Roll Over of Employment-Based Green Card Quotas

A large chunk of last year’s quota is going to waste, but there is likely to be a rollover from this year’s unused quota

By Tishita Agarwal

A recent report suggested that close to 100,000 employment based visas, or green cards, are liable to go to waste if they are not issued by the end of the month. A green card, or US Permanent Residency, is issued to show the bearer can reside permanently in the United States.

The quota for this year’s employment-based visas is set at 261,500 – much higher than the usual cut-off of 140,000 because of overspill from last year’s allocation that was not used because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, if they are not issued by the end of the month, they will all go to waste because the annual visa allocations reset on October 1 of each year. That said, the overspill from this year will likely result in another bumper year for employment-based Green Cards next year (October 2021 to September 2022).

Many are blaming this situation on the Biden administration, citing slow assignments and unchanging protocols and reaction times as the reason why the US government has been so slow to approve green cards and why the new quota will not be filled. In fact, about 125 Indian and Chinese professionals living in the US have also issued a lawsuit against the Biden administration on this issue. It is reported that almost 136,000 children from Indian families had to deport or transfer to a student visa when they became of age because they got caught up in this visa backlog. 

However, this is only part of the picture – the United States Citizenship and Immigration Servicies (USCIS) has been affected by Covid lockdowns and staff shortages due to the pandemic. Similarly, embassies and consulates around the world are effected by the ebb and flow of lockdowns and the need to keep staff safe in each respective country.

Since this is an ongoing issue, this year’s unused allocation will roll over and should be more available if embassies and USCIS reopen as hoped.

The increased quota was a result of an unusually low number of family-based green cards being approved in the fiscal year 2020, causing them to ‘roll over’ into this fiscal year. As a result, USCIS had an obligation to approve more employment-based green cards than usual, and announced that it will accept applications from thousands of immigrants who had been waiting for years, some even decades. Employment-based green cards are subject to annual quotas based upon your country of birth. This quota takes no account of a country’s population, which means that the world’s most populous countries India and China have the same annual quota as small countries with tiny populations.

The result is that China and Indian applicants for various employment-based Green Cards face waiting lists. You can read about the latest in our upcoming analysis of the September visa bulletin. Generally speaking China faces a long wait for the EB-5 Investor Visa category (EB standing for Employment-Based) and India faces long waits in the EB-3 highly skilled worker category. Vietnam also faces shorter delays for EB-5 visa and India is often close to the annual allocation for EB-5 (which is approx 700 visas per country per year not counting any rollovers).

Our clients are always reminded that non-immigrant (non-permanent) alternatives are available and can be used as a stop-gap to live in the United States. The two strongest options are the L-1 Visa, which allows you to set up a US office of your foreign company and transfer to manage that business, or the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which allows you to move to the US for the purposes of investing in and running a business in America. Spouses can apply for a work permit under both the L-1 Visa and the E-2 Visa. To be eligible for an E-2 Visa, you must be from an E-2 country. India in not an E-2 Visa country, which means you must first obtain citizenship of an E-2 country like Grenada or Turkey to become eligible

As always, the best option is to speak to our team who can explore all the various options and help you to select the best immigration solution for you, your family and/or your business.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


EB-1, E-2 Visa for NIEs during Covid

Travelling to the United States During Covid: Extension to National Interest Exception (NIEs)

Life in America is returning to something resembling normality following a successful roll out of Covid-19 vaccines. However, disruption continues at the border with travelers from Europe (Schengen area), the UK, Ireland, China, India, Iran, Brazil and South Africa still banned unless you can obtain a National Interest Exception (NIE).

While restrictions may soon lift on the UK and Europe, the entry restrictions on the other countries show not sign of abating in the short term. Consequently, the State Department has extended the validity of NIEs to twelve months, permitting multiple entry to the US, so long as they are used for the purpose for which they are granted.

National Interest Exceptions permit travel to the United States, despite border restrictions. As the name suggests, you must be able to prove that your visit is in the US national interest.

