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  • Vietnam Officially Added to CPTPP, and Potential Benefits to Investors Follow

    by Esther Dressler | Jan 15, 2019

    The Government of Canada has officially updated program delivery instructions for business visitors and investors holding Vietnamese passports, given that the Comprehensive and Progress Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) for Vietnam entered into force on January 14, 2019.

    With this update, businesspersons from Vietnam have gained heretofore unprecedented access to Canadian immigration, both on short-term and longer-term basis.

    The investor provisions of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) now apply to applicants who

    • are citizens of Australia, Japan, Mexico or Vietnam;
    • will establish, develop or administer an investment to which the business person or their enterprise has committed or is in the process of committing a substantial amount of capital; and
    • are in a supervisory or executive role or a role that involves essential skills.         

     

    Successful applicants to this program are eligible for a one-year work permit, with possible extensions at the officer’s discretion if the applicant is able to provide documentation that satisfies the processing officer of the applicant’s need to have their stay extended. This also will allow the applicants to accumulate valuable time working in Canada, for the purposes of a Permanent Residence Application.

    The overall terms and conditions are similar in many respects to the U.S.’ E-2 visa. There is no minimum dollar figure established for meeting the requirement of “substantial” investment to qualify for this permit. Substantiality is normally determined by using a “proportionality test” in which the amount invested is weighed against one of the following factors:

    • the total value of the particular enterprise in question (determining proportion is a largely straightforward calculation involving the weighing of evidence of the actual value of an established business, i.e., purchase price or tax valuation, against the evidence of the amount invested by the applicant); or
    • the amount normally considered necessary to establish a viable enterprise of the nature contemplated. (This may be a less straightforward calculation. Officers will have to base the decision on reliable information on the Canadian business scene to determine whether the amount of the intended investment is reasonable for the type of business involved.)

    Obviously, this is a sliding scale calculation. The amount of “substantial” investment to create a Canadian digital consulting business is far less than a new Canadian Oil company.

    The objective of investor status is to promote productive investment in Canada. Therefore, an applicant is not entitled to this status if the investment, even if substantial, will return only enough income to provide a living for the applicant and family.

    For more information regarding investment immigration to Canada, contact us today.

  • EB5Investors Magazine Names Matthew T. Galati a Top 25 Immigration Attorney

    by Esther Dressler | Jan 14, 2019

    Congratulations to Matthew T. Galati for being named a Top 25 Immigration Attorney by EB5Investors Magazine in January 2019 for his experience, reputation, and passion.

     

    Philadelphia, PA: Senior Associate Matthew T. Galati, EB-5 Section Head of Green and Spiegel Immigration Law Firm, was named as one of the 2018 Top 25 Immigration Attorneys by EB5Investors Magazine. EB5 Investors Magazine is a go-to source of information for investors, developers and professionals within the EB-5 visa community. Individuals were evaluated based on immigrant investor program experience, professional reputation, and recognition in the community. To be included on this list is a great honor, as the award is decided via an EB-5 industry-wide vote with additional screening from the magazine’s editorial board and internal staff.

     

    When asked about Matthew’s distinction,Jonathan Grode, U.S. Practice Director of Green and Spiegel, said, “We are very proud of what Matt has been able to do in the immigrant investor practice area. Not only has he grown as an attorney, becoming a thought and industry leader, but are also very proud of what he has done on behalf of the Firm. Since Matt joined Green and Spiegel, our EB-5 practice has grown tenfold. Congratulations Matt on a well-deserved honor.” StephenGreen, Senior Partner of Green and Spiegel and head of its worldwide investor practice, added “Matt is exceptionally knowledgeable in the EB-5 area, and he works relentlessly on behalf of his clients. This is a well-deserved honor that speaks to his excellent reputation and outstanding work product.”

