On March 21, Congressional leaders released a 2232 page, $1.3 trillion dollar Omnibus Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2018 with language extending the EB-5 program until Sept. 30, 2018.
SEC. 204. Section 610(b) of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (8 U.S.C. 1153 note) shall be applied by substituting ‘‘September 30, 2018’’ for ‘‘September 30, 2015’’. (p. 1759)
On March 22, the House approved the bill by a vote of 256-167. The bill will proceed to the Senate for consideration against the current extension deadline of midnight tonight.
Please follow our blog for more information on the Omnibus and other related matters.
On March 14, USCIS released an Inspector General’s report on Green Card Processing Times. The report found that green card processing times exceeded the existing 120-day goal by taking an average of 282 days to complete. The report identified processing times are greatly affected by interviews and vetting occurring at USCIS.
The report made two specific recommendations which USCIS concurred:
Recommendation 1: Implement plans to present information on the USCIS website that more accurately reflects the length of the adjudication process for green card applications, so the website information is clear and helpful to stakeholders.
Recommendation 2: Reassess the current green card application processing time goal of 120 days to determine whether it is reasonable and realistic and increase the timeframe if necessary.
OIG Analysis: We consider USCIS’ planned actions responsive to the recommendation, which is resolved and open. We will close this recommendation upon receiving USCIS’ decision regarding any changes to the goal for processing green card applications and the rationale behind the decision, including analysis of the newly calculated processing times.
GT hosted a Washington, D.C. reception of the National Immigration Forum (NIF) on “What Drives The Immigration Debate: A Conversation.” Welcoming remarks were made by Eddie Aldrete, Senior Vice President, IBC Bank, and Board Chair of the National Immigration Forum that recognized Laura Reiff, immediate past Chairman of the NIF, for her former and continued service and support of NIF.
FINRA recently issued Notice to Members 17-42, which proposes sweeping changes to the process by which a securities broker may seek to expunge reference to a customer complaint from his or her public record. The comment period for the proposed rule amendments ended on Feb. 5, 2018. The proposed changes will now to go the SEC for review and approval. The proposal, if approved, would result in a major overhaul of the expungement process, and, as FINRA acknowledges, will likely increase the cost and the difficulty for brokers making expungement requests. Industry participants may wish to comment to the SEC before the proposal is approved.
Key provisions of the proposed rule amendments include:
- Brokers making a request for expungement must pay a minimum filing fee of $1,450;
- Requests for expungement must be filed within one year of the closing of a customer arbitration case, or from the closing of a customer complaint (if no arbitration case was filed);
- Requests for expungement relief must be filed not against the customer who initiated the complaint (as in current practice), but against the firm which employed the broker at the time the complaint was made, and firms will be assessed a member surcharge and a processing fee (thus increasing the costs for both brokers and firms when expungement relief is sought);
- Unless a request for expungement relief is decided in an existing arbitration case, all such requests must be heard by a panel of special arbitrators who must (1) be qualified as public chairpersons, (2) have completed enhanced expungement training; (3) be admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction; and (4) have at least five years’ experience in litigation, federal or state securities regulation, administrative law, service as a securities regulator, or service as a judge. This is true even if a broker makes a proper request for expungement relief during the course of an arbitration, litigates the case before a properly-constituted panel for an extended period of time and then settles the matter on the eve of the arbitration hearing; in such instances the broker will be required to file an entirely separate action, subject to an entirely different set of rules.
- Brokers must appear at an expungement hearing in person or by videoconference, and such hearings may no longer be conducted telephonically.
- Decisions of the arbitration panel on requests for expungement must be unanimous.
For a more detailed analysis of the proposed rule amendments, please see the GT Alert, “FINRA Plans Major Changes to Rules Governing the Expungement of Customer Complaint Information.”
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 2018.
After extended debate, the U.S. Senate set-aside the House-passed Continuing Resolution (CR) and negotiated and passed a CR funding government and programs, including EB-5, until March 23, coupled with a sweeping 2-year budget agreement for FY 18 and FY 19. The extended debate exceeded the previous CR time extension of midnight Feb. 8, which resulted in a lapse of Appropriations or government shut-down.
Tonight, by a vote of 245-182, the House approved it’s version of the 5th Continuing Resolution (CR), funding government operations and extending government programs, such as EB-5, until March 23. The bill now proceeds to the Senate for further consideration.
As of this writing, it is expected that the Senate will continue overall budget negotiations and vote when consensus is reached. It is further expected that Congress will reach consensus and pass a CR prior to the expiration of the current CR (Feb. 8), thereby avoiding any interruptions of government operations and programs.
Tonight, House Appropriations Chairman, Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), filed a fifth short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) extending government funding and important programs, such as EB-5, from Feb. 8 until March 23. After late-night Conference meetings, House Republicans developed the framework and timing of the CR. The CR is expected to be acted upon by the House later this week.
House action will start the process for the newest CR.
Please subscribe to our blog for more updates on the CR and other matters.
A business coalition and many of its members continues to work for passage of a permanent bipartisan legislation solution for Dreamers living, working, and contributing to our economy. https://www.coalitionfortheamericandream.us/. More than 100 CEOs of businesses from across the industry spectrum and across the United States are represented in this effort.
The economics of DACA to the U.S. economy have been well-documented, most recently by the American Action Forum. The findings are below:
- New AAF research finds that DACA recipients contribute, on net, roughly $3.4 billion annually to the federal balance sheet.
- Previous AAF research found that DACA recipients currently contribute nearly $42 billion to the annual U.S. GDP, with an average economic contribution of $109,00 per worker.
- Previous AAF research further found that physically removing all DACA recipients would cost between $7 billion and $21 billion and reduce U.S. GDP by 0.4 percent.
Read more here.
Business immigration issues are at the forefront of matters before the U.S. Congress. Please contact Laura Reiff and or Bob Maples if your business would like to join DACA advocacy or to discuss any other business immigration/workforce matters of interest.
Travelers continue to experience heightened scrutiny at U.S. Ports of Entry. Whether the travel is for business or pleasure, travelers often carry an electronic device such as a cell phone or laptop. The current administration’s focus on border security has made travelers increasingly concerned about how to protect personal and corporate data contained on electronic devices.