Articles Posted in Investors

chasing-the-markets-182457-m.jpgIn October 2011, the US Citizenship & Immigration Service began a new initiative called the “Entrepreneur in Residence” (EIR) program and launched a new interactive website a year later called “Entrepreneur Pathways,” intending to emphasize a new USCIS horizon in the usage of various visa types to welcome foreign investors to the United States. One of the visa categories listed in the new website is the intracompany transferee (L-1) visa.

The USCIS announced its intentions to work with the investor community and to become more pragmatic in the manner the agency reviews and adjudicates visa petitions and applications filed by international investors wishing to establish new businesses in the United States. The investor community and their immigration attorneys hailed the program as a step in the right direction to utilize various visa categories including the B-1 visitor’s visa, for example, and other unconventional visa categories as means to widen the visa path for international entrepreneurs to invest in the US.

Even after the introduction of the EIR initiative, the USCIS remains very cautious in the manner it reviews intracompany L-1 visa petitions. One can argue that the EIR did little to improve the adjudication personality of the USCIS when it comes to intracompany L-1 visa transfers. When planning to file an L-1 visa petition for a new or existing office, it is critical to work with competent immigration counsel specifically with experience in submitting intracompany L-1 visa petitions.

writing-check-678948-m.jpgIf you are a foreign national interested in taking advantage of the immigrant investor visa program, before you invest your $500,000 or your $1 million, be careful that you do not become an EB-5 scam victim. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have recently become aware of investment scams targeting foreign nationals who make investments through the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

The EB-5 investor visa program allows a foreign national to make a capital investment of $1 million in a new US commercial enterprise that will create jobs in the United States. This investment minimum is lowered to $500,000 if the investment is made in a targeted employment area. As a result of making this investment, the immigrant investor receives US lawful permanent resident status with a conditional green card. After a two year period, the conditional residency may become permanent if certain job creation requirements are met.
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1237498_untitled.jpgForeign entrepreneurs who are interested in coming to the United States to start up a business may have several immigration pathways to choose from. There is a wide range of visas available that allow for either temporary or permanent immigration visa status, which may be available depending upon the specific circumstances of each case. These are broken down into two major categories: nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas. Nonimmigrant visas allow for temporary stay in the US, while immigrant visas allow for permanent residence and can lead to US citizenship after five years. Often, a foreign national can begin in a nonimmigrant visa category, and then later adjust status to an immigrant visa category.

Nonimmigrant Visas
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1037536_money_in_hand.jpgThe EB5 immigrant visa category is a way for foreign national investors to obtain lawful permanent residency in the US, otherwise known as the green card. This visa category is for immigrant investors who will be engaged in a commercial enterprise that produces 10 US jobs and will benefit the US economy.

In order for a foreign national to qualify, the person must make an investment of $1 million. The investment requirement lowers to $500,000 if it can be established that the investment will be for what is known as a targeted employment area, which means a rural area or an area having at least 150% of the national unemployment average.
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India Flag.jpgIt is readily apparent that in the few weeks leading up the presidential election, neither President Obama, nor former Governor Romney are willing to commit themselves to any firm and unequivocal stance on employment based, legal, immigration. This reluctance to take a stand further frustrates the thousands of Indian nationals and their employers who have undertaken the emotional, financial and time investment of who have placed themselves at the mercy of the USCIS, US Department of Labor and US Department of State though use of the current employment based preference system. However, while explicit pledges will not be forthcoming from either the current or the potential future president until the elections have passed, their subordinates continue to make the true stance of the candidates known through their actions and interactions with foreign dignitaries. Recent comments from Timothy Geithner, secretary of the treasury (and fifth in the line of succession to the president) to his counterpart in the cabinet of India are indicative of this phenomenon.

Indications of Future Executive Policy toward PERM and H-1B Visas for Indian Nationals.
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1038472_3d_elevation_bar_graph.jpgU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced yesterday that it will create a new office to oversee adjudication of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program. The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to become eligible for permanent residency by making a capital investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States. The new office is needed due to the recent exponential growth of the EB-5 program, which is caused by economic growth from capital invested in the U.S. economy from foreign investors to project developers. More than 3,100 EB-5 petitions were approved by the USCIS in Fiscal Year 2012, which is three times the number of petitions approved in fiscal year 2009.