     

    Matthew T. Galati is an attorney at Green and Spiegel, one of North America's oldest immigration law firms. The firm offers comprehensive immigration solutions in the U.S. and Canada. In the Philadelphia office, Matt leads the firm's EB-5 and Grenada Citizenship-by-Investment functions. Since the beginning of his career, Galati has filed hundreds of EB-5 petitions. He also routinely counsels entrepreneurial clients on the treaty trader and investor E-visas, intracompany transferee L-1 visas, and EB-1 visa alternatives. Galati has demonstrated expertise with Form I-829 filings and serves as a member of the national AILA EB-5 Immigrant Investor Committee. This is his second award from EB-5 Investors Magazine, having been named a “Rising Star” last year

     

    Those interested can read more about the award and winners in the EB5 Investors Magazine Top 25 Attorney January issue, or online at https://www.eb5investors.com/magazine. Green and Spiegel would like to congratulate Matthew on his prestigious award. He is truly deserving of this recognition, as he is an innovator leading the way with his experience and passion.

     

    ABOUT: Green and Spiegel, LLC is a law firm specializing in North American immigration law. From large corporate employee transfers to difficult family sponsorships and humanitarian applications for permanent residence, Green and Spiegel can help. With top legal minds in corporate employee transfers, removal/deportation, immigrant investment, family immigration, immigration compliance, and resolving inadmissibility issues, the professionals at Green and Spiegel have been recognized as industry leaders.

  • Employment-Based I-485s: Ability to Use the Earlier Date for Filing Charts May Come to a Close

    by Esther Dressler | Jan 11, 2019

    Back in September we told you that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) was allowing applicants to file their I-485 applications for adjustment of status in both the employment-based and the family-based categories according to the earlier-in-time Filing Date Charts. Put another way, USCIS has been accepting Form I-485 filings for all prospective qualifying immigrants before a visa number is technically available. The past few months have been a boon for EB- applicants because since the introduction of the two chart system, USCIS has almost always mandated that such immigrants may only file once their priority dates are current, as per the “Final Action” date for I-485 filings. 

    As noted, this change in policy represented a huge development for certain applicants, who potentially were able to access employment authorization documents (EADs) and Advance Parole travel permits which, in certain instances, would potentially be more than a year earlier than otherwise anticipated.

    Green and Spiegel has been filing our clients’ files in light of this change for months, however, it appears that this will shortly come to an end. In a January Update, USCIS stated the following:

    For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

    You must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for January 2019.  Based on current trends in inventory and visa use, USCIS anticipates that applicants in the employment-based preference categories will have to use the Final Action Dates chart as soon as February 2019.

     

    Now, this doesn’t represent a definitive deadline, as the language used by USCIS is equivocal as to whether or not February will indeed be the end of this potential, and there is no telling what the effects of the current or prolonged government shutdown will have on visa processing as we progress into the new year. However, potential applicants’ best option remains to both stay vigilant and proactive regarding this filing potential, before it is too late to use to their benefit and resolve their files sooner.

    If you have a question about your ability to file an I-485 or how this early filing date may affect you, please contact us today.

  • Government Shutdown: USCIS Still Accepting Investors’ I-526 Filings Despite Lapse

    by Esther Dressler | Dec 27, 2018

    On Friday, December 21st, 2018, Congress adjourned without reaching an agreement on a government spending deal, resulting in a partial government shutdown. There were a number of sunsetting immigrant programs relying on Congress’s reauthorization by the midnight expiration deadline, including the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program.

    We previously covered what a lapse would look like based on USCIS’ guidance issued during the early days of the Obama Administration. This guidance stated that only Direct EB-5 petitions (i.e. those not relying on indirect job creation, the cornerstone of the Regional Center program), could be accepted following a lapse in authorization.

    However, according to guidance from USCIS, the agency will continue to accept investors’ Regional Center-related filings, notwithstanding the lapse:

    The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program expired at the end of the day on Dec. 21, 2018, due to a lapse in congressional authorization to continue the program. All regional center applications and individual petitions are affected. USCIS will not accept new Forms I-924, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program, as of Dec. 21, 2018. Any pending Forms I-924 as of Dec. 21, 2018, will be put on hold until further notice.  

