June 2014

In February 2014, USCIS hosted a telephonic meeting with EB-5 stakeholders regarding the EB-5 program. During that call, USCIS estimated an average processing time of 12 months for I-924 applications. As of June 2014, the pendency period has increased, and we are now seeing a longer window of approximately 12-15 months. However, Mr. Nicholas Colucci, the new chief of the USCIS EB-5 Program Office, is optimistic and determined to grow the EB-5 office and employ several dozen additional economists and adjudicators to expedite the adjudication process. Notably, Regional Centers should keep a few notes in mind when filing their I-924 applications. Regional Centers should file a proper and comprehensive I-924 Application because it minimizes the chance of an RFE or NOID, thereby allowing for a quicker approval.

Continue Reading Processing Improvements in I-924 Adjudication

GT EB-5 Team
Greenberg Traurig’s EB-5 Team

Last week, members of Greenberg Traurig’s growing EB-5 team held a strategic meeting in Chicago. The group included more than two dozen attorneys from the firm’s Business Immigration & Compliance, Corporate & Securities and Real Estate practices representing ten Greenberg Traurig offices, including Boca Raton, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Jersey, New York, Orange County and Philadelphia.

Continue Reading Greenberg Traurig’s Growing EB-5 Team Holds Strategic Meeting in Chicago

Once an EB-5 investor receives permanent residency (whether conditional or unconditional), they must follow certain rules and regulations to ensure they do not lose their permanent residency, including physical presence requirements. Additionally, if an EB-5 investor desires to obtain U.S. citizenship, he or she must meet certain residence and physical present requirements.

In order to maintain permanent residency, an EB-5 investor should not remain physically outside of the United States for more than one year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However, in determining whether an EB-5 investor has abandoned his or her status, USCIS may consider any length of absence from the United States, even if less than one year. If an EB-5 investor secures a reentry permit, he or she should not remain physically outside of the United States for more than two years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa. EB-5 investors also should file their income tax returns in a timely fashion and make sure not to declare themselves a “non-immigrant” on such income tax returns. Lastly, USCIS will attempt to ascertain the intent of an EB-5 investor if it is inquiring about whether or not the EB-5 investor has abandoned his or her permanent residency. An EB-5 investor can take certain steps, including, without limitation, holding property within the United States; establishing personal connections with family, friends and other members of the community in which the EB-5 investor resides; ensuring employment can be completed remotely from the United States or does not require significant time spent abroad; and always declaring themselves to be a permanent resident of the United States and listing his or her permanent address as the United States on any government form, whether for the United States or another country, to demonstrate to USCIS the requisite intent to remain a permanent resident.

Continue Reading Residency Requirements for Green Card Maintenance and Naturalization

USCIS recently reported faster processing times of I-924 Applications for Regional Center Designation and the number of approved regional centers are currently at an all-time high, and both factors correlate to more I-924 Applications being submitted to and processed by USCIS than ever before. As a result, we have noticed certain trends that have developed demonstrating common issues that arise when submitting the I-924 Application for approval by USCIS. The following is an analysis of what we believe are the top five issues that arise, through the form of a Request for Evidence (RFE) sent back to the applicant from USCIS, when adjudicating the I-924 Application.
Continue Reading Top Five Issues in Analyzing I-924 Requests for Evidence

After finally being issued a Green Card, the last thing any Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States would want is to lose his / her permanent residency status. It is important that LPRs understand certain requirements they must fulfill in order to maintain this status. Other than obeying all of the laws of the United States and filing income tax returns there, LPRs must take steps to ensure they are not risking abandonment of their permanent residency status. In order to do this, it is essential that LPRs spend at least 180 days each year in the United States. But what specifically is the “United States”?

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101 (a) (38): the term “United States,” except as otherwise specifically herein provided, when used in a geographical sense, means the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Therefore, LPRs could spend time in the continental United States or any of the U.S. commonwealths to fulfill their residency requirements. This definition may be particularly interesting for LPRs who face a 7,136 mile, eleven hour long flight from China to the continental United States.

Continue Reading Fulfilling U.S. Residency Requirements a Bit Closer to Home: Saipan an Option for EB-5 Investors

In a welcome bit of news for the EB-5 industry, USCIS released updated processing times dated as of April 30, 2014 which show USCIS is processing I-924 applications in approximately 4.4 months. Earlier this year, the processing of I-924 applications was moved to the new Immigrant Investor Program Office (IIPO) in Washington D.C. The new EB-5 Program Director Nicholas Colucci oversaw this transition and, during the February 2014 USCIS EB-5 Public Engagement, expressed optimism that the move to the IIPO and ramp-up of new staff at the IIPO would lead to shorter processing times. This new announcement by USCIS appears to be the fruits of that labor by Mr. Colucci and the IIPO and is significantly less than the most recent processing time reports, which pegged the I-924 application processing time at approximately 12 months.

Continue Reading I-924 Processing Times Reduced to 4 Months