The President’s Immigration Ban: Update

President Trump has signed the Executive Order temporarily suspending some visa categories for an initial 60 days. This mostly applies to people outside the United States seeking permanent residency / Green Cards, excluding the EB-5 program.
The State Department has just issued a clarification stating that the Order is not retroactive and that “no valid visas will be revoked under this proclamation.”
There are a number of exclusions and exemptions. We recommend you contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

What is NOT included in the ban:

What is also NOT included in the ban, but subject to a 30-day review:

E-3 Australian Professional Specialty Visa

EB-5 Visas Exemption
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa has been given a special exemption from the ban. EB-5 is a job-creating program. Each EB-5 investment is required to create ten American jobs. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a fast route to a Green Card for families or individuals able to invest $900,000.

Review of Non-Immigrant Visas
The Executive Order only covers immigrants outside the United States seeking permanent residency (Green Cards). Non-immigrant categories, such as the E-2 Visa, the L-1 Visa, and the H-1B Visa are not currently included in the ban.
However, the Executive Order does call for a review of non-immigrant programs within 30 days with a view to “other measures” affecting these categories. The Order instructs the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State to report recommendations to the President within 30 days regarding restrictions (if any) on non-immigrant visas.

Adjustment of Status
The order only applies to those seeking immigrant visas (i.e. those outside the US seeking to go through consular processing). It does not impact those inside the US already on a valid visa that are eligible to do Adjustment of Status (AOS). Clients should consult us before traveling outside of the United States if they have a pending AOS application or may be eligible to file one in the near future.

Our Advice
We recommend that anyone seeking a US visa proceed with their application. Much can change in the time it takes to prepare one.
With flights grounded and American embassies closed to consular appointments, the Executive Order makes limited material difference in the short term. There are likely to be a number of lawsuits challenging the ban. This is also an election year. A new administration could be expected to reverse this Order.
We will provide updates on the 30-day review of non-immigrant visas. Some non-immigrant categories, such as the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, bring investment to the United States and create jobs.

Each client’s circumstances are different. Please contact us to discuss how this may affect you.

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The President’s Immigration Ban: Why you Should Still Apply for a Visa

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.

 

President Trump tweeted last night that he would sign an executive order banning immigration to the United States. While it is still unclear how this will play out, it is only likely to be a temporary setback. Anyone hoping to apply for a US visa should continue as normal if their circumstances permit.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy,” the president tweeted, “as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States.”

Beyond the tweet, there is very little detail on what would be covered in the executive order. Immigration is a broad concept in the United States, ranging from asylum and the rights of undocumented workers to green cards for investors under the EB-5 Visa program. Would, for example, spouses of Americans (K-1 visas) be included in a ban?

Despite the lack of detail, it might still be advisable for would-be immigrants to press on with their applications. For one thing, any ban would likely cause a build-up of demand. Therefore, progressing an application would help secure a good position in the line once a ban is lifted.

While it is difficult to predict when such a lifting would occur (especially as the ban has not yet been ordered), there are still clues. For starters, President Trump said in his tweet this would only be temporary. Moreover, there are also likely to be legal challenges as there were over Executive Order 13769, the so-called “Muslim Ban”. Additionally, this being an election year, a change of administration in January 2021 would likely result in a reversal.

The second, closely related reason to persevere with an application is that it takes time to prepare one. Davies & Associates specializes in EB-5 visas, E-2 visas, and L-1 visas, all of which require significant preparation. This work could still be conducted while a ban was in progress.

Under the EB-5 program an entire family can obtain Green Cards in exchange for a minimum $900,000 investment. The US authorities are meticulous that each dollar is properly accounted for, and this can take time to document.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which processes EB-5 applications, is still operating in spite of Coronavirus. While they are closed to public interactions, they continue to adjudicate cases. Processing times currently range from 30 to 50 months. Reform to the EB-5 adjudications process will probably reduce this, but it nevertheless points to a time frame much greater than a temporary immigration ban.

The E-2 visa allows a family to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business. The applicant must pitch a credible business case to the US authorities, which takes time to prepare.

E-2 applicants must come from an E-2 Treaty Country. If you are not from an E-2 Treaty country, it is possible to become eligible for an E-2 visa by first taking citizenship of a country that is eligible. The cheapest and most cost-effective of these is Grenada, Turkey and Montenegro.

Processing times for these citizenship-by-investment programs are quick. In Grenada, for example, citizenship can be obtained in less than three months. The Grenadian authorities are still processing applications, despite a strict lockdown. There is no requirement to visit the country so applications can be made remotely.

Davies & Associates has helped clients obtain the E-2 visa in this way. Countries non directly eligible for the E-2 visa include India, China, Russia, Vietnam, South Africa and Nigeria. Davies & Associates has helped people from non-Treaty countries become eligible for the E-2 visa.

The L-1A visa moves managers within the same company, from an overseas office to an American one. At D&A we specialize in so-called “new office” L1s. This is where we help clients set up a US branch of their existing business and then move themselves or a colleague there to manage the new office.

