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  • Why EB-1 and EB-3 Might Not Work as EB-5 Substitutes: Green and Spiegel’s Matthew Galati Co-Authors Chinese-Language Article with CanAm’s Walter Gindin for EB-5 Investors Magazine

    by Mulaho Hassan | Nov 10, 2017

    Manager of Green and Spiegel’s U.S. Investors and Entrepreneurs Division, Matthew Galati recently co-authored an article for EB-5 Investors Magazine, with CanAm Enterprises’ Director, In-house Immigration Counsel, Walter Gindin. The article, published in the Chinese language edition of the magazine is entitled “Why EB-1 and EB-3 might not work as EB-5 substitutes”

     In this article, Galati and Gindin discuss why the proffered alternatives for the backlogged EB-5 visa are not exact substitutes and how potential investors should be aware of the fundamental characteristics of each visa before choosing to utilize them for immigration.

    Gindin and Galati suggest that the only true countermeasure for the significant backlog is to overhaul the EB-5 visa allocation process, preferably through Congress.

    In the article, the two investment immigration attorneys analyze they key characteristics of the EB-1C and EB-3 visas. Specifically, they discuss the potential pitfalls for investors seeking to immigrate to the U.S. using these options and argue that they cannot be scaled or commoditized like the EB-5 visa.  The two cover at great length the eligibility requirements that must be satisfied for each, which would generally disqualify many applicants that might otherwise qualify as EB-5 petitioners.

    Galati and Gindin thoroughly detail the effects of Chinese EB-5 retrogression and advocate for substantial Congressional reform. They note that despite Congressional gridlock, the Department of State could amend its regulations to alter the way visas are currently allocated among principal and derivative applicants. Ultimately, the authors believe that the political likelihood of regulatory change is unclear, however, given the mixed signals sent by the Trump Administration on immigration reforms.

    Founded in 1962, Green and Spiegel is one of North America’s oldest and largest immigration law firms, assisting entrepreneurially-minded immigrants achieve their immigration goals for over five decades. Led by five partners. 17 associates and a supporting team of over 100 individuals, the Firm offers solutions for the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, as well as representation for Canada’s Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Green and Spiegel also assists investors seeking immigration benefits in Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Spain, and Portugal.

    CanAm Enterprises, LLC (CanAm), has more than 30 years of experience in promoting and administering private and government immigration-linked investment funds. In 1987, CanAm had its beginning in Canada’s Business Immigrant Investment Program (BIIP). Beginning in 2002, CanAm shifted its focus to the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Since then, it has had designated or reaffirmed seven Regional Centers that have cumulatively raised more than $2.5 billion in EB-5 capital for 54 projects, representing over 5,000 immigrant investor families. 

  • U.S. AND TURKEY RESUME LIMITED VISA SERVICES

    by Mulaho Hassan | Nov 09, 2017

    On November 6, 2017, nearly one month after suspending nonimmigrant visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the U.S. Consulates in Istanbul and Adana due to the arrest of a U.S. Consular Employee in Istanbul, the U.S. Mission in Turkey announced the “limited resumption of visa services in Turkey.” Per the statement, lifting the recent suspension followed “initial high level assurances from the Government of Turkey that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation.” According to the U.S. Mission in Turkey, the Turkish Government also provided assurances that “local staff will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest a member of our local staff in the future.”

    The Statement is short on details concerning what “limited visa services” actually entails. However, a Q&A released in conjunction with the Statement indicates that processing nonimmigrant visas on “a limited basis” translates to “a reduced number of appointments” available to non-immigrant visa applicants. Beyond longer wait times, it is unclear if nonimmigrant visa services will return to normal.

    This move, in conjunction with the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s trip to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, hopefully represents a cooling-off of recent tensions between the United States and Turkey. However, if the Embassy of Turkey’s statement announcing it would re-commence visa services is any indication, the Turkish Government does not appear to concede the U.S.’ reasoning for suspending and ultimately resuming visa processing in Turkey.

    Many aspects of this issue remain unresolved, and we will continue to provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Firm if you have any questions regarding how these actions affect your ability to travel, or to seek assistance in procuring a nonimmigrant visa in a third country. 

  • CANADA-EUROPEAN UNION COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC TRADE AGREEMENT (CETA): REDUCING BARRIERS TO LABOUR MOBILITY

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 30, 2017

    The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is a free-trade agreement between Canada, the European Union (EU), and its member states enacted to reduce trade barriers and strengthen mutually beneficial economic ties between Canada and the EU. The agreement received approval from all 28 EU member states, and was ratified by the European Parliament in February 2017. CETA was signed by Canada on October 30, 2016 and entered into force on September 21, 2017. 