    Regional centers should continue to submit Form I-924A, Annual Certification of Regional Center, for fiscal year 2018. 

    We will continue to receive regional center-affiliated Forms I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after the close of business on Dec. 22, 2018. As of Dec. 22, 2018, we will put unadjudicated regional center-affiliated Forms I-526 and I-485 (whether filed before or after the expiration date) on hold for an undetermined length of time.

    All Forms I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, filed before or after the expiration date, will not be affected by the expiration of the program.

    USCIS will provide further guidance to the public if legislation is enacted to reauthorize, extend, or amend the regional center program.

    To be clear, Direct EB-5 is not affected by the shutdown / lapse, as it is a permanent part of the Immigration and Nationality Act and accordingly does not require reauthorization.

    At this time, there is no clear indication as to when Congress will agree on a new spending deal or when the government will be back to its full-functioning operations. We will continue to update our readers regarding developments in Washington.

    If you have any questions regarding immigrating to the U.S. through investment, contact us today.

  • Investors Eye U.S. Visas as Cure to Brexit Economic Fears

    by Esther Dressler | Dec 16, 2018

    Since the first referendum vote in June 2016, the UK government has been dealing with an arduous and controversial process of exiting the European Union (EU). Regardless of anyone’s feelings on the matter, Brexit is expected to officially happen on March 29, 2019. What that exit looks like on a national and international context is fueling great anxiety for our prospective clients, particularly with regard to the future economic uncertainty in the UK’s business and investing sector.

     

    One reoccurring fear is that if Brexit happens and is particularly messy, a new government could take power that would drastically change corporate and general tax policies, demanding increases upon wealthy individuals. Another fear frequently cited by clients – perhaps more worrisome – is a severe economic downturn that could wipe out individuals’ assets and business prospects.

     

    Our firm has received an unprecedented number of inquiries from high net worth British citizens and residents looking to move to the U.S. or otherwise pursue immigration benefits to hedge their bets. Prospective clients have been particularly interested in moving to the U.S. on a temporary (but indefinite) basis through an E-2 nonimmigrant investor visa. Other investors – seeking a more permanent, but less active solution – have been drawn to the EB-5 regional center investment program. The E-2 process is generally faster than the EB-5, and also can be accomplished with a lower threshold amount. However, some wealthy British investors have preferred moving forward with the Green Card process for their families, especially as increases to the minimum investment amount are looming.

     

    For more information regarding moving to the U.S. as an investor or entrepreneur, contact us today.

  • Congress Passes EB-5 Regional Center Extension to Dec. 21; Measure Heads to President’s Desk

    by Esther Dressler | Dec 06, 2018

    Early Thursday, both houses of Congress passed a short-term spending bill that would extend the EB-5 regional center program and other immigration programs requiring reauthorization to December 21, 2018. The House and Senate passed the legislation by voice vote after cancelling roll call votes this week, affected by the State funeral and National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush. The bill is now being sent to President Trump for his signature.

    House Joint Resolution 143, otherwise known as “Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2019, and for other purposes” serves to simply replace the current shutdown date of underlying legislation from December 7, 2018 to a new date of December 21, 2018. All affected programs, including the EB-5 Regional Center Program, are to be continued as currently constituted through to this date.

    One item however remains the same, that beyond this period, uncertainty pervades.

    In a speech on Monday of this week, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that although Republicans control Washington, Democrats are "not irrelevant," when it comes to passing any spending bill. The reality facing Republicans, still controlling both Houses of Congress in this lame duck session of Congress, is that any spending deal or extension *must* have Democratic votes to pass in the Senate, where a 60-vote threshold stands to move anything forward and Republicans currently control 51 seats. In the House, the Democratic minority has been needed for years for GOP leaders to get any spending agreement across the finish line, due to internal divisions.

