An EB-5 Regional Center is an organization designated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that sponsors capital investment projects for investment by EB-5 investors. The major advantage for regional center designation is that the regional center can take advantage of indirect job creation.

EB-5 applicant invests $500,000 into a regional center, and If the process goes smoothly, the entire family could receive their green card in about 12 to 14 months. The money is held for around six years, each year the EB-5 investors are supposed to receive a yearly return on their investment

Is there fraud in the EB 5-regional center programs?

There are some regional centers that have a questionable background and questionable track record. In fact, 2013,the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that The U.S. District Court Judge, ordered the return of more than $147 million in funds to investors who had given capital to the Intercontinental Regional Center Trust of Chicago. And presently there is a regional center in Texas and a regional center in South Dakota that are under investigation by federal authorities.

The foreign investors who invested capital into these regional centers did not receive the proper advice and did not do the proper due diligence before they invested in these regional centers.

It depends on what the EB-5 regional center the investor wants: if he or she wants a large return of their investment, they may choose a risky or regional center that offers a high return.

If they just want their $500,000 return at the end of a six-year time they may choose a regional center with a high success rate who gives a very low return.

 

*** Andrew P. Johnson, a New York Immigration Lawyer, practices immigration law and has litigated immigration cases throughout the country. His office handles all immigration issues and problems. The Law Offices of Andrew P. Johnson has submitted proposed regulations for Congress in order to help streamline the US CIS. In addition, Andrew P. Johnson, has been invited to speak in front of United States ambassadors and United Nations ambassadors regarding all aspects of immigration law. The law office can reach for comments regarding Immigration Reform at 212.693.3355 or apjlaw@gmail.com.

No immigrant can know all the details of Immigration Law, but below is a list of “Dangers” that all immigrants should be aware of so that their situation does not become come worse.

1) Once a Judge orders you deported, and your case has not been re-opened, if you show up at any US CIS office, you may be immediately detained.

2) Before you sign any immigration document, you must know what information is stated in on the form. Stating false facts on an immigration application can bar you from any immigration benefits for life.

3) If anyone says they can get you a social security card or employment authorization card without explaining anything more, it is an extreme likelihood that they are going to file false immigration documents that may bar you from immigration benefits for life.

4) At the end of any immigration form, the applicant must sign and the preparer must sign; if the person who is helping you fill out the form (the preparer) will not sign the application, do not file the form.

5) Avoid attorneys who answer your questions by saying, “Do not worry, I’ll take care of it,” or “Don’t worry, I know people on the inside of immigration,” or “I guarantee a green card.” (there are no guarantees in immigration law)

6) Avoid attorneys who will not provide a written agreement of payment and do not clearly explain your immigration situations and options. If you leave an attorney’s office without knowing your exact immigration situation and options, find a new attorney.

7) Make sure the attorney is real and qualified. If someone claims to be an attorney, ask more questions, a real attorney will not be offended:

Example Questions:

What State are you licensed? (people with degrees outside the US are not allowed to practice law in US)

What other types of law do you practice? (be careful, immigration law is an extremely difficult field of law, if an attorney handles many different non-immigration cases, they may only know a little immigration law)

How often are you in immigration court, and how many years have you practiced immigration laws. (these are usually good indicators of the person competency with current the immigration system)

8) If in Court and you do not plan on leaving the country in the next 3 months, do not take Voluntary Departure (VD), it stops you from getting any immigration benefit for 10 years.

9) With any new law or talk of a new law, scam artists appear everywhere to take advantage of immigrants, and that is the most important time to speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Remember, the law must be pass the Senate and House of Representatives and then usually be signed by the President before the law becomes effective.

10) Make sure you have copy of your entire file, if the attorney refuses to give you a copy, find another attorney.

Andrew P. Johnson, a New York Immigration Lawyer, practices immigration law and has litigated immigration cases throughout the country. His office handles all immigration issues and problems. The Law Offices of Andrew P. Johnson has submitted proposed regulations for Congress in order to help streamline the US CIS. In addition, Andrew P. Johnson, has been invited to speak in front of United States ambassadors and United Nations ambassadors regarding all aspects of immigration law. The law office can reach for comments regarding Immigration Reform at 212.693.3355 or apjlaw@gmail.com.

H – 1B prediction for April 1, 2015

For over 15 years of practicing the immigration law, we have encountered years wherein the H – 1B applications were filled up within the first day, and we’ve seen the H-1B visa program available throughout the entire year. Not only is every year different, in prior years the number of H – 1B has varied. Fortunately, for the last few years the number has remained at 85,000. Last year there were about 50% rejection rate based on a roughly 164,000 H-1B’s submitted. The question we are receiving from our clients is “Do we believe the percentage of rejection will be higher than 50%?” First off, those who have a Masters degree in the United States have an advantage of additional 20,000 H – 1B available to them, and if rejected, their H – 1B application gets move to the regular 65,000 available H – 1Bs. Therefore, our prediction is for the regular 65,000 H – 1Bs that are available by April 1, 2015 for an October 1st, 2015 start date. Based on the economy improving and the H – 1B applications that our clients have already submitted to us to prepare, we are estimating a 50% or 55% rejection rate. We hope that we are incorrect and that more H – 1Bs will be accepted but we have prepared our clients for this possible scenario.

Now that the new Congress will open in January, the question arises as to whether or not there will be more H – 1B’s available for the fiscal year 2015. Last year, about 164,000 H –1B visas were submitted to US CIS and only 65,000 were made available to non-US masters degree and undergraduate applicants. Furthermore, an additional 20,000 were made available only to US masters degree applicants. Therefore, there was roughly a 50% denial rate of all H – 1B applications. This year H – 1B advocates are urging Congress to increase the number to 185,000. However, there are two big obstacles for getting the increase in H – 1B visas. First, the House and Senate have realistically only three months to prepare and pass the bill to be signed by the President. Second, the House and Senate have stated that the President “poisoned the well” with his executive order on immigration. Unfortunately, although this has nothing to do with the business visas, the President’s actions may well encourage the House and Senate to do nothing with respect to increasing the H – 1B visas for the fiscal year 2015.

