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  • From Our Archives: “For the Indian-born, Entrepreneurship is the Fastest Way to a Green Card”

    by Matt Galati | May 23, 2018

    Over a year ago, we covered the dysfunctionally-long quota backlogs for Indian-born prospective immigrants in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories with our article For the Indian-born, Entrepreneurship is the Fastest Way to a Green Card.

    Since that time, Indian demand for the EB-5 immigrant investor visa has exploded, even generating significant media attention from national outlets such as CNN and CNBC. Meanwhile, the India EB-1 visa faces light retrogression as more and more prospective immigrants seek classification as Multinational Managers and Executives, nevertheless a much more efficient option than India EB-2 or EB-3, ​which require decades of waiting.

    We are excited to announce that in the coming weeks the Firm will produce a webinar focused on how Indian professionals can seek quota relief under these categories, together with special guests. We will announce the details ​on our blog soon and hope you will join us for this  informative discussion.

  • Galati & Grode Once Again Named as Super Lawyers Rising Stars

    by Matt Galati | May 23, 2018

    Green and Spiegel is pleased to announce that U.S. Practice Director Jonathan Grode and Senior Associate Matthew Galati were once again named as “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers magazine. This year marks the seventh straight selection for Grode, who was first named in 2012. Galati was selected for the third time, having received the honor in 2016 and 2017. Their selections were published in the organization’s May 2018 Pennsylvania and Delaware issue and will also be featured in the June 2018 edition of Philadelphia Magazine.

    The goal of Super Lawyers is to provide a current and comprehensive state-by-state catalog of the most outstanding lawyers as a resource for attorneys and consumers seeking legal counsel. Super Lawyers annually selects attorneys from all firm sizes and over 70 practice areas throughout the United States using a multiphase selection process. This lengthy vetting method includes a combination of independent research alongside peer nominations and evaluations. No more than 5% of attorneys state-wide can be selected as a Super Lawyer, while only 2.5% of attorneys under 40 or practicing law for 10 years or less can be named a Rising Star.

    Grode serves as the Firm’s U.S. Practice Director, managing all operations in the United States and serving as counsel to corporations of all sizes. Galati focuses his practice running the firm’s U.S. Investors and Entrepreneurs Division with a particular emphasis in assisting prospective immigrants and companies navigate the EB-5 visa’s requirements.

    Green and Spiegel is one of North America’s oldest immigration law practices with over 50 years of experience assisting a diverse global clientele and a role as thought leaders on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. The Firm is headquartered in Toronto, Canada with U.S. offices in Philadelphia, PA, Providence, RI, and Vail, CO.

    With a U.S. practice founded in the early 1990s, Green and Spiegel offers a full range of inbound immigration services for employers, temporary workers, individuals and their families. Expanding upon the Firm’s Canadian roots, the U.S. practice represents clients operating in the healthcare, insurance, professional sports, information technology, and many other industries. As a boutique firm, Green and Spiegel also caters to entrepreneurs, investors, and start-ups seeking immigration benefits.

    Web: www.gands.com/us

    Twitter: @GreenSpiegelUS  

  • DHS Postpones Final Action Date on EB-5 Regulations to August 2018

    by Matt Galati | May 09, 2018

    Following attempts by lawmakers to finalize EB-5 regulations last month, the recent release of the Office of Management and Budget Spring 2018 Unified Agenda now estimates the Final Action for sweeping EB-5 regulatory reform to be finalized in August 2018.

    This marks the most recent development in a protracted process that has been seeking finalization since January 2017 when they were released in draft form. As drafted, the regulations would raise the minimum investment amount substantially, as well as curtail present provisions allowing for the liberal designation of Targeted Employment Areas at the state level.

    This proposed date is already ​six months later than the date initially expected for finalization in February 2018.  As we reported previously, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson was urged in a letter from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) to finalize the regulations in April 2018. This letter followed a failed attempt by these lawmakers to enact legislation that would have completely changed the EB-5 program as we know it; and, as we maintained, legislation that would have been not for the better.

    Much remains uncertain. It is still not clear what effect this pressure from lawmakers, or indeed, the many public comments submitted in opposition to the regulations will have on their final form. As DHS has already surpassed one regulatory Final Action date, so too this date may prove to be inaccurate. It is also unclear how long it will take for the reform to take effect whenever the regulations are finalized.

    However, given the likelihood of significant and serious changes to the current regulations, investors considering EB-5 immigration should accordingly act with urgency. Contact our dedicated attorneys today for more information relating to EB-5 immigration.

    Article authored by Catriona Davenport, LLM* Not authorized to practice law.