Inevitably it is necessary to set up the US office before applying for the visa. Again, this is work that could be done regardless of an immigration ban. Our corporate lawyers have helped hundreds of foreign businesses relocate and thrive in the United States.

So, given the time it takes to prepare a visa application and the uncertainty surrounding the ban, it is advisable to start applying regardless. The USCIS and American embassies would likely face a backlog once any ban is lifted. Secure yourself a good position in the queue by proceeding with your application.

 


EB-5 Visa Availability Now Determines I-526 Approvals Process

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.

 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has changed the way it processes I-526 petitions. Instead of operating the first-come-first-served approach, adjudications are now being determined by visa availability.

An I-526 petition is the application for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa. This program offers a relatively straightforward path to a Green Card for families or individuals able to invest $900,000 to create ten jobs in the United States.

Under the previous approach, all I-526 applications were processed in the order in which they arrived at USCIS. This meant that resources were allocated to adjudicating I-526 forms submitted from mainland China, even though there is a long wait for visas for people born there.

The popularity of EB-5 in China means that the country has far exceeded its annual quota of 700 visas / no more than seven percent of the total 10,000 available visas for a given year. People born in mainland China currently face a multiple-year wait for an EB-5 visa.

Under the first-come-first-served approach, USCIS was compelled to adjudicate Chinese applications in sequence – only for them to sit in another queue once approved. Under the new system, USCIS is able to prioritize applications from people from countries that do not face a wait for a visa.

In practice, this means removing applications from mainland China from the queue until such a time as visas become available. The aim of the change is to reduce processing times for applicants from underrepresented countries. Standard processing times currently take up to 50 months.

Besides China, the other two countries with the greatest number of EB-5 applications are India and Vietnam. Neither is expected to be affected by this processing change in the short term. The priority dates for both countries are actually forecast to become “current” once again in the visa bulletin this summer.

However, it should be caveated that this may well be the artificial result of processing issues
at USCIS. Once these are worked through, visa availability would quickly diminish and applications from India and Vietnam would be placed on the backburner with China.

One upside to having an application pending for longer at USCIS is that a child might not “age out” while waiting for a visa to become available. A single EB-5 application can cover an entire family provided the children are under the age of 21.

In a quirk of the system, a child’s age is “frozen” while the application is pending with USCIS and they begin “aging” again once it is approved. This means some families see a child pass the age threshold after they have been approved but before a visa has become available. In this case, the child would require their own separate EB-5 application to move to the United States with the rest of the family. By having an application “pending” for longer, aging out would become less of a critical issue.

In spite of these changes, it is still possible to jump the queue by paying to expedite an I-526 petition. It is also possible to force USCIS to act on a pending application if you feel your EB-5 application has been unreasonably delayed. By filing a writ of mandamus in federal court, USCIS can be compelled to act on your I-526. Oftentimes, the mere threat of legal action will compel USCIS to adjudicate without needing to go the whole way towards litigation.

Our team has filed dozens of successful writs of mandamus actions against USCIS for unreasonably delaying immigrant petitions. We can assist regardless of whether your I-526 application was prepared by Davies & Associates.

To remain compliant with the EB-5 program, an applicant’s investment must create and sustain ten full-time American jobs. To ensure compliance, the vast majority of investors place their investments with a Regional Center.

Regional Centers use the investment to fund construction projects like hotels, condominiums and retail complexes. These projects require significant amounts of labor which ensures compliance with the job-creation requirement.

It is important to invest with a reputable Regional Center to maximize the chance of the return of your investment. Davies & Associates is able to provide due diligence on Regional Center projects.


Seven Ways for Indians to Visit, Work, or Live in the United States

The United States of America is a nation that welcomes people from all over the world to be part of their coexistent culture. However, it can be confusing to understand the process of migrating to the country. While traveling abroad can be a great adventure in itself, it takes a great deal of preparation, planning, and form-filling before you can actually leave for the country. Here are seven ways Indians can visit, work, or even live in the US:

Apply for a US Visa and an EAD

You should have a US visa and a work permit aka Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be employed in the States. As you delve further into the process, you’ll know that such visas have been classified into seasonal work visas, temporary work visas, exchange work visas, or even permanent work visas. You can obtain a US Visa from the US Consulate in your country.

Employment-based immigration

If you’re planning to study in the United States, apply for an F1 student visa. You should be enrolled as a full-time student at a language-training programme or an academic institute in the United States, prove your financial stability to finance your studies, and that you will maintain your identity as a foreign resident.

Apply for a green card

Formally called the United States Lawful Permanent Residency, a green card authorizes a non-immigrant to study, work, and live permanently in the States. Permanent residency becomes easier if you have a family member or are employed full-time in a company in the States. The family or employment agency in concern would be thus called your sponsor. For more information, check the USCIS website if you want to apply for an ‘adjustment of status’ if you belong to the categories mentioned.