Acceptable definitions of national interest include:

  • Directing significant economic activity
  • Journalist work
  • Supporting public health initiatives
  • Extraordinary humanitarian grounds

We have helped multiple clients obtain National Interest Exceptions permitting them to travel to the United States. Many of our E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, L-1 Employee Transfer Visa, New Office L-1 Visa and EB-1c International Manager or Executive Green Card clients may be eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs). The same may be true for people on talent visas, such as the O-1 Visa, the EB-1a Visa, the EB-NIW, EB2 Visa, and other categories.

This issue only affects people coming from certain countries who are not permitted entry to the United States based upon high levels (current or historic) of Covid-19. As the pandemic evolves, new countries may be added to this list, whilst others may be removed. The countries as of today (July 8th) are:

  • China,
  • Iran,
  • Brazil,
  • South Africa,
  • the Schengen Area (Europe),
  • the United Kingdom,
  • Ireland,
  • India

Contact us to discuss how this affects you. Do not arrange travel to the US if you are either in or planning to visit any of the countries on the list above.

Read the State Department’s post.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


How Could a Writ of Mandamus help with the Upcoming EB-5 Visa Reauthorization?

Biden Reverses Trump-era Policy on Visa Rejection Procedure

Immigration officers can no longer reject visa applications without first issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny

By Tishita Agarwal

In 2018, the Trump administration set a policy that would allow immigration officers to reject visa applications for visas such as the H1-B Visas, L-1 Visas, H-2B, J-1, J-2, I, F and O-1 visas, without issuing a Notice of Intent to Deny. This Trump-era policy invalidated the principle of a June 2013 USCIS memo that required immigration officers to issue a Request For Evidence or a Notice Of Intent to Deny when the case suggests that additional or supplementary evidence could potentially establish eligibility for an immigration benefit. 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a statement that it was returning to the principles of the June 2013 memo. This means the officers will be allowed to request potential missing documents that could qualify a case. Furthermore, this move will not only help requesters get an “opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions”, but also increase access to the US legal immigration system in general. 

This is not the first time that Biden has overturned immigration policies set by the Trump administration. In fact, right on the first day of his term, President Biden had announced several executive policy changes to the US immigration system, including suspending the construction of the wall at the Mexican border and reaffirming protections for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

Along with changing their guidance towards notice of intent to deny and requests for evidence, the USCIS issued a statement that they are also increasing the validity period for certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from one year to two years. Increasing the validity for these documents will allow the USCIS to shift their limited resources to priority areas, as it is projected to reduce the number of employment authorisation requests they receive. 

These recent decisions are all steps in the direction the Biden-Harris administration promised at the start of their term in an effort to make immigration to the US easier and fairer and eliminate unnecessary barriers on all levels; as put by the Secretary of Homeland security Alejandro N. Mayorkas: “We are taking action to eliminate policies that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system and will continue to make improvements that help individuals navigate the path to citizenship, and that modernise our immigration system”. 

In furtherance to the same, Acting USCIS Director also said “These policy measures are consistent with the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities to eliminate unnecessary barriers to our nation’s legal immigration system and reduce burdens on non-citizens who may be eligible for immigration benefits”.

While this action is in the right direction, the Biden-Harris administration has far to go before the US legal immigration system is not as congested and inefficient as it is currently. 

What is the L-1 Visa?

* The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, which can be used by active US employers or those who wish to establish in the US to send experienced and skilled employees from overseas to the US to grow or expand the business. There are two types of this temporary work visa – the L-1A is for executives and managers, and the L-1B visa is suited for high-level employees with specialised knowledge. 

What is the O-1 Visa?

The O-1 visa on the other hand, requires the applicant to show remarkable skill or high levels of achievement in their field to be able to qualify. This is also a nonimmigrant visa, and is suitable for candidates that possess and demonstrate an extraordinary ability in science, the arts, education, business, athletics, or film & television and a variety of other professions. This means that a candidate must have sustained national or international acclaim in their field, or a distinction or record of extraordinary achievement in film and television. An O-1 beneficiary must possess either a major, internationally recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize; or at least 3 of the alternative criteria.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Investor Visa Application

EB-5 Investor Visa Reauthorization in June 2021. What you need to know.




