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CHINA EB-5 VISAS UNAVAILABLE FOR THE REST OF FY2014

 

EB-5, PERMANENT RESIDENCY,INVESTMENTCharles Oppenheim, U.S. Department of State, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control announced that the China Employment Fifth (EB-5) preference category has become "Unavailable" for the remainder of the FY-2014 because the maximum number of visas allocated ot chinese nationals has been reached.  

However, all China EB-5 applicants who have been scheduled for interview at an overseas post based on the original establishment of the August and September cut-off dates would have been allotted visa numbers for potential use by their case. Such applicants will not be impacted by the "Unavailability" of the China EB-5 category for the remainder of FY-2014.

In this context, "Unavailable" means that no additional numbers are available for "comeback" cases originally scheduled for interview in an earlier month who are just now returning, or for those first requesting an interview. The only exception would be if a post had "otherwise unused" numbers available, because applicants either failed to appear or failed to overcome a refusal during the month (i.e., August or September) of originally scheduled interview.

USCIS offices may continue to accept and process China Employment Fifth preference cases and submit them in the normal manner. However, instead of being acted upon immediately, those cases will be held in the Visa Office's "Pending Demand" file until October 1, 2014. At that time, all eligible cases will be automatically authorized from the "Pending Demand" file under the FY-2015 annual numerical limitation. Each USCIS requesting office will receive an e-mail notification of such authorizations, which will be effective immediately.

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EB-5: USCIS continues to recognize RIMS II for Indirect Job Creation

 

EB-5, Investor visa, investor green cardOn June 19, 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) issued a docs/bea report.pdf announcing its plan to eliminate its Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II) economic model. That model has been specifically approved by USCIS and RIMS II reports have been heavily relied upon by a majority of EB-5 investors and Regional Centers in filing their EB5 applications.

This announcement has left many in the EB5 arena wondering what type of evidence of job creation would BEA start accepting and whether USCIS would continue ot accept RIMS II modeling. 

On July 3, 2014, the BEA announced its "plans to release in 2015 a modified economic model to replace the original" RIMS II model.

Former BEA economist, John Barrett of Performance Economics LLC told David Morris, Chair of the AILA/EB-5 Committee summarized the BEA News as follows:

  • No change in the methodology of the USCIS approved benchmark series of multipliers;
  • Benchmark series now based on the 406-industry 2007 benchmark I/O table instead of 2002, an improvement;
  • USCIS should continue to take a positive view of RIMS II, as they have in the past.

According to Barrett, “Given this announcement by BEA, there is no reason why USCIS wouldn’t continue to recognize RIMS II as a ‘verifiable methodology'".  The Benchmark Series multipliers will be produced exactly as they have in the past and therefore USCIS would be hard pressed to find a reason to reverse itself on past recognition granted RIMS II.”

If your EB5 application is through a Regional Center you must make sure that if the project is relying on indirect job creation reports that these reports continue to be valid and make sure that the reports have been approved by a qualified econoomist as to the impact of the RIMS II changes.

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Green Card DV Lottery-2015 Entrants? Check If You have Won!

 

 Diversity Visa Lottery Scams, Diversity Visa Program, Diversity Visa Lottery, Green Card Lottery, green card, Green CardThe Kentucky Consular Center in Kentucky has registered and notified the winners of the DV-2015 diversity lottery.  The diversity lottery makes available *50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  Approximately 125,514 applicants have been registered and notified and may now make an application for an immigrant visa. Since it is likely that some of the first *50,000 persons registered will not pursue their cases to visa issuance, this larger figure should insure that all DV-2015 numbers will be used during fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 until September 30, 2015).

Applicants registered for the DV-2015 program were selected at random from 9,388,986 qualified entries (14,397,781 with derivatives) received during the 30-day application period that ran from noon, Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, until noon, Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, November 2, 2013.  The visas have been apportioned among six geographic regions with a maximum of seven percent available to persons born in any single country. 

For July, immigrant numbers in the DV category are available to qualified DV-2014 applicants chargeable to all regions/eligible countries as follows. When an allocation cut-off number is shown, visas are available only for applicants with DV regional lottery rank numbers BELOW the specified allocation cut-off number:

RegionAll DV Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed Separately 
AFRICA 56,300 Except:
Egypt:      30,900
Nigeria:     17,400
ASIA 8,900  
EUROPE 36,300  
NORTH AMERICA (BAHAMAS) CURRENT  
OCEANIA 1,300  
SOUTH AMERICA,
and the CARIBBEAN
1,550  

During the visa interview, principal applicants must provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent, or show two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years.  Those selected will need to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly.  Applicants should follow the instructions in their notification letter and must fully complete the information requested.

