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  • Quebec Immigration Investor Program Will Re-Open September 10th, 2018

    by Mulaho Hassan | Aug 21, 2018

    Quebec's Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion announced that the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) will be re-open from September 10th, 2018 until March 15th, 201​9.  The maximum number of applications that will be accepted during this period is 1,900. 

    In order to qualify for the program, the applicant must have: 

    • At least two years of management experience during the five years preceding the application;
    • A legally-accumulated net worth in excess of CAD $2,000,000; and
    • The intention to reside in the Province of Quebec and commit to investing CAD$1,200,000. 

    Financing is available and, at current rates, the cost to the client will be CAD$350,000. Any applicant who demonstrates an intermediate ability in French, ​may submit their application at any time until March 31, 2019 and will receive priority processing.  

    For more information regarding the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, please contact our offices directly.
  • USCIS Changes Form I-829 Receipt Location

    by Matt Galati | Aug 13, 2018

    On August 13, USCIS announced that Form I-829 must now be filed at the Texas Lockbox (where Form I-526 is filed) as opposed to its historical destination at the California Service Center:

    On Aug. 13, USCIS changed the filing location for Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. This form was previously filed at the California Service Center. Now, petitioners must send Form I-829 to a USCIS Lockbox facility. However, the Immigrant Investor Program Office continues to be the adjudicating office. When filing at a Lockbox facility, petitioners have the option to pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. Please follow the Where to File and Filing Fee directions on the I-829 page. 

    Investors must ensure that their Form I-829 is appropriately filed within 90 days of the expiry of Conditional Permanent Residency, lest they face grave consequences including becoming subject to deportation.  The lawyers at Green and Spiegel have considerable I-829 experience, including the drafting of Condition Removal Templates, investor representation in problematic cases, and even representation in removal proceedings. 

    Contact us today for more information regarding Form I-829 adjudications and processes. 

  • Lawsuit Filed to Relieve EB-5 Quota of Derivatives

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 13, 2018

    On July 25, 2018, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Feng Wang, et al. v Michael R. Pompeo) that fundamentally challenges the way that the federal government counts spouses and children when determining the annual limits for the EB-5 immigrant visa category. Under present law, EB-5 admissions are limited to approximately 10,000 per year, including not only investors but also their spouses and minor children. While relegated to the context of the EB-5, the lawsuit has the potential to significantly reshape legal immigration across a wide range of categories.

    The suit directly challenges the Department of State’s interpretation of EB-5 visa allocation, which effectively reduces the number that can be issued to investors each year. Specifically, it alleges that the Immigration and Naturalization Act’s plain language requires that approximately 10,000 visas be made to investors each year, the Department wrongfully counts the spouses and children of investors against the annual visa allotment set. The complaint cites Congressional proceedings supporting legislative intent that these family members should not be counted against the visa limit.

    Under present interpretation, substantially more than half of the annual allotment of EB-5 visa numbers are exhausted on the spouses and children of investors, rather than investors themselves. Per the Cato Institute), in Fiscal Year 2017 by counting spouses and children against the EB-5 limit of about 10,000 green cards, the State Department has effectively reduced the quota for investors by almost two thirds. Rather than the full 10,000 going to investors, the government provided green cards to only about 3,500 investors. This issue is especially acute with Vietnamese families (the second-largest source of EB-5 petitions in the world) where family sizes tend to be relatively large.

    The Plaintiffs allege that the Department of State’s “Counting Policy” unlawfully erodes the number of visas available for actual investors, prolongs waits, separates immigrant families, and undermines investments into the U.S. economy and workforce.

    Indeed, given the massive gap between those whose EB-5 petitions have been approve and those whose Immigrant Visas have actually been processed, significant backlogs have been created. Of particular concern in the suit is the effect that these backlogs that have for the separation of families in the form of children of investors having face the harsh reality that they risk becoming ineligible when they reach 21 and “age-out” of the process.

    Certain countries feel the pain of these backlogs more than others. Take for example, the waiting time for someone born in Mainland China. As a result of the policy, otherwise-qualifying Chinese immigrant investors in 2018 have to wait an estimated 15 years to receive their permanent residence. Many EB-5 applicants have already had their children age out, and this number stands to increase in the years to come. The lawsuit seeks to protect the remaining children from losing their opportunity to immigrate with their parents.

    Notably, the Court’s decision could apply with equal force to other preference categories—in both the family and employment-context—with a potential outcome that could solve the problem of unworkable waiting times for Green Cards. However, the immigration community will have to wait and see with bated breath as to what the D.C. District Court determines, as well as any further decisions upon appeal.