The EB-5 Regional Center program is facing reauthorization in June 2021. This has resulted in some uncertainty for current and future clients. Although we do not predict issues for people who file before June 30, there are ways to mitigate your risk:


1. If you are a D&A client, your case was recently approved and you reside outside of the US, we have already contacted the EB-5 unit at USCIS asking them to expedite the transfer of your file to the NVC so that visa processing can begin as soon as possible 

2. If your case was recently approved and you live in the US, we should file your Adjustment of Status application as soon as possible  

3. If your Form I-526 petition is still pending, you may wish to consider a Writ of Mandamus (more on this below)

Click here to learn more about the EB-5 Investor Visa
Click here to contact us to discuss your case directly

Background to Current EB-5 Situation

The EB-5 Regional Center program is currently authorized on a temporary basis.  This means that the program is authorized for a discrete period of time and then it expires unless the temporary authorization is extended.

The EB-5 RC Program is currently authorized through June 30, 2021.  This June 30 date is different than those prior authorization end dates because this is the first time that the EB-5  Program authorization is not tied in with the Federal budget appropriations bill.  In the past, when the budget bill would pass, it would mean the EB-5 RC Program would automatically be extended.  In December 2019 Congress decoupled the EB-5 RC Program authorization from the budget, so that means Congress needs to pass a separate bill to extend the EB-5 RC program.  
 
Senators Grassley and Leahy have a bill drafted that will extend the EB-5 RC Program permanently but it will need receive the approval votes of a majority of Senators to pass.  We are optimistic that it will pass in some format and thus there will be no interruption in the EB-5 RC Program.  However, until it passes, there is obviously some uncertainty on what might happen after June 30.  

USCIS has not given any clarity about what will happen (1) if there is a gap between June 30 and when a new EB-5 RC law is passed or (2) if Congress never passes a new EB-5 RC law and the EB-5 RC Program authorization permanently expires on June 30.  

Our View on Reauthorization of EB-5 RC Program

We are optimistic that in the scenario where there is a gap in time between June 30 and when a new law is passed it will not impact any EB-5 petitions that were filed prior to June 30, 2021.  There have been periods of time in the past when the federal budget did not pass in a timely manner and thus the EB-5 RC Program experienced short periods when it was unauthorized—those short periods of time when the EB-5 RC Program experienced a gap in authorization did not have any impact on the EB-5 applications that were pending with USCIS at the time.  We are also optimistic that even in the unlikely event that Congress never passes a new law that reauthorizes the EB-5 RC Program that USCIS will continue to process all EB-5 related benefits for those who had pending or approved Form I-526 petitions as of June 30.

IIUSA’s View on EB-5 RC Program Reauthorization

In the last two weeks a well-known and respected EB-5 lawyer presented IIUSA’s view on the EB-5 RC Program reauthorization. This view is that if the EB-5 Regional Center Program is not reauthorized, then anyone who is not in the United States on a “conditional green card” on June 30, 2021 will have their EB-5 application terminated and will then have to re-apply all over again (probably with fresh funds) if and when the program comes-back.

How This Impacts My Case

1.         What if I have not filed my EB-5 petition (I-526) before June 30, 2021?:

If the program is allowed to expire in June 2021, then you will be unable to obtain a U.S. green card through the EB-5 RC Program and you would have to wait to see if the EB-5 RC Program is brought back in the future.


2.         I have filed an I-526 but it is awaiting adjudication:

Although the risk may be small, under the IIUSA view your case would be terminated and you would have to make a fresh application in a new project in the future.



3.         I have an I-526 approval but I am awaiting a consular interview:

In this circumstance we believe that the risk to you is lower, although under the strict IIUSA view your case would still be terminated.
 

Writ of Mandamus

 If your Form I-526 petition is still pending, you may want to file a complaint against USCIS in Federal court as soon as possible to ask the court to issue a Writ of Mandamus (WoM) that will order USCIS to make a speedy decision on your case.  Please contact us if you would like to discuss this Writ of Mandamus option further.

While our firm has traditionally counselled clients that there is no guarantee with a WoM and that filing a WoM may in fact have no impact on their I-526 case until the I-526 filing has been pending for two years, the June 2021 reauthorization issue changes our views of the risks involved. Please note, filing a WOM requires an additional fee to be paid. 


Please note, EB-5 applications related to direct investment in a company (meaning NOT done through a Regional Center) are not impacted at all by this June 30 reauthorization date.Copyright © *2020* *Davies & Associates*, All rights reserved.


 This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.