    CETA covers all aspect of Canada-EU trade, ranging from tariffs to investment, professional certification, product standards, and labour mobility among many others. In the immigration context, CETA will expand Canada’s international mobility program and will facilitate entry for a broader group of workers and business visitors.

    Recognizing the importance of facilitating the mobility of highly-skilled business people, there are three categories of business persons covered by the agreement:

    1. Key personnel: including intra-company transferees, investors, business visitors for investment purposes;
    2. Contractual service suppliers and independent professionals; and
    3. Short-term business visitors.

    1. INTRA-CORPORATE (COMPANY) TRANSFEREE

    Intra-corporate (company) transferee provisions of CETA are similar to the current intra-company provisions with the addition of graduate trainees.

    All intra-corporate (company) transferees must:

    • have been employed by an enterprise of, or have been partners in an enterprise of, an EU member state for at least one year
    • be temporarily transferred to an enterprise (that may be a subsidiary, branch, or head company of the enterprise) in Canada

    The applicant must belong to one of the following categories:

    • Senior personnel
    • Specialists
    • Graduate trainees who possess a university degree and are being temporarily transferred to a Canadian enterprise for career development purposes or to obtain training on business techniques or methods.

    Intra-corporate transferees under the senior personnel or specialist category may be granted work permits valid for three years or the length of the contract, whichever is less, with a possible 18-month extension. Graduate trainee intra-corporate transferees may be granted a work permit valid for 12 months or the length of the contract, whichever is lesser. 

    2. CONTRACTUAL SERVICE SUPPLIERS AND INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONALS

    CETA includes a list of service sectors applicable to contractual service suppliers and independent professionals eligible for work permits.  For example, those providing legal advisory services, accounting, architectural services, engineering, computer and related services (to name a few) with requisite educational or professional qualifications may work temporarily on both sides of the Atlantic for up to a 12 month period. The list of professionals eligible to obtain a work permit exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is broader than the current list under the North America Free Trade Agreement.

    A contractual service supplier must be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as an employee of an enterprise which has obtained a service contract. They must have been an employee of the EU-headquartered enterprise for at least one year and possess three years of professional experience in the sector of activity that is the subject of the contract.

    A self-employed or independent professional who has a contract to supply a service to a Canadian consumer must be engaged in the supply of a service on a temporary basis as a self-employed person and possess at least six years of professional experience in the sector of activity which is the subject of the contract. 

    3. BUSINESS VISITORS

    Under CETA, there are two categories of business visitors: short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes. The maximum length of stay for short-term business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes is 90 days in any six month period, if the applicant does not qualify under R186(a) or R187. Permissible activities under CETA include: meetings and consultations, research and design, marketing research, training seminars, trade fairs and exhibitions, sales, purchasing, after-sales or after-lease service, commercial transactions, tourism personnel and translation and interpretation.

    Short-term business visitors are not permitted to engage in selling a good or service to the general public, receive remuneration directly or indirectly from a Canadian source or engage in the supply of service.

    CETA also includes a provision for the temporary entry of business visitors for investment purposes.  A business visitor for investment purposes is an employee in a managerial or specialist position who is responsible for setting up an enterprise but who does not engage in direct transactions with the general public and will not receive direct or indirect remuneration from a Canadian source.

    For EU citizens, CETA creates new opportunities to work and invest in Canada through new work permit categories. Canadian businesses will also reap great benefits, as CETA will allow Canadian companies contracting foreign EU workers to bring them in more quickly. 

    For more information regarding the CETA changes, please contact us directly. 

  • WELCOME CHANGE IN DEFINITION OF DEPENDENT CHILD EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 24TH, 2017

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 30, 2017

    October 30, 2017-  ​Effective October 24, 2017, the definition of dependent child has increased from 18 to 21 years of age. To be dependent, the child still needs to be unmarried and not in a common-law relationship and for overage children with a physical or mental condition to have been continually unable to financially support themselves since before turning 22.

    The new definition of dependent child applies to applications received on or after October 24, 2017. Applications received between August 1, 2014 and October 23, 2017 will be processed on the previous definitions. Please note that there will be transitional provisions to deal with the dependent child who made an application as a principal applicant as a member of the family class on or before July 31, 2017.  The transitional provisions allow the applications of certain children whose ages were locked in before August  1, 2014, to be processed based on the pre-amendment definition. It is important to note that for some permanent resident programs, IRCC will continue to receive some applications, which include those of children who are 22 or older, who are full-time students and who qualify as dependants based on the 2014 transitional provisions because their ages were locked in before August  1, 2014. These transitional provisions may apply regardless of the date IRCC receives the permanent residence application.

    If you have any questions regarding the definition of a dependent child, please contact us directly.