Registrants living legally in the United States may apply for adjustment of their status through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.  Once the total *50,000 visa numbers have been used, the program for fiscal year 2015 will end.  Selected applicants who do not receive visas by September 30, 2015 will derive no further benefit from their DV-2015 registration.  Similarly, spouses and children accompanying or following to join DV-2015 principal applicants are only entitled to derivative diversity visa status until September 30, 2015.

Dates for the DV-2016 program registration period will be widely publicized in the coming months.  Those interested in entering the DV-2016 program should check the Department of State’s Visa web page in the coming months. To read a great article on winning the Diversity Visa Lottery go to http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/03/18/what-is-it-like-to-win-the-diversity-visa-lottery/



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Department of State Release the June 2014 Visa Bulletin

 

 Visa Bulletin, visa bulletin, Diversity Visa Program, US ImmigrationThe State Department has released the Visa Bulletin for June 2014. http://www.immigrationbn.com/Portals/52046/docs/visa bulletin.pdf  The cut-off date for all family-based F-2A categories (for spouses and (unmarried, minor) children of lawful permanent residents retrogressed by more than a year for all countries. Unexpected and dramatic increase in demand in the employment-based third and "other worker" categories also resulted in retrogression in those categories, except for the Philippines. Hardest impacted is the EB-3 China category which retrogressed by 6 years from October 1, 2012 to October 1, 2006.  The "other worker" China category retrogressed from October 1, 2012 to January 1, 2003. A notice regarding the 2015 Diversity Visa Lottery winners is also included.

RETROGRESSION OF JUNE CUT-OFF DATES

WORLDWIDE F2A: 
The cut-off date for the Family F2A category was advanced at a very rapid pace during fiscal year 2013 in an effort to generate demand to use all numbers available under the annual limit. Department of State says that "[t]hose movements have resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of applicant demand being received during the past seven months. This has required the retrogression of the Family F2A cut-off date for June in an effort to hold number use within the annual numerical limit". Further retrogression cannot be ruled out should demand by applicants with very early priority dates continue to increase.

MEXICO F2A:  
Despite a previous retrogression, the level of demand has remained excessive, resulting in a further retrogression of this cut-off date to hold number use within the annual limit. 

Employment Third, and Third Other Workers:
The unexpected and dramatic increase in demand being received from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Offices during the past several months has resulted in number use approaching the annual limit for this category. As a result, it has been necessary to retrogress the Worldwide, China, and Mexico cut-off dates for the month of June.

It is important ot note that the dates in the Visa Bulletin can often be misleading. Some dates, particularly in the Employment Based Categories, are “current” now, but may backlog before you collect your documents to file the adjustment of status application.  On the other hand, particularly in the Family Based Categories, look closer on the Bulletin than they are in reality.

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Employment Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders?

 

H1_B, DHS, USCIS H-4Today May , 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the publication of two proposed rules, including a rule to extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers, and a proposal to enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly-skilled workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States. It is hoped that Together these actions will help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world.

“The proposed rules announced today provide important support to U.S. businesses while also supporting economic growth here in the U.S.,” said Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

“These steps will help the U.S. maintain competitiveness with other countries in our efforts to attract the best and the brightest high-skilled workers from around the world to support companies here at home. Businesses continue to need these high-skilled workers, and these rules ensure we do not cede the upper hand to other countries competing for the same talent.”

“These two proposed rule changes are an integral part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation, and to help the United States attract and retain highly skilled immigrants,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The fact is, we must do more to retain and attract world-class talent to the United States and these regulations put us on a path to doing that. These actions promise to unleash more of the extraordinary contributions that immigrants have always made to America’s innovation economy.”

Both Notices of Proposed Rulemaking will soon publish in the Federal Register. DHS encourages the public to comment on the proposed rules through www.regulations.gov.  All public comments will be considered before the final rules are published and go into effect.

Proposed Rule to Extend Employment Authorization to Spouses of Certain H-1B Workers

This proposed rule will amend existing regulations to allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain principal H-1B workers to request employment authorization.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as science, engineering or computer programming.  Frequently, employers will petition for an immigrant visa for an H-1B worker, which enables individuals to become lawful permanent residents.  Lawful permanent residents are generally eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens after five years.

Under existing regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to dependents (also known as H-4 nonimmigrants) of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The change proposed by DHS, would allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B nonimmigrant workers to request employment authorization, as long as the H-1B worker has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment.

Eligible individuals would include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B workers who:

  • Are the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit.

