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Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm
  • David Spaulding Joins Green and Spiegel as the Head of the Compliance and Regulatory Practice Section

    by Esther Dressler | Jun 17, 2019

    Green and Spiegel welcomes Former USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate Supervisor David Spaulding to its Philadelphia office, strengthening its Compliance and Regulatory Practice amidst a climate of heightened enforcement.

    Philadelphia, PA: On Monday, June 17, 2019, David Spaulding joined the North American immigration law firm Green and Spiegel in Philadelphia as the Head of the Firm’s Compliance and Regulatory Practice Section. Spaulding is poised to be a critical asset to the Firm, leading a team dedicated to Form I-9 and related employer compliance matters, navigating EB-5 Regional Center and H-1B site visits, and obtaining immigrant and nonimmigrant benefits for clients.

    Spaulding joins the firm immediately following his position as Investigation Group Supervisor for the Department of Homeland Security, a role he held for more than seven years. He also served as an Immigration Officer for Legacy INS and USCIS for 17 years prior to that time, where he decided cases filed by prospective immigrants and their attorneys.

    U.S. Practice Director and Managing Partner Jonathan A. Grode commented on the hire as continuing to fulfill growing demand largely unmet in the industry to date, given the Trump Administration’s increased focus on enforcement.

    “For years Green and Spiegel has helped employers of all sizes navigate the labyrinth that is federal worksite enforcement actions. With the current Administration’s enhanced effort in this regard, it became apparent that we needed to add an experienced compliance attorney to fulfill the demand and better serve our clients,” Grode explained.

    “To have David Spaulding join the Firm to help further develop and direct this practice area exceeded our expectations for the ideal hire that we had in mind. Understanding how or why the government takes certain actions is nearly impossible without having been part of that decision-making in the past. With decades of experience, I can think of no better attorney in the Philadelphia area – or, frankly, the nation – to take on these challenges,” Grode added.

    Indeed, Spaulding’s hire comes on the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s quadrupling of enforcement actions against employers in the past fiscal year, with the prospect of a more heavy-handed approach in 2019-20 as immigration-related issues dominate the national discussion.

    “Employers – whether they use foreign labor or not – need to be aware of the Administration’s Form I-9 compliance priorities. At this point it’s not an exaggeration to say that every business needs to be prepared for a visit from Homeland Security Investigations,” Spaulding explained. “Further, those that do leverage immigration benefits – whether it be H-1B temporary workers, aggregating EB-5 capital investment, or transferring employees from abroad – have an even greater chance of surprise visits.”

    “I am very excited to assist the clients of Green and Spiegel to develop robust compliance mechanisms, that reduce risk and improve profitability. Two decades of regulatory and enforcement experience has equipped me with a broad and deep understanding of the challenges business face in this complex and dynamic legal environment,” he added.

    Beyond his recent USCIS positions, Spaulding boasts a resume full of impressive government experience. A veteran, Spaulding served in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted sailor and subsequently a Stinger Missile Team Sergeant with the Pennsylvania National Guard. Spaulding has also served as a Special Prosecution Assistant in the Chester County Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office, where he calls home with his wife and three children.

    Spaulding is also a graduate of La Salle University (B.A., magna cum laude) and of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law (J.D.).

    ABOUT: Green and Spiegel is one of the world’s oldest immigration law practices 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 resolution of inadmissibility issues, the professionals at Green and Spiegel have been recognized as industry leaders.

     
  • Department of State Implements ‘Extreme Vetting’ Social Media Questions on Form DS-160 and Form DS-260

    by Esther Dressler | Jun 04, 2019

    On Friday, May 31, 2019, the Department of State (“DOS”) updated the online immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications, Form DS-260 and Form DS-160, to include a question inquiring about the history of an applicant’s social media use. The new question requires applicants to fully disclose all the social media accounts they have used within the last five years by providing all their usernames and handles, but not passwords.