  • The Cost of Citizenship in Antigua- Barbuda has been Lowered Significantly

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 26, 2017

    October 26, 2017- Antigua- Barbuda, the independent Commonwealth state in the Eastern Caribbean will cut the investment threshold for its National Development Fund (NDF) in half – from $200,000 to $100,000 – to try and stimulate interest from high net worth candidates. According to the prime minister, over the last two months, there have only been three applications under the NDF, generating US$600,000 in revenue for the Caribbean island. For more information regarding the investment options in Antigua and Barbuda, please visit our webpage detailing the program and contact us directly

  • Department of State Announces Vietnam EB-5 Retrogression Likely by September 2018

    by Matt Galati | Oct 25, 2017

    In remarks before the IIUSA Industry Forum held this week, U.S. Department of State Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division Chief Charlie Oppenheim made a surprising prediction following a surge in EB-5 immigrant visa demand from Vietnamese investors this new fiscal year.

    “The amount of petitions received by the National Visa Center has increased dramatically … this has led me to believe that the Vietnam visa category will remain ‘Current’ for the foreseeable future, but I also believe that Vietnam will reach its annual limit some time during the summer,” Oppenheim stated.

    He continued by noting that the Vietnam EB-5 category “would become oversubscribed – possibly as late as September, but definitely by September – at which time Applicants [born in] Vietnam and China would be subject to the same final action date. Vietnam will become an oversubscribed country no later than September.”

    Importantly to note, however, is that Vietnamese visa demand remains much lower than that of Mainland China, which according to USCIS is subject to a potential 10-year long Green Card backlog given the country’s historical dominance in the program. Accordingly, as new visa numbers are allocated each fiscal year (beginning on Oct. 1), Vietnam-born investors would presumably move through the visa queue faster than their PRC counterparts. It remains to be seen how long immigrant visa wait times for Vietnamese investors will be, or whether they will be significantly disruptive in the near future, given the long Form I-526 processing times.

    By way of background, the Immigration and Nationality Act limits the EB-5 preference category’s immigrant admissions per year to approximately 10,000. This is interpreted by the State Department to also include dependent family members as separate admissions. The ​INA further caps admissions by country of chargeability (i.e. birth) at 7% of a given preference category. When a preference category or country of chargeability is oversubscribed, immigrants cannot pursue their Immigrant Visas / Green Cards until their “Priority Date” is Current. Priority Dates are established in the EB-5 context by the date of filing Form I-526.

    While EB-5 has historically been undersubscribed, individuals born in P.R. China first experienced visa unavailability and retrogression in summer 2014. Notwithstanding recent growth, Vietnam’s visa usage ​remains a distant second from China’s, thus the imposition of a cut-off date will surprise many in the industry.

    Contact us today for more information relating to EB-5 immigration, including the filing of Form I-526 and Consular Processing.

  • An Alternative Solution for PEI Quota Woes

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 24, 2017

    This year brought an unprecedented development in Canadian Investor Immigration. Long considered to be the one of the country’s best kept secrets, the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Entrepreneur Program utilized its annual quota of 100 within its first day of opening in May. As such, many entrepreneurially-minded immigrants found themselves out of luck until next spring or looking to other provinces to launch their businesses.

    Fortunately, however, there is a workaround which is not quota-based. As entrepreneurs, prospective immigrants can apply for a PEI-focused work permit. In order to qualify, principal applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Score a minimum of 50 points on the self-assessment, focusing on factors such as age (open only to those 21-59 years of age), education, work experience, and adaptability factors;
    • Have a lawfully-sourced personal net worth of at least $600,000, accumulated by the investor in his or her own right;
    • Possess a high school diploma or higher;
    • Hold business ownership experience or past employment and transferable management skills;
    • Intend to actively manage the PEI-based business and live in the province;
    • Meet minimum English or French language requirements.

    Through this stream, an applicant applies with the PEI provincial authorities and, upon approval, will receive an endorsement for a Work Permit. Once granted by the federal government, an applicant must move to PEI to start his/her business activities. After CAD $75,000 is spent in a year, the entrepreneur can apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residency. The total time required to achieve permanent residency through this route is approximately 3 years, but the applicant and dependents can move to PEI within less than a year to start their business once the Work Permit is granted.

    At Green and Spiegel, we pride ourselves on finding creative solutions for our investor clientele. Contact us today for advice relating to your family’s immigration to the U.S., Canada, Caribbean, or Europe.

  • Trump Travel Ban Blocked Nationwide (Again)

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 18, 2017

    Two District Courts have halted the third iteration of the Travel Ban, which was set to go into effect today.