    Contact us today for more information relating to your family’s immigration through investment in the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

  • President Signs KIWI Act Providing E-1/E-2 Eligibility for New Zealand Nationals

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 13, 2018

    On August 1, 2018, the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act, or the KIWI Act, having already passed both the US House of Representatives and the Senate, was signed by the president and became law. This is a most welcome development for the business community of New Zealand as the KIWI Act will now permit citizens of New Zealand to apply for U.S. E-1 visas (Treaty Trader Visas) and E-2 visas (Treaty Investor Visas). 

    The E-1 Visa is designed for New Zealand owned, U.S.-based businesses carrying on substantial and continuous trade with New Zealand, while the E-2 Visa is applicable to New Zealand owned, U.S.-based companies that have invested a substantial amount of qualifying funds in establishing the U.S. business entity.  This new accessibility to E-1 and E-2 visas will be very useful for: 1) Companies already operating in the United States that are owned by New Zealand Nationals; 2) New Zealand-based companies seeking to expand to the United States market; and 3) Individual entrepreneurs seeking to establish a New Zealand-owned business in the United States. 

    Green and Spiegel has a dedicated E Visa unit and maintains decades of experience in processing E-1 and E-2 visas.  If you are a New Zealand national interested in obtaining a business trade or investor U.S. visa, contact us today to talk about your options.
  • The Latest Fact-Finding Trip to Grenada

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 03, 2018

    We have discussed at length how the acquisition of Grenadian citizenship through investment (CBI) can uniquely unlock the ability to apply for an E-2 nonimmigrant investor visa without lengthy naturalization requirements. A few months ago, I published an article in EB-5 Investors Magazine with a leading Grenadian attorney detailing both programs’ requirements. This week I returned from a due diligence trip to Grenada. During this time, I had the pleasure of meeting with several high-ranking government officials in the capital city of St. George’s, Grenadian government officials stationed abroad, and project principals. Here are some of my most notable takeaways:

    1.   Above all else, Grenada’s CBI Committee values the integrity of its program. During my trip, I was fortunate to be able to meet with a senior CBI official, who candidly offered valuable insights to the program. The official noted the importance of due diligence on its potential citizens, a responsibility it shares with licensed marketing agents. The country performs a comprehensive background check on all CBI applicants, which includes reporting from international intelligence agencies. Adjudicators have access to applicants’ previous visa denials to third countries (including the U.S.) as well as the basis of those denials. Applicants must accordingly be truthful and forthcoming in their application materials, as fraudulent answers will lead to CBI denial. Grenadian CBI is, accordingly, not a means for unscrupulous individuals to abscond from justice, and of course not a means to evade other countries’ immigration laws.

    This week, Prime Minister The Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell called for the creation of a pan-Caribbean due diligence regime to ensure that CBI applicants across the region are appropriately vetted.  With each CBI applicant requiring approval by his Cabinet, this commitment to program integrity is pervasive throughout the Grenadian government.

    2.   The Grenadian passport is, in and of itself, a valuable asset. Although we have mentioned this before, it bears repeating that Grenadian citizenship has its own benefits independent of the E-2 visa option. This necessarily includes domicile in a country with universal healthcare, boasting a flagship university that ranks fourth in supplying U.S. doctors. The Grenadian passport allows for visa-free entries to the Schengen Zone, the U.K., Ireland, P.R. China, Russia, Korea, and most of South America. This is a critical benefit for travelers that otherwise possess relatively weak passports requiring visas, often limited to single-entry, and subject to the often unpredictable discretionary decisions of consular officials.

    3.   The Grenadian CBI market offers a wide variety of options. One can immigrate to Grenada through a donation to the country’s National Transformation Fund (NTF), a significant investment that creates positive economic impact per the country’s regulations, or an approved real estate project. This latter category offers a relatively diverse portfolio of potential projects. Unlike Regional Center EB-5 or the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, there is no one prevailing investment model. During my tour, I met with principals offering investment opportunities such as the fractional purchase of condominiums, shares in hotel room offerings, freehold (fee simple) real estate purchases, and even agricultural ventures. Rather than a one-size-fits-all kind of approach, investors are much more likely to be drawn to a particular project offering that could be equipped to meeting their unique investment and/or residency objectives.

    4.   The government is committed to streamlining the CBI process. As discussed above, Grenadian CBI officials are focused on extensive investor due diligence, which has inflated processing times to 4-6 months, start to finish. However, the committee states it is dedicated to bringing processing times down and implementing reforms to do just that. Even at the status quo, these processing times are relatively fast compared to programs such as EB-5, and are significantly more predictable.