    A major sticking point in the next two weeks will be issues relating to the funding (or lack thereof) of President’s Trump’s planned Southern border wall. Pushing the shutdown deadline right up to Christmas certainly doesn't make anyone on Capitol Hill happy, but it does create another pressure point to provide an extension well into the next Congressional term. In our opinion, however, if recent history provides any indication, another short-term bill, potentially for only a matter of months, is likely to follow.

  • Department of State Gives EB-5 Backlog Projections and Anticipates Cutoff Dates

    by Esther Dressler | Oct 31, 2018

    By: Matthew Galati

    At the AILA / IIUSA joint conference on October 30, 2018, DHS’ Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division Charles Oppenheim gave his projections regarding wait times that families subject to the EB-5 visa backlog might face. His presentation provided the most up-to-date projections available based on current information. The numbers provide key insights for many, especially those weighing EB-5 who have teenage children that might “age out” due to long visa queues.

    By way of background, about 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available to investors and their dependents each year. Because more than 10,000 are requested annually, the Immigration and Nationality Act caps the amount available to a given country’s natives at 7.1%. For example, a Canadian citizen born in Beijing is currently subject to the EB-5 backlog, while a Canadian citizen born in Montreal is not.

    Oppenheim’s methodology required calculating the approximate number of individuals chargeable to the most active EB-5 countries with pending Forms I-526 and adding that number to the approximate number of individuals waiting for a Green Card after approval (e.g. processing through the National Visa Center). By dividing by the country-specific annual quota, this enables one to make the most informed (yet imperfect) projection as to anticipated wait times.

    Furthermore, for any “extra visas” where the addition of all countries not subject to the 7.1% limit together is less than 10,000, those accordingly are to be applied by priority date. Given China’s historical dominance of the program and its unique position among backlogged countries, those visas will be allocated to Mainland-born investors for the foreseeable future.

    The results were as follows:

    Country

    Stated Approximate Wait Time (in years) to Receive a Green Card if Form I-526 Petition was Filed on October 30, 2018

    Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)

    14

    Vietnam

    7.2

    India

    5.7

    South Korea

    2.2

    Taiwan

    1.7

    Brazil

    1.5

    Rest of world

    Expected to be “Current” for Foreseeable future

     

    It is critically important to note that these projections were provided with the following disclaimer:

    These estimates cannot encompass all variables, such as dissipation from petition revocations, deaths, age outs, withdrawals, etc.; or increases from family “acquired” before visa issuance, possible legislation or other governmental action that might impact the amount of numbers available for use each year.

    Wait time estimate is the number of years between the time an I-526 petition is filed [as of Oct. 30, 2018] and the time when an EB-5 visa is likely to be available based on current number use patterns, including the processing time of adjudicating an I-526 petition.

    These numbers might not surprise many industry professionals, who have witnessed surges in EB-5 filings from Vietnam and India in 2017-18. For the pessimist, there is a bit of a silver lining in the projections. Some countries listed that many feared would retrogress severely – e.g. S. Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil – will have wait times shorter than average USCIS Form I-526 processing times. In effect, if these numbers and processing times are to hold, there would be no noticeable retrogression because all cases approved and sent to the National Visa Center would have current priority dates.

    Mr. Oppenheim further provided projections for the remainder of the fiscal year:

    • An EB-5cutoff date for India is expected to be implemented no later than July 2019.
    • India’s EB-2/EB-3 backlog means that immigrants in those categories still face extremely long wait times. At present usage, it would take five years to move priority dates into 2011.
    • Vietnam is not anticipated to use its 700 visas before April 2019.
    • Vietnam’s Final Action Date will advance to May 1, 2016 in the December Visa Bulletin;
    • Mainland China’s Final Action Date will advance to August 22, 2014 in the December Visa Bulletin.