The size of the USCIS’ EB-5 adjudication team has been quadrupled since 2009. Eight new expert economists have been brought on board to ensure expeditious handling of EB-5 cases. The USCIS plans to hire two new full-time attorneys who will bring transactional experience to the EB-5 team. At the end of July, every pending application for which a denial has been recommended will be reviewed by a special review board consisting of two Supervisory Immigration Services Officers and one economist, and applicants will be given the opportunity to discuss their cases in person before the USCIS renders any final adverse decision. Today, the USCIS is posting an advertisement for a new position titled Chief of Immigrant Investor Programs, who will lead the new office.
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file0001066192156sm.jpgThe Immigrant Investor Program, otherwise known as the “EB-5,” allows foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency (green card) by making a capital investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States. Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990 as a way to stimulate the economy by creating jobs. A commercial enterprise is defined as any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to a sole proprietorship, partnership (whether limited or general), holding company, joint venture, corporation, business trust or other entity that may be publicly or privately owned.

One the immigrant investor is admitted to the United States he/she is granted Conditional Permanent Resident status. This status is conditional upon whether 10 full-time jobs are created for qualifying U.S. workers within a two year period. These jobs may be either direct jobs or indirect jobs. Direct jobs are real identifiable jobs for qualified employees situated inside the company in which the immigrant investor has directly invested capital. Indirect jobs are those that were made collaterally or as a consequence of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an immigrant investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.
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360px-Curly3.jpgImmigrants and advocates for immigrants’ employment rights have had several victories in recent weeks, with many challenges remaining. First, the Obama administration announced a policy of “deferred action” for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and meet certain criteria for education or military service. Qualifying immigrants may obtain work authorization if the government approves an application for deferred action. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Arizona v. United States last week overturning several employment provisions in Arizona’s immigration law. One provision struck down by the court would have made it a state crime for an immigrant to work without authorization. The court held that this infringed on the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration. Now, a recent study suggests that the state of Ohio lags behind the rest of the country in its immigrant workforce, but that the state could benefit from more immigration. At the same time, some surveys suggest that public opinion is turning against further immigration.

A recent survey of immigration and employment statistics by the Dayton Daily News reportedly found that the rate of growth of immigrant groups in Ohio is slower than in other states. The rate of growth appears explosive over the past twenty years, with the total number of immigrant workers in the state doubling and an increase of over sixty percent in the number of immigrants owning small businesses. The rate of growth of the immigrant worker population, however, places Ohio in forty-second place nationally. Between 1990 and 2010, immigrant workers went from 2.5 percent of Ohio’s workforce to 4.7 percent, but the national average is sixteen percent. In terms of immigrant small business owners, Ohio’s growth rate puts it in thirty-seventh place among the thirty-nine states with available data.
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Dayton-ohio-skyline_05212012.jpgThe City of Dayton, Ohio made headlines last year when the City Commission voted unanimously to make the city “immigrant-friendly.” This includes supporting immigrant communities both in business and community involvement. The policy has now met with some success in boosting the city’s economy. Of particular note is how the city has called on its immigrant community to draw in more immigrants. The policy has drawn both positive and negative reactions, both from within Dayton and from around the country.

The city’s “Welcome Dayton” plan began with a review by Dayton’s Human Relations Council of alleged housing discrimination affecting Latino residents. This occurred amid the national debate over immigration sparked by tough new state-level immigration laws passed in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere. Certain city officials recognized the benefits that immigrants can bring to a new community. With a dwindling population and a local economy that has been stagnant at best, supporting immigrant-friendly policies made political sense. The City Commission unanimously approved the Welcome Dayton plan on October 5, 2011. It features support for immigrant-owned business start-ups, encouragement of immigrant involvement in city government, language services, and immigrant access to public health and other services.
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