    Applicants may select the social media platforms from a dropdown list, -- which includes popular platforms based in the United States, and other countries –such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Reddit, and more.The new question affects over 15 million immigrant and nonimmigrant applicants. Those who are excluded from answering this question includes most diplomatic and official visa applicants.

    This change was proposed in response to the Presidential Memorandum issued on  March 6, 2017, calling for the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General to implement protocols and procedures to enhance the screening and vetting of applications for visas and all other immigration benefits to increase the safety and security of the American people. As previously discussed, The DOS published a 60-day notice in the Federal Register on March 30, 2018 (83 FR 13807), and a 30-day notice in the Federal Register on August 28, 2018 (83 FR 43951), soliciting public comment on this proposed collection of social media information. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) subsequently approved the Department of States’ proposal to expand the collection of social media identifiers on April 11, 2019, despite several public comments, expressing privacy concerns and disapproval of this proposal. 

    The DOS claims the information gathered will be used to confirm an applicant’s identity and determine visa eligibility under applicable U.S. law, which has raised great apprehension as this information is susceptible to misinterpretation and could create risks to privacy and free speech. Per the Office of Management and Budget’s Notice of Action, the DOS will be looking at public-facing content only and will not be requesting passwords for social media accounts in order to focus on detecting terrorist sentiment and activity to prevent dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits. The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law has published a research reportthat outlines several takeaways from similar pilot programs in which DHS agents misinterpreted social media posts and we unable to reliably match social media accounts, which ultimately resulted in incorrect visa denials.

    In The Department of State’s Final Supporting Statement for Paperwork Reduction Act Submission the DOS states, “[w]ithin consular and fraud prevention sections of the Department’s overseas posts, public-facing social media information may be reviewed to assess potential visa fraud that would lead to a conclusion that the applicant is not eligible for a visa. For example, information on social media pages or posts may be used to validate legitimate relationships or employment required for visa eligibility, to identify indicia of fraud, or to identify misrepresentations that disguise potential threats.” This statement goes beyond the claim that social media information will be used to detect terrorist sentiment and activity for the safety and security of the American people. Overall, the social media information gathered will be used to deny visas based on specific statutory visa ineligibilities and not on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, political views, gender, or sexual orientation.

    It should be noted that visa applicants who credibly represent that they have not used social media will not be adversely affected by not providing a social media handle. However, those applicants who purposely do not disclose their social media history may be considered to willfully misrepresent a material fact, potentially resulting in a lifetime ban from entry. Therefore, we do advise disclosing all social media accounts, even if they were deleted, if they were active within the last five years as traces of these deleted accounts may still be found.

    Additional questions that were proposed by the DOS, but have not yet been added to the online immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications include the following:

    1. An optional question that asks applicants if they wish to provide any other social media identifiers for platforms they have used within the last five years to create or share content not listed in the initial social media question;
    2. A mandatory question asking whether an applicant has ever been removed or deported from any country;
    3. A mandatory question inquiring about whether an applicant’s family member has engaged in terrorist activity, including providing financial assistance or other support to terrorists or terrorist organizations, in the last five years;
    4. A mandatory question asking the applicant for any other telephone numbers used during the last five years besides their primary and secondary numbers; and
    5. A mandatory question asking whether the applicant has used any other email addresses for personal purposes during the last five years.

    Green and Spiegel will be closely monitoring any further updates to these online applications, as well as any further limitations or changes the Trump Administration is making to US Immigration.  If you have any questions regarding if and how USCIS’ announcement affects your pending nonimmigrant or immigrant visa application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

  • Reintroduced Bill to Extend E-3 Visa Access to Irish Citizens

    by Esther Dressler | May 30, 2019

    A bill with the potential to grant thousands of visas to Irish workers each year has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. House Democrat Richard Neal brought the bill, H.R. 2418, back in early May in the wake of renewed efforts to win congressional support for the measure. 