    The figures given were a snapshot as of October 30, 2018. By definition, they are already out-of-date, so consider these projections accordingly. None of the articles published on our Immigrant Investor Blog are intended to be legal advice. Beyond that general disclaimer, it is important to note that the above projections are simply that – projections. These are certainly not guarantees and demand for visas can shift in a short period of time. An individual’s immigration to the U.S. could be significantly slower or faster than anticipated. For example, Congress or the Executive Branch could change laws or policies or an important court case could turn the entire system on its head. Moreover, as many individuals often marry spouses born in low-demand countries (e.g. a Chinese investor marrying a native of Hong Kong), cross-chargeability would apply and obviate wait times for investors that would be subject otherwise.

    Nevertheless, these figures are vitally important for those interested in EB-5 immigration, specifically those families weighing whether or not their children will “age-out” or be protected under the Child Status Protection Act. We thank Mr. Oppenheim for his transparency in this regard.

    Contact us today to discuss whether EB-5 immigration is right for you and your family.

  • Might This Be ‘Last Call’ for $500,000 EB-5?

    by Niki Edwards | Oct 28, 2018

    Real talk: let me start this blog by admitting, “Yeah, I know you’ve heard this before.”

    The EB-5 industry has been saying it for years. It usually goes something like “Congress is going to pass game-changing legislation when the program needs to be reauthorized in a few months, so you need to invest now.” Or "New regulations are coming imminently that will change everything we take for granted." Some people have given even you concrete timeframes for this. Yet so far we – as an industry -- been ‘wrong.’ The law today is not materially different from ​what it was in the early 1990s. But that could be changing very soon.

    We’ve been highlighting potential changes on our Immigrant Investor Blog since its inception. I’m not going to apologize for putting the information out there so that my prospective / current clients can weigh the risks of a changing marketplace and make an informed decision. Yet as I reflect on the past few years, I do so with a keen awareness that some of my clients who panicked to file their cases before the “September 30, 2015 Deadline,” or face a feared imminent steep increase in minimum investment amounts, are now are filing their I-829s. As a lawyer, I have to be conservative to protect my clients’ interest. I have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight even though I (and practically all my contemporaries) could be credibly accused of being somewhat myopic over the past three and a half years.

    So I get why some prospective investors take so-considered EB-5 “deadlines” with a grain of salt, especially as Congress faces gridlock and dysfunction perhaps not seen since the antebellum era. But one thing we do know for sure: DHS can change significant parts of the EB-5 program independently of political pressures that otherwise halt legislative progress.

    Comprehensive change is virtually certain to happen, eventually. It’s late October 2018, and perhaps things are different now. In January 2017, we covered DHS’ EB-5 regulatory overhaul, proposed in the final days of the Obama Administration. Last week, DHS updated its regulatory agenda for this “RIN1615-AC07 EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization,” as being ready for a final rule in November.  We’ve covered similar developments previously, specifically that the agency had done so with a February 2018 and a later August 2018 publication date. Both were missed. But this one – estimating a final action just a month from now – feels different. USCIS has had 18 months to consider its proposed regulation. Now might be the time where the rubber meets the road.

    What does this mean? Obviously we don’t know whether DHS will meet its forecast. I’m not fully convinced its most senior officials know that for certain either.

    But what can we credibly predict?

    With a reasonable degree of certainty, we know that USCIS is going to raise the minimum investment amount. We’re long overdue as the industry is operating operating under the same basic conditions as we were in 1991, yet inflation has weakened the dollar considerably over 27 years. We’ve taken issue with their justifications for so sharply raising the minimum investment amounts as being factually inaccurate. Perhaps the agency will listen to us and the raised minimums will be lower than anticipated. Or maybe not. Again, we don’t know the specifics and I’m not convinced that anyone in the private sector does.

    Further, we are quite confident that USCIS will change both the qualifying criteria and the methodology as to whether a specific location qualifies as a TEA, meaning that the vast majority of projects currently on the market would require the higher minimum investment amounts. Currently, TEA designation is left largely to the states. We’ve expressed our concerns that federalizing this function will mire the process in needless bureaucracy. But it seems reasonable to assume that the days of  assuming that one “can probably get that address designated as a TEA” are numbered and the federal government will take a much more active role. The era of obtaining TEA designations in wealthy downtown neighborhoods is probably coming to a close. Further, there are more overhauls to the program proposed by DHS, and we’ve suggested that some of these be made broader. Perhaps DHS will heed our advice. Perhaps not.