Apply for an EB-5 visa

If you want to invest in the States, apply for an EB-5 visa to invest in a commercial project as a foreign investor. Begin by investing $50,000 in a commercial project based in the States for a duration of five years. In 18 months, you shall acquire conditional green cards that permit you and your family to study, work and live in the States. The project in question must have 10 or more American employees for a period of two years, after which you can acquire permanent resident green cards. You will get back your investment after five years from your first day in the United States.

Apply for an E-2 work visa

An E-2 work visa enables a resident from a treaty country to work in the United States; in other words, they sponsor themselves into the country. Though you invest an amount according to the company and industry, rates usually stay somewhere between $75,000 to $200,000. Moreover, spouses are permitted to work in the United States as well. Such visas can be extended for up to five years and be renewed for an indefinite number of times. If you’re lucky, you might just move forward in line for an EB-5 direct green card as well. Indians are not currently eligible for E-2 visas, but it is possible to first become a citizen of a country that is eligible. This includes Grenada in the West Indies, which is an E-2 Treaty nation to the United States.

Fiancé/Fiancée visa

The non-US fiancé/fiancée in question must apply for a K-1 non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States and marry their partner, who acts as their sponsor as well. However, the couple must get married within 90 days of arrival.

Become a lawful permanent resident

You can become a permanent US citizen only after continuously living in the States for a period of five years. Though you can make short trips overseas, you require a minimum of 30 months of continuous residency. The period will be reduced to three years instead of five if you’re in the military, or are married to a US citizen. As expected, you are required to follow the rules of the state.

These are the seven ways Indians can start a new life in the United States. If you want more information regarding the same, contact us at www.usimmigrationadvisor.com.


5 Non-Immigrant Visas for the USA

There are many different type of non-immigrant visas for people wishing to work, study or do business in the USA. If you select the wrong visa, you may be denied entry at the United States border, or in the worst case, you might face a ban on entering the country. It is important to be aware of the different types of visa,


1. Business Visa: The B1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the USA for people wishing to visit America to conduct business. It is for people who want to attend a conference or a business meeting in the United States. Importantly, this american business visa does not allow a person to set up a new business in the USA. You must apply at least 60 days before the date you want to travel. Avoid buying air tickets in advance if you have not received your visa yet.


2. Work Visa: There are various categories for this type of visas like H, L, O, P and Q. Which one you need depends on the type of your work for which you are going the USA. These types of visas are also temporary and holders of these visas cannot stay in the USA for a lifetime. Once your visa expires you will have to return to your country of origin. You can not get the visa until USCIS approves your petition.

3. Student Visa: People who want to study in any school or college in the USA have to apply for student visa. You may be asked to pass a certain language test for eligibility. By this test, they see how efficiently you can read, write, listen and speak that particular language. Most of them ask for an English language test. When you are on a student visa you can not take a break for more than 5 months or you may lose your visa.

4. Artists and Athletes Visa: Professional artists like actors, singers and stage performers can apply for this visa type. It includes actors shooting a movie, stage performance and attending an awards show. Athletes can also apply for the visa if there is a tournament or match to attend.

5. Media and Journalist Visa: Journalists can apply for an I visa which allows them to travel to the United States so that they can cover American news for their domestic audiences.


Tips on How to Get Your Green Card for the USA

Obtaining a green card for the United States is something which most people wish to achieve. The US green card gives you the permission to live in the United States and even work there permanently. It also grants you the permission to be able to apply for citizenship. You are allowed to travel freely to and fro from the US, study there and also can participate in the employment programs which are conducted in the US. You also get US government benefits if you own a green card in the US.

Obtaining a green card is a somewhat complicated procedure. Below listed are some of the tips which can be followed to get a US green card:

1) If you marry a citizen of the United States, then you can get a US green card easily. If your loved one belongs to the US and has American citizenship, then after marrying, you are eligible to obtain a green card. However, just for getting a green card for the US, if you marry or date someone, then it is regarded as a case of immigration fraudulence.

2) If any of your family member who resides in the United States and has American citizenship is willing to sponsor you for obtaining a green card, then you can also be able to acquire US citizenship. US citizens have the option of sponsoring their family or relatives staying in another country to obtain a green card through their sponsorship. However, this type of sponsorship can take up to a few months to even years for obtaining it. You should always carefully find out the priority dates and the approximate wait time before deciding to get a green card for the US through this method.

3) You can also obtain a green card if a US-based company sponsors you. If you have the required and necessary skills and knowledge which a US company needs, then you can get sponsored by that company for obtaining a green card. If you do not live in the United States, then you can contact employers of the US companies to sponsor you in this regard. It can be complicated for you to obtain a green card if you do not have any contacts or sources in the US.

4) If you have enough money and resources and can afford to start your own business in the United States or invest in any US-based company, then you can obtain a green card. However, this method involves large capital investments and money.

5) You can also try your luck by taking part in the Green Card Lottery. If you are lucky enough to be randomly chosen amongst all the other applicants, then the process of obtaining a US green card will be a rather more simple and quick process for you.

If you really wish to permanently live and work in the United States and acquire a green card, then you should keep in mind to apply for a green card in the US in such a way which offers you permanent residence in the United States quickly and easily.