  • USCIS Provides Important I-829 Policy Update

    by Mulaho Hassan | May 09, 2018

    Earlier this month, USCIS updated the EB-5 section of its Policy Manual with important I-829 Removal of Conditions-related instructions for officers to grant investors evidence of status.

    By way of background, successful EB-5 investors and their families are granted conditional permanent residency for a period of two years. Within 90 days of the expiration of their Green Cards, they must file Form I-829 to remove conditions upon their residency. The regulations provide that upon filing the I-829, residency “shall be extended automatically, if necessary, until such time as [USCIS] has adjudicated the petition.”

    The Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as the regulations, mandate timely adjudication of I-829s. Yet, I-829 processing times are currently published at an absurd 25-30 months. Virtually all applicants therefore will have their conditional Green Cards expire before their I-829s can be adjudicated. This creates a logistical problem for investors and their families who want to travel abroad, apply for a job, or renew a driver’s license.

    The new section to the Policy Manual provides some assistance in this regard:

    D. Extension of Conditional Permanent Residence While Form I-829 is Pending
    USCIS automatically extends the conditional permanent resident status of an immigrant investor and certain dependents for 1 year upon receipt of a properly filed Form I-829.  The receipt notice along with the immigrant’s permanent resident card provides documentation for travel, employment, or other situations in which evidence of conditional permanent resident status is required.

    Within 30 days of the expiration of the automatic 1-year extension, or after expiration, a conditional permanent resident with a pending Form I-829 may take his or her receipt notice to the nearest USCIS field office and receive documentation showing his or her status for travel, employment, or other purposes.

    In such a case, an officer confirms the immigrant’s status and provides the relevant documentation. USCIS continues to extend the conditional permanent resident status until the Form I-829 is adjudicated.

    An immigrant investor whose Form I-829 has been denied may seek review of the denial in removal proceedings. USCIS issues the immigrant a temporary Form I-551 until an order of removal becomes administratively final. An order of removal is administratively final if the decision is not appealed or, if appealed, when the appeal is dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

    USCIS’s updated policy is accordingly a step forward in the right direction. However, as IIUSA points out, significant problems remain regarding the timely and accurate issuance of receipt notices and the availability of INFOPASS appointments where applicants can meet with immigration officers to obtain temporary I-551 (i.e. lawful permanent residency) stamps in their passport.

    We applaud USCIS for this small, but important step in the right direction. Yet there is much to be done to improve Form I-829 processing.  We have previously advocated for reforms, including the introduction of electronic and template-based I-829 processing (akin to an I-829 exemplar process), which would greatly accelerate adjudication timeframes. As the agency works to clear its processing backlog, hopefully it will take these ideas into consideration.

    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. 
  • GREEN AND SPIEGEL’S MATTHEW GALATI CO-AUTHORS ARTICLE FOR EB-5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

    by Mulaho Hassan | May 07, 2018

    Senior Associate Matthew Galati, who leads the Firm’s U.S. Investors and Entrepreneurs Division, recently co-authored an article EB-5 Investors Magazine, discussing the citizenship by investment options in Grenada.  

    The article “A legal analysis of Grenada and the E-2 Visa”, discussed the establishment of the Grenadian citizenship by investment program ​and details the program’s requirements (which can also be found on our website). Grenadian attorney and local agent Sheila Harris co-authored the article with Galati.  

    The article also discusses the benefits of Grenadian passport, notably that it is the only country in the world to offer citizenship by investment and to hold an E-2 treaty with the United States. With the Grenadian passport in hand, an investor unlocks the ability to apply for an E-2 visa, provided all other requirements are met. Independent of this unique benefit, Grenada citizens also enjoy visa-free visitor travel to over 90 countries. There is currently no restriction on any nationality applying for CBI.

    Please click here to read more. To find out more about the Citizenship by Investment Program in Grenada and to assess your qualifications, please contact us to arrange a consultation.

  • Lawmakers Push DHS to Finalize EB-5 Regulations; Investors Race Against the Clock

    by Matt Galati | Apr 06, 2018

    In a letter dated April 5, 2018, addressed to the Department of Homeland Security, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) have urged DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to finalize the sweeping EB-5 regulations that were released in draft form in January 2017.  As drafted, the regulations would raise the minimum investment amount to at least USD $1.3 million, significantly curtail which locations may qualify as a targeted employment area (“TEA”), and centralize the TEA designation process, among other reforms. 

    As we have previously reported, we expected the EB-5 Modernization Rule to have been finalized in February. The letter notes that DHS was “encouraged by both individual Members of Congress and stakeholders to not finalize the proposed regulations, since a potential legislative solution could be imminent.”  Their legislative proposals – which we believe would have crippled the program had they been enacted – failed in mid-March.  As opponents of the status quo, the legislators concede that they “do not foresee a legislative solution in the near term” and accordingly urge the regulations to be implemented without delay. We firmly believe that any legislative changes to the U.S. immigration system should be enacted after significant opportunity for public engagement and Congressional Regular Order.