    In a 91-page opinion issued this morning, Maryland U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang issued a preliminary injunction, ruling that the ‘Travel Ban 3.0’ was  an "inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban" and motivated by religious animus. In rejecting the Government’s contention that the ban did not run afoul of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the court reviewed President Trump’s statements targeting Islam made on the campaign trail and on Twitter. Notably, the Maryland ruling does not apply to people who lack "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," similar to a decision issued by the Supreme Court this past summer.

    Similarly, Hawaii U.S. District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson partially blocked the Travel Ban in a memorandum opinion issued yesterday, albeit on statutory grounds regarding the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibition on discrimination. More narrowly, Judge Watson’s ruling did not apply to Venezuelan and North Korean elements of the ban.

    The Government is virtually certain to appeal these decisions to their respective Circuit Courts. Earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated his opinion that the Travel Ban is lawful and the government will ultimately prevail.

    Importantly, immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications – including in self-petition circumstances such as EB-1A, National Interest Waiver, and EB-5 – should be able to proceed. We will continue to monitor developments with regard to these cases, including any agency guidance to be issued in the wake of these rulings. Contact ustoday for advice with respect to your specific circumstances.

     
  • U.S. AND TURKEY SUSPEND VISA SERVICES

    by Mulaho Hassan | Oct 10, 2017

    On October 8, 2017, the U.S. Mission to Turkey announced the immediate suspension of all nonimmigrant visas services at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, as well as its Consulates in Istanbul and Adana. Citing the need to “reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel” and “minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds,” the United States will no longer process new nonimmigrant visa applications for visitors, temporary workers, diplomats, or students within Turkey. Less than 24 hours later, the Turkish Mission to the United States issued a nearly identical statement directed at U.S. Citizens.

    This visa tit-for-tat is the latest development in the fraying of a once-strong relationship that continues to deteriorate. Washington’s decision on Sunday followed the arrest of a Turkish Citizen employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. According to Turkish authorities, the consular employee’s arrest stemmed from alleged connections to the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom President Erdogan’s administration blames for the failed June 2016 coup d’état in Turkey. This arrest and the United States’ ongoing refusal to extradite Mr. Gulen, coupled with the indictment of 15 Turkish Security Officials in the United Statesthe arrest of U.S. Citizens in Turkey accused of plotting to overthrow the government, and Washington’s support of Kurdish fighters in Syria, amongst other conditions, have destabilized the long-standing U.S.-Turkish alliance and created the climate to support these reciprocal measures.

    In a statement issued October 9, 2017, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, described the recent arrest that triggered this suspension, as well as the ramifications for current visa holders and Turkish Citizens seeking U.S. Visas outside of Turkey. Importantly, Ambassador Bass confirmed the suspension was not a ban on Turkish Citizens traveling to the United States on previously issued U.S. visas. Petitioners may continue to file on behalf of Turkish nationals. Moreover, Ambassador Bass advised that Turkish Citizens may apply for U.S. visas outside of Turkey. Also, the suspension of processing nonimmigrant visas does not apply to ongoing or new applications for immigrant visas, which will continue per usual.

    Even though the Turkish government’s initial statement mirrored the U.S., its prohibition on U.S. Citizens extends beyond Washington’s suspension. In fact, while U.S. Citizens with previously issued visas to travel to study, work, visit, or live in Turkey will continue to be allowed to do so, the government will not issue new visas to U.S. Citizens, no matter where they are applying. Additionally, there is concern that certain ports of entry will require U.S. Citizens holding a Turkish visa to have entered Turkey using said visa prior to October 8, 2017, meaning U.S. Citizens presently seeking to utilize their visas for the first time may be turned away.

    This situation remains fluid and subject to numerous clarifications, and we will continue to provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you have any questions regarding how these actions affect your ability to travel, or to seek assistance in procuring a nonimmigrant visa in a third country.

  • U.S. Practice Director Jonathan Grode Moderates Panel at Startup Global Philadelphia

    by Mulaho Hassan | Sep 27, 2017

     StartupGlobalPanel3(Practice Director Jonathan Grode speaking at the Startup Global Philadelphia) 

    U.S. Practice Director Jonathan Grode  recently had the honor of serving as moderator in a panel discussion titled  “Legal Considerations for Global Startups” hosted by the Global Innovation Forum. ​The panel took place during the Startup Global Philadelphia forum, which brought together the European American Enterprise Council, Temple University Fox School of Business, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to explore the opportunities and challenges for startups and small businesses in the global marketplace and to discover resources to help globally-minded businesses succeed.

    The Global Innovation Forum connects business, startup, development and university leaders with public policymakers to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with engaging in the global marketplace in the digital age.

    For more details regarding the panel topic, or to discuss options for opening a company in the United States, contact ​us directly.