. J. Res 31.   These actions will provide funding for all remaining Appropriations bills subject to the recent lapse.  This action will also re-start suspended vital immigration programs such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, E-Verify, Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1  medical doctors and Non-minister religious workers programs.

The House passed the legislative package by Unanimous Consent later in the evening.  The House will forward the legislation to the President wherein he is expected to sign (per media reports) the package into law.

Please check back as we will be posting additional information regarding the US Government re-starting of operations.

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, EB-5, Government Shutdown, Legislation, President Trump's Administration, shutdown, Uncategorized

After 35 days of closure, with multiple House bills debated and passed, and Senate bills debated, President Trump called a press conference the afternoon of Jan. 25 relating to ending the government shutdown. Standing in the Rose Garden, the president announced a deal to reopen the government for three weeks and provide for ongoing fiscal negotiations:

  • Clean Continuing Resolution that reopens government, including vital programs like EB-5, to Feb. 15;
  • No designated “wall” funding;
  • Creates a legislative path for Department of Homeland Security appropriations to be conferenced and negotiated;
  • Calls for two resolutions; one to open all of government and one as the DHS Appropriations Conference vehicle;
  • Includes specific back-pay provision for federal employees.

Posted in EB-3, EB-5, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Visa, Visa Bulletin

The Department of State (DOS) February 2019 Visa Bulletin shows considerably more movement in employment-based categories than in January. The EB-1 category will advance two months in all countries, with China and India advancing to Feb. 8, 2017, and all other countries moving forward to Dec. 1, 2017. The EB-2 category will remain current for all countries except China, advancing to Oct. 1, 2015, and India, advancing to April 6, 2009.

Although most countries will remain current on the EB-3 category, China will advance to July 1, 2015; India will advance to April 22, 2009; and the Philippines will advance to Aug. 1, 2017. Notably, India’s final action date in the EB-3 category has surpassed the EB-2 category, leaving EB-3 India with a more favorable final action date than that of EB-2 India.

The EB-4 dates will remain current for most countries except for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which will advance by one week to March 1, 2016, and Mexico, which will advance to Sept. 1, 2017. In the EB-5 non-regional center categories, the date for Vietnam will advance to June 15, 2016, but the date for China will remain the same, which is set at Sept. 1, 2014. Dates will remain current for all other countries in the EB-5 non-regional center categories.

The EB-4 religious workers and regional center EB-5 categories will remain listed as unavailable as the laws authorizing those categories expired after midnight Dec. 20, 2018, and Dec. 21, 2018, respectively. Accordingly, no EB-4 religious worker visas may be issued, or a final action taken on an adjustment of status application, after midnight Dec. 20, 2018. Further, individuals seeking admission in this category must have been admitted into the United States no later than midnight Dec. 20, 2018.

If Congress reauthorizes these categories as is expected, the cutoff dates in February for certain religious workers would immediately become “Current” for February for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which would be subject to a March 1, 2016 final action date, and for Mexico, which would be subject to a Sept. 1, 2017 final action date. Similarly, upon an extension of the program, the cutoff date for EB5 regional center cases would immediately become “Current” for February for all countries except China-mainland born, which would be subject to a Sept. 1, 2014, final action date and Vietnam, which would be subject to a June 15, 2016, final action date. GT will be closely monitoring these advancements as they unfold.

For those seeking to adjust status, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website indicates that the department’s Final Action Dates chart must be used for filing Form I-485.

Referring to the Final Action Dates, following are updates for the February Visa Bulletin:

Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases

Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications

The February 2019 Visa Bulletin includes projections for visa availability in the coming months, through May 2019. The projections provided for the employment-based categories are as follows:

EB-1:

Worldwide (most countries):  Up to two months.
China and India:  Up to one month.

EB-2:

Worldwide:     Current for the foreseeable future
China:             Up to three months
India:               Up to one week

EB-3:

Worldwide:     Current
China:             Up to three weeks
India:               Up to three months
Mexico:           Current
Philippines:     Rapid movement to generate demand

EB-4:   Current for most countries

El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras:    Up to one week
Mexico:    Rapid forward movement until limit is reached

EB-5:   The category will remain “Current” for most countries

China-mainland born:  Up to one week
Vietnam:  Up to three weeks

For more information on Visa Bulletin Updates, click here.

Posted in Awards & Recognitions, EB-5

Three attorneys with global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP are listed in EB-5 Investors Magazine’s, “Top 25 Immigration Attorneys in the EB-5 Industry.” Laura Foote Reiff is included as one of the EB-5 attorneys in specialized fields, for her legislative work. Kate Kalmykov and Jennifer Hermansky are both recognized among the top 25 immigration attorneys.