    Opportunity for public comment to the proposed Rule closed in April 2017. Green and Spiegel submitted a comment in opposition to most of the draft regulatory terms, noting in particular how certain justifications for raising the minimum investment amount were factually inaccurate. Indeed, the vast majority of comments were in opposition to the draft rule for varying reasons. It remains to be seen what effect the public comments will have on the final regulatory text.

    DHS’ sweeping regulatory reform could conceivably be published at any time and put into effect in a matter of weeks or months thereafter. Investors considering EB-5 immigration should accordingly act with urgency as regulatory actions are less subject to the political protections that have prevented ill-conceived legislative efforts to reform the program, and have bolstered American job creation stemming from immigrant investors to all-time highs. Contact us today for more information relating to EB-5 immigration.

  • Mainland Chinese Continue to Dominate Grenadian Citizenship by Investment Program

    by Matt Galati | Apr 06, 2018

    April 6, 2018 - The Chairman of Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Committee has recently revealed that applicants to Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI) are, at the moment, overwhelmingly Chinese nationals.

    In an interview with Investment Migration Insider, Committee Chair Kaisha Ince stated that an incredible 98% of CBI applications this calendar year have originated from Mainland China.

    Grenada’s CBI has also seen an increase in popularity over the last 18 months, with a spike in Asian investor immigrants more generally. Application numbers tripled in the first half of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016. The annual report which provides the statistics of the CBI program in 2017 will published in August 2018. It is estimated that the program has brought in approximately US$150 million in 2017.

    For more information regarding the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program, please contact our offices directly.

  • Retrogression Besets Vietnam – But It’s NOT GOING TO BE AS BAD AS CHINA

    by Matt Galati | Apr 02, 2018

    Vietnam is about to retrogress in EB-5. This is going to cause a disruption in the market. However, know this: It may, for the next few months, look as bad as that for applicants born in the People’s Republic of China (“China”), industry hysteria may seem as bad as China, but know that the wait times are virtually certain to NOT BE AS BAD AS CHINA.

    In June 2017, the USCIS Ombudsman sent shockwaves through the industry by projecting that the wait time for Chinese EB-5 families to receive a Green Card is 10 years or longer. Chinese demand for EB-5 visas thus plummeted, and has not come anywhere close to recovering since. There are ways to mitigate the pain of retrogression, however.

    With Vietnam now approaching its statutory limit on visas per year, some investors are nervous as to how severely retrogression will affect them.

    Visa allocation might be the most complicated topics in immigration law, so allow us to explain the current situation and what to expect, as best we can. In the April 2018 Visa Bulletin, the Department of State said the following:

    DELAY IN OVERSUBSCRIPTION OF THE VIETNAM EMPLOYMENT FIFTH PREFERENCE CATEGORY

    Continued heavy applicant demand had been expected to result in the Vietnam Employment Fifth preference (EB-5) category reaching the per-country annual limit during March. However, the return of unused February EB-5 numbers during the past few days has been much higher than had been expected. This appears to be a direct result of the continuing resolution signed on December 22, 2017 extending the immigrant investor pilot program until January 19, 2018, and the subsequent extension until February 9, 2018.  Uncertainty over category extension greatly delayed the scheduling of February appointments, which would normally have occurred in early January.  As a result, many applicants did not have sufficient advance notice to enable them to appear for their February interview, which could have been expected to result in the use of visa numbers.  

    The oversubscription of this category will definitely occur for May.

    Oversubscription occurs because no more than 7% of any one country may capture any preference visa category’s allocation. When a category is oversubscribed, priority dates retrogress. In the EB-5 context, a priority date is allocated based on the date an I-526 is receipted by the Texas lockbox. Pundits often refer to waiting for a priority date to become current as waiting “in line for a Green Card.”

    We cannot state this enough: Determining overall wait times is extremely complicated and there is likely no one on the planet who knows for sure how long a given wait time will be. Compounding the simple mathematics of a given year’s allocation is that any unused visa numbers in a given category may be put towards backlogged countries or chargeability. Put another way, at present, the total number of EB-5 visa available (approximately 10,000) is larger than the entire world plus Mainland China’s 7% allocation. Therefore, any “extra” visas may be allocated to Chinese applicants in the backlog. But how many visas are available in future years? The numbers of denials, withdrawals, divorces, and even deaths remain a wildcard as to visa availability.