Proposal to Enhance Opportunities for Highly-Skilled Workers
This proposed regulatory change would enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly-skilled and transitional workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States.   

Specifically, the change to the regulation would regulation would:

  • Update the regulations to include nonimmigrant high-skilled specialty occupation professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and from Australia (E-3) in the list of classes of aliens authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer,
  • Clarify that H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants are allowed to work without having to separately apply to DHS for employment authorization. 
  • Allow E-3, H-1B1 and CW-1 nonimmigrant workers up to 240 days of continued work authorization beyond the expiration date noted on their Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, while the extension request is pending.

It would affect workers in specialty occupation nonimmigrant classifications for professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3), as well as Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI)-Only Transitional Workers (CW-1).

Under current regulations, employers of workers in E-3,  H-1B1, or CW-1 status must generally file a petition requesting the extension of the employee’s status well before the initial authorized duration of status expires.

Finally, this proposal would also expand the current list of evidentiary criteria for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers to allow the submission of evidence comparable to the other forms of evidence already listed in the regulations.  This proposal would harmonize the regulations for EB-1 outstanding professors and researchers with other employment-based immigrant categories that already allow for submission of comparable evidence. 

Together these actions will help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world.

“The proposed rules announced today provide important support to U.S. businesses while also supporting economic growth here in the U.S.,” said Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.  “These steps will help the U.S. maintain competitiveness with other countries in our efforts to attract the best and the brightest high-skilled workers from around the world to support companies here at home. Businesses continue to need these high-skilled workers, and these rules ensure we do not cede the upper hand to other countries competing for the same talent.”

“These two proposed rule changes are an integral part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation, and to help the United States attract and retain highly skilled immigrants,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The fact is, we must do more to retain and attract world-class talent to the United States and these regulations put us on a path to doing that. These actions promise to unleash more of the extraordinary contributions that immigrants have always made to America’s innovation economy.”

Both Notices of Proposed Rulemaking will soon publish in the Federal Register. DHS encourages the public to comment on the proposed rules through www.regulations.gov.  All public comments will be considered before the final rules are published and go into effect.

Proposed Rule to Extend Employment Authorization to Spouses of Certain H-1B Workers

This proposed rule will amend existing regulations to allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain principal H-1B workers to request employment authorization.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as science, engineering or computer programming.  Frequently, employers will petition for an immigrant visa for an H-1B worker, which enables individuals to become lawful permanent residents.  Lawful permanent residents are generally eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens after five years.

Under existing regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to dependents (also known as H-4 nonimmigrants) of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The change proposed by DHS, would allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B nonimmigrant workers to request employment authorization, as long as the H-1B worker has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment.

Eligible individuals would include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B workers who:

  • Are the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit.

Proposal to Enhance Opportunities for Highly-Skilled Workers
This proposed regulatory change would enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly-skilled and transitional workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States.   

Specifically, the change to the regulation would regulation would:

  • Update the regulations to include nonimmigrant high-skilled specialty occupation professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and from Australia (E-3) in the list of classes of aliens authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer,
  • Clarify that H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants are allowed to work without having to separately apply to DHS for employment authorization. 
  • Allow E-3, H-1B1 and CW-1 nonimmigrant workers up to 240 days of continued work authorization beyond the expiration date noted on their Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, while the extension request is pending.

It would affect workers in specialty occupation nonimmigrant classifications for professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3), as well as Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI)-Only Transitional Workers (CW-1).

Under current regulations, employers of workers in E-3,  H-1B1, or CW-1 status must generally file a petition requesting the extension of the employee’s status well before the initial authorized duration of status expires.

Finally, this proposal would also expand the current list of evidentiary criteria for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers to allow the submission of evidence comparable to the other forms of evidence already listed in the regulations.  This proposal would harmonize the regulations for EB-1 outstanding professors and researchers with other employment-based immigrant categories that already allow for submission of comparable evidence. 

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USCIS Announces H-1B Lottery

 

H1-B H-1B, USCIS, H1BUSCIS announced on April 7 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.

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USCIS ANNOUNCES H1B CAP REACHED FOR NEW H1B VISAS

 

H1B cap, H1B, H1B visaWASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015.  USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.   

Before running a random selection process, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period which ended today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing. 

The agency will conduct the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2015 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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Immigration Reform? Tell the White House What You Want

 

immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reformRecord your question about immigration reform via Skype on Bing ASAP.  The questions are to be answered by Vice President Biden and the President's Domestic Policy Advisor, Cecelia Munoz Wednesday.  