    5.   Grenada is a shockingly beautiful country. Grenada’s famed Grand Anse Beach is among the most beautiful in the world. The geography includes mountainous terrain akin to many Mediterranean islands, with a biodiversity comparable to the Vietnamese countryside. Lemongrass and mango trees are pervasive, while the country’s ubiquitous “flambo” trees (Delonix regia) provide vibrant red highlights to an impressive thick green landscape of tropical flora.

    Disclaimer: The foregoing information is not intended to be legal advice. Green and Spiegel International Inc. operates as a licensed subagent to several Grenadian CBI marketing agents.  For specific information regarding the Grenadian CBI program, or for legal advice regarding U.S. / Canadian visa options, please contact us today.

    Matt in Grenada  

    Green and Spiegel attorney Matthew T. Galati meets with Grenada Minister of Foreign Affairs ,The Hon. Peter David

  • Major Developments for the Israeli E-2 Visa

    by Matt Galati | Jun 25, 2018

    After years of fits and starts, Israeli media is now widely reporting that the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee has approved its long-anticipated reciprocal immigration regulations, which was ostensibly the final legal roadblock in allowing American and Israeli Investors opportunity to apply for each other’s investment visas. The news was published in major national media including Globes and The Marker.

    As we explained previously, the Israeli E-2 visa rises from June 2012 legislation signed by then-President Obama which implemented a bilateral investment treaty with Israel. The terms of the implementation required the Israeli government to provide reciprocal immigration status for American investors seeking immigration status in Israel. The Knesset did not approve the reciprocal agreement until August 2014, paving the way for Americans to acquire the Israeli B-5 visa. Despite optimism that the visas would be available to both countries’ investors in early 2017, delays have plagued the rollout process.

    Nevertheless, this month’s positive developments reflect major administrative progress and we are cautiously optimistic that the E-2 nonimmigrant investor visa will soon become available to Israeli nationals. Favored around the world, many technology companies, multinational businesses, and startups have leveraged the E-2 to bring talent to the U.S.  

    We are delighted to offer prospective Israeli E-2 investors and companies a complementary consultation regarding this new opportunity. Contact us today to schedule a time to speak with an experienced member of our team.

  • Green and Spiegel’s Jonathan Grode Named Distinguished Leader by The Legal Intelligencer

    by Mulaho Hassan | Jun 22, 2018

    The oldest daily law journal in the United States, The Legal Intelligencer, has named Green and Spiegel LLC’s U.S. Practice Director Jonathan Grode as a 2018 Distinguished Leader. He will be honored at a ceremony before the Pennsylvania legal community at Philadelphia’s famed Crystal Tea Room on June 27, 2018.

    Each year, The Legal Intelligencer selects Pennsylvania law firm leaders that have “achieved impressive results in the past year and demonstrated clear leadership skills that helped them achieve those results.” Across the entire Commonwealth, Grode was only one of five law firm leaders selected.

    “We are extremely proud of Jonathan,” said Managing Partner Evan Green. “When the firm was looking to expand to the United States six years ago, we knew our firm could make a positive difference, but we had no idea how successful the United States practice would become.  We couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out with Jonathan at the helm.”

    Grode has practiced immigration law since 2009, although he boasts nearly twenty years of professional experience in the field. Notable victories in his legal career include securing U.S. residency for the Assali family, who were stranded outside the United States following the institution of the Travel Ban in January 2017, as well as his work in getting the U.S. State Department to expand the J-1 Visa designation to on-campus accelerators through the InAGrad Program.

    “Jonathan’s direction and leadership is truly outstanding,” said Marc Kaplan, Business Director at Green and Spiegel. “When we first opened our U.S. office in Providence, the two of us were working out of a single small office. In less than six years, we have expanded to twelve attorneys across three offices. He’s made the right hires and found the right clients for sustained success. We look forward to continuing to provide the strongest services to our international clientele under his guidance.”

    Green agrees, noting that the Firm’s reputation has always been among the strongest in Canada, but has quickly risen to become a go-to for clients of all sizes, including Fortune-listed corporations, EB-5 immigrant investors, families seeking reunification, and vulnerable populations in need of humanitarian relief.

    Green and Spiegel was founded in Toronto, Canada in 1962. Although practicing U.S. immigration law since the 1990s, its first U.S. office opened in 2012. Practicing exclusively immigration and nationality law, the firm has offices in Philadelphia, Providence, Rhode Island, and Vail, Colorado.