    Currently, Australia is the only country with access to the 10,500 E-3 visa slots each year. The legislation originally creating the E-3 visa program was signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 11, 2005. E-3 visas are similar in many ways to the H-1B visa, although the E-3 track does not allow dual intent. No petition to USCIS is required. Spouses of E-3 visa holders are able to work in the United States without restrictions, and the E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely, albeit in two-year increments.

    Since being signed into law, Australia has yet to use all of the available 10,500 slots: roughly half of the visas go unused annually. Beginning in late 2018, Ireland has strongly campaigned for access to this particular visa class, namely the roughly 5,000 visas that go unused each year.

    In November of last year, the House of Representatives voted in favor of an E-3 visa deal for Ireland. The bill was unable to garner the unanimous support needed in the U.S. Senate, however, when a hold was placed on the legislation by a handful of Senators, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton among them.

    Recent diplomatic efforts surrounding this measure have ramped up significantly in recent months. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, pledged to continue to work toward implementing the proposed legislature after she led a delegation of U.S lawmakers on a visit to Ireland. In March, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with President Donald Trump and congressional leaders during his visit to Washington D.C. to discuss Irish E-3 visa access.

    The Irish Government has formulated a reciprocal arrangement which would ease restrictions on U.S. citizens who hope to work or retire in Ireland.

    In order to qualify for E-3 visas, applicants must be employed in a specialty occupation, have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States, and possess the requisite academic or other qualifying credentials.

    Our firm will continue to monitor the ongoing efforts to grant Ireland access to the E-3 visa scheme. Should you have any questions regarding E-3 or H-1B visas, or other employment-based nonimmigrant visa options, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Matthew Galati Elected Vice Chair for the AILA Philadelphia Chapter; Renamed to National EB-5 Committee

    by Esther Dressler | May 28, 2019

    GandS US Twitter AILA Vice Chair 

    Green and Spiegel Senior Associate Matthew Galati was not only re-selected for the ​national American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Committee, but also tapped to hold the position of Vice Chair of the AILA Philadelphia Chapter for 2019-20.

    On May 23, 2019, during the organization’s annual elections, Matthew was elected Vice Chair by the membership, ending a year-long term as Treasurer. Matthew ended 2018-19 as being among the youngest lawyers nationally to hold a Chapter executive committee position; progressing through the ranks of chapter leadership since 2016. Similarly, AILA’s National leadership has re-selected Matthew to its Investor (EB-5) Committee for the 2019-20 term, kicking off at the organization’s June Annual Conference in Orlando. Matthew is only one of 10 members selected to this committee and its youngest.

    Speaking on behalf of the cross-border firm, Green and Spiegel Managing Partner Stephen Green said “Our firm has always been a leader in investment immigration in Canada, but we hadn’t focused much on the U.S. side until Matt joined the firm in 2016. It’s simply amazing how much he’s accomplished in less than three years. We’ve been able to now distinguish ourselves from our competition as the go-to firm for high net worth individuals on both sides of the border.”

    As described on its website, AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established 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. The organization consists of more than 15,000 lawyers nationally and over 400 throughout its Philadelphia Chapter.

    Matthew T. Galati is an attorney at Green and Spiegel, one of North America's oldest immigration law firms offering comprehensive immigration solutions in the U.S. and Canada. Galati currently serves as a Senior Associate and EB-5 Section Head, dedicated to representing individuals and companies seeking use of foreign investment in the immigration context. Under Matthew's leadership, the firm's EB-5 volume expanded over 20-fold and is now regarded as an elite firm in this industry. Throughout his career, he has filed hundreds of EB-5 petitions and has experienced almost every aspect of immigration law. Galati is nationally recognized thought leader in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, as he frequently speaks at reputable EB-5 conferences around the world.

  • Congress Blasts Trump’s Immigration Overhaul as Comprehensive Reform Remains Unlikely

    by Esther Dressler | May 23, 2019

    On Thursday, May 16, 2019, President Trump unveiled his administration’s proposal for a new employment-heavy immigration system that focuses on reworking border security and the current legal Immigration system. Though the proposed changes do not limit the number of green cards allocated each year, roughly 1.1 million per year, they do prioritize high-skilled workers over family relationships. Trump’s plan was championed by advisor / son-in-law Jared Kushner, who reportedly had been working on the plan for months.