The  White House put up a site last week giving people the opportunity to Skype questions about immigration law and immigration reform that will then be viewed and addressed by Vice President and the President's Domestic Policy Advisor on Wednesday. So far there are only a couple questions posted.  It is very important that we get the word out about this and have the pro-immigration community post lots of questions so that the White House knows that immigration should be one of their top priorities.

http://www.bing.com/politics/pulse/whitehouse

More about the Bing/Skype video Q&A from the Whitehouse website...

Ask Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz Your Questions About Immigration Reform

Our nation's immigration system is broken – and fixing it is an economic, national security, and moral imperative. That’s why President Obama is deeply committed to working to pass a common sense, comprehensive set of reforms that ensures everyone plays by the same rules. And we want to answer your questions about the issue.

On Wednesday, December 11th, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, are sitting down to answer your questions about immigration reform. During the conversation hosted by Bing and Skype, the Vice President and Cecilia will speak with folks from around the country via live Skype Video Call, answer questions submitted through Skype Video and from social media.

What are your questions about immigration reform? Ask a question by Skype Video Message now and join the conversation on Twitter with #AskTheWhiteHouse, then be sure to tune in live on Wednesday, December 11th at 3:45 p.m. ET atBing.com/WhiteHouse and WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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EB-5 Investment Visas and Indirect Construction Jobs--What you need to know

 

describe the imageLawyers representing EB-5 investors should be aware of the latest USCIS
adjudications trend challenging claims of construction jobs by means of
requiring third-party validation of construction data and regional industry
standards. Immigration lawyers should now ask the Investor's selected Regional
Center to provide such supporting evidence in advance of filing the I-526
petition or in anticipation of the RFE.

Ever since Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec. 206 (Assoc. Comm'r 1998),
USCIS has required the submission of a "comprehensive business plan" in the Form
I-526 filing to clarify the investor's claimed job creation projections. But
recently, the USCIS has expanded its standard requiring a more detailed and
verified analysis of any construction phase jobs.

When a Regional Center project claims a construction period exceeding 24
months, EB5 investors can claim direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from
the construction phase activities and qualified construction expenditures. When
the business plan making such job claims is submitted to the USCIS as part of
the I-526 petition, the agency will apply the following test:

"Because construction will surpass two years, the petitioner must present a business plan with a more detailed and itemized construction timeline showing all relevant phases of the construction effort. The business plan must also provide transparent, objective, and verifiable data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within a reasonable range when compared to industry standards."

In failing to meet this standard with an initial I-526 filing package, the
USCIS will issue an RFE for such records. In response, the Regional Center will
need to supply associated investors with an evidence package that contains
third-party opinions verifying or explaining business plan claims relating to
construction activity and assumptions. These may include following:

  • General Contractor's Detailed Construction Timeline. This
    report breaks down all phases of the build-out, by date and subcontractor
    specialty/trade. The timeline should provide expected start and completion dates
    for each distinct activity.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Timeline. This
    expert opinion assesses the project's construction timeline claim and measures
    the timeline against regional industry norms.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Costs. This expert
    opinion assesses the itemized budget costs and compares them with verifiable
    data, analysis, and industry standards. Reliable construction costs are
    important to the USCIS because these are direct inputs to the economic modeling
    that calculates job creation.

These are just a few examples of how a comprehensive business plan claiming
construction jobs may effectively utilize third-party verification of critical
construction data, budgets, timelines and assumptions to ensure Matter of Ho
compliance. Given the emerging USCIS trend in this area, EB5 lawyers should be
prepared to supply exhibits which contain transparent, objective, and verifiable
data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within
a reasonable range when compared to industry standards. And note that such
third-party construction experts are not in lieu of the Regional Center's
economist calculating the job creation, but are rather in addition to the
economist.

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DOJ Fines IBM for Discriminatory H1-B Hiring Practices

 

H1-B; H1; DOJ, USCISThe Justice Department announced that it reached an agreement yesterday with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) resolving allegations that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it placed online job postings for application and software developers that contained citizenship status preferences for F-1 and H-1B temporary visa holders.  F-1 visas are issued to foreign students studying in the United States, and H-1B visas are issued to foreign nationals with technical expertise in specialized fields.  

Under the INA, employers may not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status unless required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract.  Although IBM’s job postings were for positions that would ultimately require the successful candidate to relocate overseas, the anti-discrimination provision of the INA does not permit employers to express or imply a preference for temporary visa holders over U.S. workers, such as U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, for any employment opportunity in the United States.

 Under the settlement agreement, IBM has agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the United States.  IBM further agreed to revise its hiring and recruiting procedures and train its human resources personnel to ensure compliance with the INA, and to be subject to reporting requirements for a period of two years.

 

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