    What does this mean for the Vietnamese investor? While China is the only country backlogged at present, for the rest of the fiscal year (May-September 2018), the “extra” visas described above must be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. The May Visa Bulletin accordingly will pin Chinese and Vietnamese Current priority dates as the same, and this will continue until at least October, when new Vietnamese-only visa allocations are available. Put another way, Vietnamese and Chinese-born visa applicants will be in the same first-in, first out “line” until October. In October, the lines will be separated. The “Vietnamese Line” will almost certainly be shorter, as discussed below.

    Another thing to consider is the effect on visa allocations for the next five months. China’s April Visa Final Action Priority Date is July 22, 2014. Form I-526 processing times are generally not that long and thus virtually all Vietnamese families that filed their petitions before that date already have CPR status. Therefore, because this is a first-in, first-out allocation system, this accordingly means that virtually no EB-5 visas will be available to Vietnamese applicants until October 1, 2018.

    A new allocation of EB-5 visas for Vietnam will become available at the beginning of the new Fiscal Year, or October 1, 2018. This will separate the “lines” for Vietnamese and Chinese chargeable applicants. The big question, accordingly, is what will be the Vietnamese backlog as of this October. It is impossible to say at this point. Thus, families with elder children may be wise to file two petitions instead of one to protect against ageouts. The Child Status Protection Act will protect long I-526 processing times but not the time after approval when one awaits a priority date to become current.

    Nevertheless, we know that because Vietnam is allocated 7% of all EB-5 visas, and because Chinese Applicants were over 80% of EB-5 visas last year  we know that barring some massive, unforeseen surge in visa numbers, simple mathematics dictates that the Vietnamese backlog cannot be as bad as China’s. In fact, in FY2017, Vietnam supplied only 471 (approximately 5%) of all EB-5 visas. It’s unthinkable that numbers surged to reach China levels in such a short period of time.

     With I-526 processing times approaching two years, the question remains as to how long Vietnamese EB-5 applicants will need to wait for their visas after approval. It could be several years. Because priority dates are based on date of filing, and I-526 processing times are increasing, it could also be zero. However, it is a near-certainty that it will be less than the wait for those born in Mainland China, simply because there are many fewer Vietnamese-born applicants in the backlog.

    Take this to heart when you see the May 2018 Visa Bulletin.

  • SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE QUEBEC IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PROGRAM

    by Matt Galati | Mar 28, 2018

    March 28, 2018 - ​The Quebec Government published new regulations related to Quebec’s immigration programs, including the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP). Important changes to the QIIP include the following:

    1. Candidates must have net assets of at least CAD $2,000,000 (previously was $1,600,000);
    2. The required investment amount has increased to CAD $1,200,000 (previously was $800,000).

    It is projected that these regulations will be implemented August 2018. Until that time, Quebec Immigration will not be accepting any new applications. At this point, no information has been released regarding the dates of the intake period or the number of files that will be received by Quebec Immigration. 

    For more information regarding the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program, please contact our offices directly.

  • DOS TERMINATES GOLDEN ARROW PROGRAM IN PARIS FOR ESTABLISHED E-2 COMPANIES

    by User Not Found | Mar 23, 2018

    Effective March 12, 2018, the US Embassy in Paris terminated the “Golden Arrow” program.  The Golden Arrow program was created as a way to expedite the E-2 visa process for critical employees of qualifying, pre-approved French-owned corporations. Typically, these companies are large companies with an established and significant presence in both France and the United States. Through the Golden Arrow program, these companies were able to quickly schedule and obtain E-2 visas for executive, managerial and essential skills positions in the United States, as the program allowed the application to bypass company’s lengthy review process and focus only on the employee.

    The Embassy justified the move by stating that the program “did not significantly decrease processing times for applicants.” However, in the experience of Green and Spiegel, the Golden Arrow significantly reduced processing time for employees of Golden Arrow companies.  Further, without a program like the Golden Arrow program, E-2 registered companies must submit a full E-2 Application every twelve months.  These applications are currently experiencing wait times up to ten weeks.  For employees of E-2 Registered companies that have submitted a full application within the prior twelve months, the wait time is still 3-5 weeks.  At this stage, it is unclear if the Embassy will enact a different policy change to address typically lengthy processing times. Currently, non-“Golden Arrow” applicants can expect to wait up to 10 weeks or more before an interview may be scheduled.

    Starting on March 12th, all applicants, including applicants from current Golden Arrow companies, will need to follow the standard and extensive process of submission and review regarding the ownership, income and overall operations of companies that clearly qualify as E-2 Treaty Investors. It remains to be seen whether other US embassies around the world will follow suit and end similar expedited E-2 registration programs. If you are affected by this program or have questions regarding your status or future application, contact the offices of Green & Spiegel U.S. today.