    Before we get into the plan details itself, we want to make it abundantly clear to our readers that this is largely an academic exercise – there is unlikely to be a vote on legislation embodying Trump’s plan, much less passage through a divided Congress. Indeed, somewhat ironically, Trump’s plan has garnered bipartisan rebuke. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offer a “dead-on-arrival plan that is not a remotely serious proposal.” Republicans speaking anonymously to the Washington Post likewise blasted the plan, pointing out that it lacked important details and cannot pass without addressing solutions for DREAMers.

    Trump’s plan would scrap the current FB- and EB- categories, upending expectations for families who have waited years (or even decades) for residency.  Under this new system, the preference categories would be replaced with a new visa dubbed the “Build America” visa, which will have no per country limits. The “Build America” visa (a so-called) merit-based legal immigration system would create a two-step process to obtain a Green Card that begins with 1) a civics test and background check; and then 2) evaluates each applicant on a point system that takes into consideration the applicant’s age, ability to speak English, job offers received, work experience and educational background. This new system will ultimately favor young applicants likely to build long-term ties and contribute to America’s society over their lifetimes. Scrapping guaranteed categories for family members, the newly proposed system would seek to prioritize spouses and children of U.S. citizens and immediate family members of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents, but it will eliminate those applicants currently waiting for years to immigrate as they would have to reapply under a new point-based system. This would affect the roughly 4 million applicants under backlogs reported back in November 1, 2018, resulting in unnecessary collateral damage as the current U.S. immigration system already prioritizes immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

    Currently, about 67 percent of all green cards issued to date fell into one of the family-sponsored categories, while 13 percent of green cards issued were awarded to refugees and asylum seekers. The new system aims to issue about 57 percent of green cards to applicants with high professional skills and education as the current system issues about 12 percent of all green cards to these immigrants.

    The administration may claim to have modeled the proposal on Canada’s point-based Express Entry system, although it is incredibly important to note that our northern neighbors have family-reunification streams separate and apart from Express Entry.

    Furthermore, the proposed immigration plan seeks to fund full border security through border crossing fees and revenues generated at ports of entry, which will be placed in a trust fund to ensure quick access to funding for physical barrier construction and enforcement of visa overstays. 

    Trump’s plan also proposes changes to the process in seeking asylum, including blocking Central Americans from applying for asylum at the border and instead requiring them to apply at processing centers in the Northern Triangle and in Mexico. President Trump claims the new system will prioritize “legitimate asylum-seekers” over “those lodging frivolous claims”, as if our current system does not already implement this goal.

    While we cannot state for certain that Trump’s legislative plan will fail in Congress, we are happy to prognosticate that its prospects look quite hopeless. Without the Administration embracing good faith compromise with the Democratic-controlled house (perhaps akin to the 2013 legislation which passed the Senate with 68 votes), comprehensive reform is highly unlikely.

    Contact us today with any questions you have regarding your immigration to the U.S.

  • EB-5 Quota Backlog Updates: India Spikes to 8.4 Years; Vietnam Holds Steady

    by Esther Dressler | May 06, 2019

    Roughly six months ago we provided you with DHS’ Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division Charles Oppenheim’s EB-5 quota backlog projections. The numbers provided key insights for many, especially those weighing EB-5 who have children that might “age out” due to long visa queues. Today Mr. Oppenheim provided an important update.

    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%.This means that 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 this figure by the country-specific annual quota, one can 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% limit together is less than 10,000, those are accordingly 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. Consequently, as EB-5 popularity grows in other countries, Chinese investors in this queue disproportionately bear the effects of increased demand compared to their Vietnamese counterparts.

