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  • 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

  • Matthew Galati Presents at EB-5 Investors Magazine’s Fall Ho Chi Minh City Conference

    by Niki Edwards | Sep 13, 2018

    On September 8, Green and Spiegel’s EB-5 Section Head Matthew Galati presented at EB-5 Investors Magazine’s Fall 2018 Ho Chi Minh City Conference. Galati served as the chair/moderator of a panel entitled “Hot EB-5 Issues for Vietnamese Investors,” which discussed a wide variety of current events and trends in the program.

    The Panel, consisting of four immigration attorneys and Vietnamese EB-5 consulting firm IMMICA, covered Vietnam-centric issues including visa retrogression, currency swaps, capital redeployment, and other hot topics. Green and Spiegel also sponsored a panel entitled “EB-5 Project Due Diligence: Project evaluation criteria considering the current state of EB-5 program and Vietnam Market,” featuring four regional center representatives and Vietnamese EB-5 consulting firm IBID.

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

    With a U.S. practice founded in the early 1990s, Green and Spiegel offers a full range of inbound immigration services for employers, temporary workers, individuals and their families. Expanding upon the Firm’s Canadian roots, the U.S. practice represents clients operating in the healthcare, insurance, professional sports, information technology, and many other industries. As a dedicated immigration-only law firm, Green and Spiegel also caters to entrepreneurs, investors, and start-ups seeking immigration benefits. The Firm includes five partners and approximately 130 employees offering services in over 30 different languages.

    Matt in Vietnam

    Matt in Vietnam

  • Grenada CBI Committee Names New Program Enhancements, Unit CEO

    by Niki Edwards | Sep 12, 2018

    The Grenadian CBI program is poised for massive improvements in the very near future. In a circular dated September 10 (attached to this post below), Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Committee Chairperson Kaisha Ince announced significant reforms that will liberalize the CBI program, while committing to bring down already relatively quick processing times.

    Most significantly for prospective investors, the CBI Committee will broaden the scope of an investor’s dependents also eligible for citizenship. New dependents include:

    • Unmarried brothers and sisters / brothers- and sisters-in law of the investor who do not have children;
    • Parents who are not financially dependent on the main applicant (as had been required previously); and
    • Children over the age of 18 who are not enrolled in a college or university. Dependent children may accordingly acquire citizenship up to the age of 30.

    Another game-chang​er is the new ability to acquire citizenship through the secondary purchase of real estate units in CBI-approved projects. Accordingly, provided all other requirements are met, an applicant might be able to acquire citizenship through the purchase real estate from a previous CBI applicant, providing an opportunity for much greater flexibility in entering and exiting approved real estate projects.

    While not effective immediately, the circular notes that these new legislative provisions are anticipated to go into effect later this month.   Beyond these changes, the program has also named Mr. Thomas Anthony to the position of Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.

    Green and Spiegel has demonstrated experience in Grenadian CBI, including multiple marketing subagent licensures. For more information regarding acquiring a Grenadian passport or an E-2 nonimmigrant investor visa thereafter, please contact us today.

  • PREMIUM PROCESSING FEE INCREASES BY ALMOST 15%

    by Mulaho Hassan | Sep 05, 2018

    On August 31, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would be increasing the premium processing filing fee from $1,225 to $1,410, effective October 1, 2018. The Premium processing fee is an optional service available for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. This service enables petitioners a truncated processing time of 15 days. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee (along with any other fees).

    USCIS stated that the increase is in line with the Immigration and Nationality Act, and “represents the percentage change in inflation since the fee was last increased in 2010 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.” After rounding, the fee is increasing by 14.92 percent.

     As the updated fee goes into effect October 1, 2018, all applications postmarked on or after that date must include the new fee. If you are interested in utilizing this service, contact us today to talk about your options.

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

    by Mulaho Hassan | Aug 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

    by Matt Galati | Aug 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

  • Lawsuit Filed to Relieve EB-5 Quota of Derivatives

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 13, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 13, 2018

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

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

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

    by Niki Edwards | Aug 03, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Matt in Grenada  

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