    Lastly, we don’t know when the regulations, once published, will go into effect. Some have said 30-60 days. The last major EB- regulatory overhaul took approximately six months to go into effect. At best, timeframes are unclear at this point.

    The only thing we know for certain is that our team will be here for you before the regulation is published, when it goes into effect, and afterwards. We will work tirelessly to help you obtain your U.S. immigration goals whether it’s EB-5 or otherwise.

    Contact us today to discuss your immigration plans.

     

     

  • EB-5 Regional Center Program Extended Through December 7, 2018

    by Matt Galati | Oct 01, 2018

    If you or your family were interested in filing an EB-5 petition and feared Congressional changes to the program, rest assured that the opportunity to continue with a $500,000 minimum investment and unchanged other material elements of the program has been extended.

    With President Trump signing a short-term “minibus” bill on Friday, appropriations were made for departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, as well as a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to temporarily fund remaining government programs until December 7, 2018. The legislation is now enacted into law.

    The specific language extending the Program through December 7, without any changes, can be found on page 143 of H.R. 6157, where Congress incorporated an extension of “title II of division M of Public Law 115-141”, the previous legislative vehicle which enacted the program through September 30.

    The spectre of changes to the program, including through new regulations, does however remain. Investors seeking EB-5 immigration should strongly consider filing sooner, rather than later.  We will keep our readers updated with further developments.

    Contact us today to discuss immigration through investment options in the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

  • PEI Government Eliminating Entrepreneur Provincial Nominee Program

    by Mulaho Hassan | Sep 17, 2018

    The Prince Edward Island (“PEI”) provincial government will no longer accept applications from immigrants looking to set up a business in the province in exchange for immediate permanent residency. This move eliminates the entrepreneur stream of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and moves Prince Edward Island in line with most jurisdictions across Canada. However, the province will accept applications from individuals to come and open a business if they meet a series of controls proving the business is successful and continuously operational for at least a year. As is done in other jurisdictions across the country, only then would they be considered for permanent residency.

    Prince Edward Island will continue to accept applications for workers coming to the province to fill jobs that employers have not been able to fill locally.

    “Since forming government in 2015 we committed to do business differently, and we delivered on that commitment. We recognized the need for greater scrutiny of our immigration programs, we set up tighter oversight over the agents who act on behalf of newcomers, we launched initiatives to help rural communities attract newcomers, and we increased overall accountability,” Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer said in a statement.

    “Even as these changes are providing better results, it is clear that concerns remain – specifically around the entrepreneur program. We understand these concerns and believe it is in the best interest of our province to eliminate the entrepreneur escrow program entirely.”

    Overall, the province found that much of the capital provided by applicants to the program was simply “walked away from”, as investors left the funds dormant and moved to a different province, armed with nearly-immediately acquired permanent residence status. As constructed, there was little incentive for immigrant investors to actively manage and use those funds in the province. This defeated the core purpose of the program, and as a result action was taken.

    To provide adequate notice to applicants and immigration agents, government will undertake one more draw to select applicants on September 20. No more than 10 applicants will be selected, and no more applications will be accepted moving forward under the previous model.

    “As a government we must ensure that our programs are working to benefit our province,” said Minister Palmer. “It is clear that previous successive governments were unable to alleviate concerns about the entrepreneur stream. This decision will ensure that our programs are working in the best interests of Islanders.”

    We at Green and Spiegel have deep experience in assisting clients with acquiring permanent residence in Canada via Immigrant Investor Programs. The Firm’s attorneys also have considerable experience in obtaining the prerequisite work permits for investors as now required by the PEI program. If you would like more information about relocating you or your family to Canada, we would be more than happy to assist. Please contact us directly