    Oppenheim provided an update as part of the Invest in the USA (IIUSA) 2019 EB-5 Advocacy Conference and Industry Awards, held in Washington, D.C. The trends are striking for prospective investors and those awaiting a visa to become available alike:

    Country

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

    Stated Approximate Wait Time (in years) to Receive a Green Card if Form I-526 Petition was Filed on May 6, 2019

    Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)

    14

    16.5

    Vietnam

    7.2

    7.6

    India

    5.7

    8.4

    South Korea

    2.2

    2.4 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

    Taiwan

    1.7

    2 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

    Brazil

    1.5

    1.8 (largely within published I-526 processing times)

    Rest of world

    Expected to be “Current” for Foreseeable future

    Same

     

    The headline-grabbing projection will be India’s wait time spiking from 5.7 to 8.4 years in such a short period of time. However, as we have explained before, with Indian wait times in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories extending to perhaps longer than a human being’s lifespan, EB-5 (and where available, EB-1) may be the only viable employment-based option to immigrate to the U.S., notwithstanding both categories beginning to backlog.

    Vietnam, interestingly, has not increased its backlog nearly as sharply since October. The remaining countries on the cusp of retrogression (Taiwan, S. Korea, Brazil) are likely to suffer only minor quota backlogs barring a major shift in demand due to long Form I-526 processing times. These investors may perhaps not notice any delay in their immigration should demand remain steady.

    Perhaps as equally important as the backlog projections was Mr. Oppenheim’s predictions for the monthly Visa Bulletins in the rest of the Fiscal Year and the beginning of next. He offered key insights as to what to expect for the remainder of FY 2019 and into FY 2020:

    • P.R. China: The JulyVisa Bulletin will advance to October 1, 2014 for Mainland China.Charlie predicts that this date will likely not advance for the rest of the year unless the Rest of the World demand goes down significantly. In October (i.e. the start of FY 2020), China’s“best-case” scenario would be an October 15, 2014 final action date and its “worst-case” scenario would be an October 8, 2014 final action date.
    • Vietnam: The July Visa Bulletin will advance to October 1, 2016 for Vietnam.Vietnam will hit its annual limit thereafter, upon which it will revert to China’s date. In October, Vietnam’s best-case scenario will be a December 15, 2016 final action date and its worst-case scenario would be a November 22, 2016 final action date.
    • India: Contrary to some back-and-forth on this issue, India will likely hit its annual limit in late June or early July. It is possible that the July Visa Bulletin will have a final action date in 2017, but Mr. Oppenheim may instead establish a cutoff equal to China’s final action date. In October India will face a 2017 final action date with Fall being the best-case scenario and Summer being the worst-case scenario.
    • South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil will not backlog in FY 2019. They will each be current in October.

    We remain committed to providing updates to our clients and overseas business partners. Contact us today with any questions regarding moving to the U.S., Canada, or elsewhere through investment migration.

  • Matthew T. Galati Wins Legal Intelligencer 2019 Professional Excellence Award

    by Esther Dressler | Apr 12, 2019

    GandS US Award Twitter 3 

    Green and Spiegel congratulates Matthew T. Galati, who has just received a 2019 Professional Excellence Award and named a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer.

    Philadelphia, PA: On April 08, 2019 The Legal Intelligencer announced the Professional Excellence Award winners. These awards recognize the work and achievements of law firms and attorneys within the Pennsylvania legal community each year. There are ten categories of Professional Excellence, and Matthew Galati of Green and Spiegel was one of twenty five recipients of the “Lawyers on the Fast Track Award.” He will be honored at a ceremony on June 27, 2019 at Philadelphia’s famed Crystal Tea Room.

    “Lawyers on the Fast Track” recognizes the next generation of legal leaders by honoring Pennsylvania-based lawyers under the age of 40. Nominees are evaluated by an impartial judging panel, made up of members of the Pennsylvania legal community and only the highest ranking composite scores receive the honor.

    When asked about Matt’s accomplishment, U.S. practice director of Green and Spiegel Jonathan Grode said, “Matt is definitely on the fast-track. He has deftly carved out a practice niche that has provided tremendous growth for the Firm. What impresses me most about Matt is that he never rests on his laurels. He is always looking for ways to expand his practice and identify cutting edge areas of immigration law. We are proud of Matt and have no doubt that this success will continue”.