Reiff, Kalmykov, and Hermansky were selected through a combination of community member votes, input from the editorial board, and analysis from the EB-5 Investors Magazine in-house team.  This is the fifth time they have been selected for this list.

To read the full press release, click here.

Posted in EB-5, I-526, Immigrant Investor, Immigrant Visa, Immigration, U.S. State Department, Uncategorized, USCIS

It is widely known that India has become a major EB-5 investor market in recent years, as EB-5 is becoming an increasingly popular option for Indian nationals who seek permanent residence in the United States; the fact that there has been a growing number of high-net-worth individuals in India clearly helps to stimulate this demand. Specifically, Indian investors’ share of the EB-5 investor market has grown substantially since 2014, surpassing Vietnam as the second largest EB-5 investor market in fiscal year 2017, although its total market share, five percent, remains small. Invest In The USA (IIUSA) recently published a data report, 2018 EB-5 Investor Market Analysis: India and United Arab Emirates, based on the data supplied by USCIS, Department of State, United Nations, and Capgemini. Some of the highlights from this report are summarized below, along with additional observations:

  1. Significant Increase in Number of Petitions: A total of 587 I-526 petitions were filed by Indian investors in FY2017, which is almost 600 percent of the total number of petitions filed by Indian investors in 2014. This number remains small given that a total of 12,165 I-526 petitions were filed worldwide in FY2017.
  2. Significant Increase in Number of Visa Usage: A total of 585 EB-5 visas in FY2018 were used by applicants from India, which is a 236 percent increase from FY 2017. This is the highest year-over-year growth among the top EB-5 investor markets, including China, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil. A total of 1,469 EB-5-based immigrant visas have been issued to applicants from India between FY2008 and FY2018, of which a total of 1,115 visas were issued since FY2014. This number remains small given the total number of EB-5-based visas issued each year.
  3. Significant Increase in Number of High Net Worth Individuals in India: Based on the Asian-Pacific Wealth Report 2018 by Capgemini, India’s high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) population grew by 20 percent from 2016 to approximately 263,000 in 2017, which is the highest among all Asian-Pacific countries. This is likely an important factor that contributes to the growing number of EB-5 investors from India. Despite the significant increase, the total number of HNWI in India remains small, given the large population of India.
  4. United States as the Second Most Popular Migration Destination for Indian Nationals: According to the data published by Pew Research Center, the United States is the second most popular migration destination for Indian migrants in 2017, just behind United Arab Emirates (UAE). A total of 2,310,000 Indian migrants have immigrated to the United States, which represents nearly 14 percent of the total Indian migrants in 2017.

UAE is another increasingly important EB-5 investor market with a notable number of EB-5 applicants, thanks to its international migrant population, which makes up majority of its population. The importance of this EB-5 investor market will likely be strengthened given its high percentage of migrants from India. The data published in the IIUSA report explains the reasons for recent growth of the UAE market and its potential for further growth. Firstly, there are a large number of HNWIs among the UAE population. While there was a minor decline in the absolute number of HNWI since 2014, Dubai had the world’s fourth highest inflows of HNWI in 2017, with an estimated 2,000 or more HNWIs having migrated to Dubai in that year, according to the IIUSA report, which cited Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2017. UAE’s population is extremely international, with 88 percent originating from foreign countries. Of the total international migrants in UAE as of 2017, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Philippines, and Indonesia are the countries of origin that represented most of the migrants, accounting for 84 percent of UAE’s international migrant population and nearly 74 percent of its total population. Migrants from India in particular contributed 40 percent of the total international migrant population in UAE. The data report shows that the migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Philippines, and Indonesia, the five countries that accounted for most of UAE’s migrant population behind India, represent the largest number of I-526 filings out of UAE. Given the high percentage of Indian migrants living in UAE, and a growing interest in EB-5 program among Indian investors, it is likely that there is growth potential of the EB-5 investor market in UAE and future opportunities to raise EB-5 capital in this market.

With the growing number of Indian-born EB-5 applicants in recent years, Charles Oppenheim, chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, indicated at an EB-5 Industry Conference on April 23, 2018, that EB-5 visa backlogs for Indian nationals will likely be introduced no later than June 2019, and likely earlier. With the introduction of the visa backlog/retrogression, Indian-born investors would face unspecified wait times (the specifics will be known once it has been published in the monthly visa bulletin) after the I-526 approval before they can proceed with the conditional green card process, through either adjustment of status within the United States or consular processing outside the United States. This would mean that the Indian investors whose I-526 approvals take place after the introduction of the visa backlog will no longer be able to proceed with their green card process immediately. For those who are currently in the United States on F-1 and H-1B visas, they will need to maintain valid status in the United States or depart from the United States while waiting on their priority date to become current. It remains to be seen how the visa backlog will affect the Indian EB-5 market.