  • USCIS Changes I-829 Receipt Procedure; Status Now Evidenced For 18 Months Instead of 12

    by Mulaho Hassan | Jun 12, 2018

    USCIS today announced that investors filing Form I-829 to remove their conditions upon residency will now be issued receipt notices evidencing continued status for 18 months past the expiration date of their conditional permanent resident cards. The revised receipt notices will also apply to married couples removing conditions through Form I-751.

    This is a welcome change that will make the condition removal process easier. We have previously reported that Form I-829 processing times are very long and were recently updated to be 29 to 37.5 months. USCIS’ recent Policy Manual update clarified that investors with expired CPR cards may receive ink passport stamps showing ongoing status while Form I-829 is pending.  Taken together, these two developments will significantly alleviate the administrative difficulties associated with long processing times.

    USCIS still has significant work to do, as the relevant immigration laws mandate significantly faster adjudications. Nevertheless, the agency should be applauded for this recent development.

    The lawyers at Green and Spiegel have considerable I-829 experience, including the drafting of Condition Removal Templates, investor representation in problematic cases, and even representation in removal proceedings. Contact us today for more information regarding Form I-829 adjudications and processes. 

  • Matthew Galati Selected to AILA Leadership Positions

    by Mulaho Hassan | Jun 12, 2018

    Green and Spiegel Senior Associate attorney Matthew Galati was recently selected to American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) leadership positions at the local and national levels.

    On May 31, Galati was elected by fellow AILA Philadelphia Chapter members to its Executive Committee. Specifically, Galati will serve during the 2018-19 year as the Chapter’s Treasurer. Galati has held previous positions with the AILA Philadelphia Executive Committee since 2016.

    In June, Galati was named by the AILA President-Elect to the organization’s national Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Committee. As described by AILA, its liaisons and committee members play an integral part in helping AILA achieve its mission to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

    At Green and Spiegel, Galati currently serves as a Senior Associate and head of the Firm’s U.S. Investors and Entrepreneurs Division, dedicated to representing individuals and companies seeking use of foreign investment in the immigration context. He has experience with nearly every aspect of immigration law and focuses the majority of his practice on EB-5-related matters. In addition, Galati regularly represents U.S. in worksite compliance matters and attendant governmental investigations. He also assists foreign nationals of extraordinary ability seek immigration benefits in the U.S.

  • Shocking Report: India EB-2 Backlog Calculated to be 151 Years

    by Mulaho Hassan | Jun 11, 2018

    On June 8, author David Bier of the Cato Institute published a sobering analysis of the employment-based Green Card backlogs for India-born beneficiaries:

    As of April 20, 2018, there were 632,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses and minor children waiting for green cards. The shortest wait is for [EB-1 visas]. The[se] immigrants from India will have to wait “only” six years. EB-3 immigrants—those with bachelor’s degrees—will have to wait about 17 years. The biggest backlog is for EB-2 workers who have advanced degrees. At current rates of visa issuances, they will have to wait 151 years for a green card. Obviously, unless the law changes, they will have died or left by that point.

    To put this in perspective, the Republic of India gained its independence from the United Kingdom only 71 years ago. EB-2 applicants filing today would have to wait over twice as long as the entire history of Indian independence!

    Because current immigration policy counts spouses and children towards preference category allocation, the report notes that over 430,000 India-chargeable applicants are waiting for their EB-2 priority dates to become current.  Based on worldwide demand and per country caps, only 13% of all available EB-2 visas were issued to Indians in 2017. The report notes that EB-2 demand this year is higher, however, throttling advancement in the “Green Card queue” even more.

    Truth be told, no one knows exactly how long wait times will be. Bier himself notes a few caveats with his analysis, such that Indian EB-2 applicants may soon downgrade to EB-3 (the opposite of what was happening a few years ago), and many may give up on U.S. immigration. Indeed, many applicants might consider immigrating elsewhere, such as to Canada; a “substitution effect” of sorts. Some of the petitions may also be duplicates.

    Additional caveats not mentioned in the article that would shorten the wait are that many children will “age out” and thus not be eligible to immigrate as derivatives of their parents, and certain beneficiaries may marry individuals born elsewhere and thus avail themselves of cross-chargeability. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the wait times for Indian-born applicants in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories are prohibitively long to be practical.

    Without significant changes in the law or policy, perhaps the only solutions are immigrating through EB-1 (for the few who have the work histories or accolades to qualify) or EB-5 (for those who have the capital to invest). Regarding the latter, join us on June 19 for an informative webinar regarding EB-5 for Indian investors. We also invite you to contact us today with your inquiries regarding immigration to the U.S. or Canada.