    At the age of 33, Matthew Galati is recognized as a rising star within the immigration law community, specifically in the representation of immigrant investors. In 2016 Matthew joined Green and Spiegel and expanded its EB-5 practice group over twenty-fold in less than three years, becoming one of the most recognized EB-5 firms in the United States. Earlier this year, Matthew was named a “Top 25 Immigration Attorney” by EB-5 Investors Magazine. His practice areas also include nonimmigrant investors, corporate counseling, litigation, and worksite compliance (Form I-9 and E-Verify).

    The Legal Intelligencer is the oldest daily law journal in the United States.Within the Professional Excellence Awards, there are ten categories, including Attorney of the Year, Distinguished Leaders, Lifetime Achievement, Litigation Departments, GC Impact, Best Mentors, Power Players, Law Firm Innovators, Unsung Heroes, and Lawyers on the Fast Track. Jonathan Grode won the 2018 Distinguished Leader Award last year, making this Green and Spiegel’s second consecutive Professional Excellence Award.

    ABOUT: Green and Spiegel is one of the world’s oldest immigration law practices 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.

  • Israeli E-2 Visas Confirmed for May 1, 2019

    by Esther Dressler | Apr 11, 2019

    The Israeli E-2 visa will soon become a reality. As reported by our office in late March, the long-awaited treaty investor agreement between the United States and Israel was expected to become effective in just few short weeks.  As an update, the U.S. Embassy has now confirmed that Israeli E-2 visa applications will be accepted as of Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

    Pursuant to the treaty, Israeli citizens will be able to apply for an E-2 visa at the U.S. Embassy Branch Office, Tel Aviv. A formal ceremony marking this historic accomplishment is tentatively scheduled to take place on Monday, May 6, 2019, with Ambassador Friedman as the keynote speaker.

    The E-2 visa provides relatively fast entry into the U.S. by allowing applicants the opportunity to apply directly to a consulate abroad with no petition to USCIS needed. For a country with as many burgeoning businesses and startups as Israel, it provides a fantastic option for Israelis looking to direct or develop their company in the United States.

    Contact us today to prepare for the opening of the E-2 visa to Israelis.

  • EB-5 Visa Demand Slows in Early 2019; Launching Vietnam Forward and Calling Into Question Whether India Retrogression Will Take Effect This Fiscal Year

    by Esther Dressler | Apr 02, 2019

    Last fall, we covered perhaps the most important EB-5 development of the year, DOS’ Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division Charles “Charlie” Oppenheim’s projections for various countries’ EB-5 visa backlog times, based on an October 2018 filing. Of particular note were longer than expected wait times for Mainland China and Vietnam, and a warning to the industry to brace for India’s backlog to begin “no later than July 2019.”

    However, more recent data calls these projections into question. As per the April Visa Bulletin,“Final Action Date movement in many Family-sponsored and Employment-based preference categories continues to be greater than might ordinarily be expected, and this is anticipated to continue for at least the next few months. This is a direct result of fewer applicants proceeding to final action on their cases at consular posts abroad and USCIS Offices.”

    Further, each month, the American Immigration lawyers Association (AILA) publishes a “Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim” (paywalled) that is “designed to keep members informed of Visa Bulletin progress and to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections, beyond the basic visa availability updates provided in the monthly Visa Bulletin.” The latest edition had vitally important information for EB-5 applicants from high demand countries:

    EB-5:

    In the April 2019 Visa Bulletin, the Final Action Date for EB-5 China advances one week to September 15, 2014. In China, the Consulate in Guangzhou is trying to get scheduling up to speed following the recent periods in which the EB-5 I5 and R5 programs were not authorized.

    A decrease in the level of expected demand is occurring for other countries as well. It is possible that applicants held off submitting documents while awaiting the reauthorization of EB-5 (I5 and R5) programs. Charlie expects the demand levels to increase again, as a result of the recent reauthorization. Charlie mentioned that EB-5 Vietnam has slightly less demand in the weekly groupings and is better positioned to advance. The Final Action Date included in the April 2019 Visa Bulletin for EB-5 Vietnam is August 22, 2016.

    Charlie previously expected EB-5 India to reach its per country limit by July 2019. However, he is no longer certain that will happen. He is watching the demand data and should have a better sense of the number usage within a few weeks. The decline in demand mentioned above, possibly resulting from reauthorization concerns, makes it difficult for Charlie to estimate how many additional numbers may be used by "high demand" EB-5 countries.

    This presents a puzzle for stakeholders. Form I-526 petitions and the number of prospective immigrants in the visa queue continue to be robust. What could be causing this immigrant visa slowdown, and perhaps the delay of the onset of Indian EB-5 retrogression until the next fiscal year?

    We have one theory. Since the Regional Center Program’s expiration in December and the ensuing government shutdown, combined with short-term reauthorizations, the Visa Bulletins for three months (January, February, and March) have stated that the EB-5 Regional Center category visas (I5/R5) were unavailable, notwithstanding multiple legislative extensions. Our firm (and anecdotally several of our peers in the industry) have had administrative difficulties in moving cases through the National Visa Center. Citing the then-current Visa Bulletin, many of its employees claimed I5/R5 visas were not available notwithstanding legislative reauthorization. Only a few of our clients were able to successfully process their immigrant visas during that time.

    The April Visa Bulletin indicates that the category is reauthorized and, accordingly, we are already seeing cases moving forward in the normal course. Our theory is that EB-5 visa demand has NOT subsided; but merely that processing the cases had slowed down. It remains to be seen whether the consulates will “catch up” over the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

    No one knows for certain how long backlog times will be as family sizes change over time and many cases are denied / withdrawn/ revoked. We would continue to advise our India-chargeable clients to brace for retrogression, although perhaps its onset may be delayed for several months.

    None of these developments profoundly affect other worldwide chargeable investors (e.g. Canada, the U.K.) Contact us today for more information relating to EB-5 and whether it is an appropriate solution for your family’s U.S. immigration needs.

  • 2018: A Record Year for Grenada Citizenship by Investment

    by Esther Dressler | Apr 02, 2019

    Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme allows individuals and their families to obtain citizenship or permanent residence for the island country through making investments in the local economy. Investors dismayed by longer wait times or onerous financial commitments in other countries have increasingly looked to Grenada as a viable option for them and their families. And, of course, Grenadian citizenship may also allow one to qualify for an E-2 visa.

    Since it’s founding, the program has grown tremendously in scale, reaching unprecedented levels in popularity in both investors and funds raised for the country in 2018. Recently published figures reveal the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme granted 851 passports in 2018, a 21% increase on the year before, and raised EC$ 147 million (US$ 54 million) in income, a 25.8% improvement.

    Clearly, word is getting out about the significant advantages that Grenadian citizenship offers investors. Both in terms of the benefits that the citizenship itself provides, such as access to universal healthcare and reputable universities, as well as the access to different visa opportunities in countries worldwide. Understanding this strong trend, our office has made a concerted effort to connect with local experts and government officials in order to provide our clientele with expertise and leadership on how to navigate the program.

    Since the program’s relaunch in 2014, a total of 2,080 individuals have obtained Grenadian citizenship by virtue of their participation in the program. During the same period, main applicants filed 875 applications, of which the Grenada authorities approved 615 and rejected 57 (an overall rejection rate of 8.4%), indicating that a further 203 applications still await adjudication.

    Investment type preferences have remained virtually unchanged for the last two years; 34% of applicants opted for the program’s approved project option (36% did so in 2017), while 66% elected the transformation fund option (64% the year prior). A new, somewhat hybrid option, was recently made available.

    To find out more about the Citizenship by Investment Program in Grenada, its benefits, and to assess your qualifications, please contact ​us to arrange a consultation.