Since only less than 50% of H-1B applicants were chosen this year for the lottery, there exist a dilemma of what to do next? Some applicants are able to apply for H-2B visas which are considered as seasonal visas. The applicants usually apply for an 11 month visa, and then have the option to file the application for H – 1B visa again in April 1, 2015. Depending on the circumstances of the company, the H – 2B will serve as a stop gap to allow the applicant another chance for the H – 1B lottery in 2015. Another option is an L-1A Multinational Executive Visa, and in some cases an L – 2B visa. Whether or not the applicant is eligible depends on the circumstances of the US company applying for him or her, and also the educational background and work experiences in their home country. In fact some applicants move to an F – 1 and take college courses, or even courses such as cooking, drawing or music classes while they wait to reapply in April 1, 2015 for the H – 1B lottery. Unfortunately, until Congress decides to increase the H – 1B visas per year to over 200,000, which was the case six years ago, applicants will have to find creative ways to stay in the United States while they wait to be chosen for the H – 1B lottery.

H-1b visa 2014 cap program reform

As the economy improves, the demand for H – 1B visas steadily increase. This year 189,000 H – 1B’s were rejected. Congress has many problems, but the key problem is trying to do a major immigration reform bill. A congressman who wants to increase the number of approved H1-B visas per year is being hostage by other congressmen who want to have reforms on illegal immigration policies. But the H-1B issue has nothing to do with the other. Both the House and the Senate believe that there should be legal immigration into the country. But some members refuse to look at the bill since it doesn’t include reforms for illegal immigration. Which interest group is holding the other interest hostaged? For example, Silicon Valley wants H-1B visas increased substantially but indifferent to reforms for illegal immigrants. However, they are forced to be in the group of the Pro-Amnesty legislation because they want some action for the Business immigration reform. A simple Bill should be put forward in Congress to increase H –1B. Let Congress vote on this issue based on the merits. In fact, this should be the model for all immigration bills. They should be grouped altogether because business immigration has nothing to do with illegal immigration.

H-1B program needs a serious overhaul

Whoever designed the procedural aspects of the H – 1B program clearly does not understand how private business works. Between April 1 and April 5 of this year, FedEx delivered a total of 274,000 H – 1B applications but only 85,000 will be accepted. Moreover, the program only allows filing once a year. That means private businesses have to have job openings available at a specific time that the US government sets. Although obvious to anyone in the private sector, businesses need an even flow depending on the industry, the economy and even political events around the world. The H –1B program should allow employers to submit applications at least three times a year. In fact, US CIS currently allows H – 2B applicants to submit their applications twice a year. This proposal is simply reasonable since the US CIS cannot handle the volume of applications within a five day period. Finally, as stated in previous blogs, the fact that the United States government is rejecting 189,000 applicants with potential jobs that pay anywhere between 30,000 and 200,000 is idiotic. First, a high percentage of H – 1B job applications being rejected were not going to the US citizens but they were simply being outsourced to other countries in this global economy. Secondly, ignoring the fact that 189,000 jobs will help the tax base and create thousands of indirect jobs is a lack of basic economic sense.

For all countries, there is an allocated 7% of the total EB 5 visas available per year. For China, that equates to about 9940 per year. The Department of State has estimated that the Chinese nationals will reach that number in 2014. This means that if the EB 5 is filed, and 9940 visas were already been submitted this year, the applicant needs to wait for an additional 6 to 12 months to process their EB 5 case. Moreover, if more Chinese nationals keep applying, the backlog will increase in time.

 

In addition, the Canadian investor program has been recently terminated. Canada offered a guaranteed permanent residence status in exchange for a guaranteed $800,000 investment. The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand require as much as 5 to 10 million dollars, and do not offer up-front permanent residency.

 

A percentage of Chinese nationals who are planning to invest in the Canadian investor program are now filing the EB – 5 applications in the United States since the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand require between 5 to10 million dollar investments. This will obviously increase the backlog and longer waiting time for the US program.

 

The good news is that there are numerous congressmen who are trying to increase the monetary amount for the EB 5 requirement, however, the US Congress does not appear on planning to pass any immigration reform anytime soon.

Last minute H1B filings for April 1, 2014

For all H1B applications for the fiscal year 2014, the application must be ready to go by the end of March 2014. However, there is an additional step that needs to be filed with the Department of Labor that will sometimes take anywhere between 7 to 14 days. The deadline for the filing of H – 1B applications will be on April 1, 2014, but many applicants make the mistake of not including the 14 day period that the Department of Labor will take to process the first step which is called LCA (Labor Certification Application).

 

The Department of Labor is supposed to respond in seven days, but when they get overloaded with applications during March of every year, the response time often takes longer. Hence, many applicants make the mistake of trying to get all of their documents ready and prepare for an H – 1B application by the middle of March but they should consider that the response time of the Department of Labor usually takes longer during this peak season and will cause delay. This can be fatal, because without a valid LCA issued by the Department of Labor, the H – 1B cannot be properly filed.

 

The H – 1B cap is looming, and many are concerned of how many H – 1B’s will be rejected this year. So this is a simple reminder for all H1B applicants, that they need to have their job salary and title, and their companies tax ID information ready, one month before the filing of the H – 1B in order to properly file the LCA Application. If the documents are prepared one month in advance, the H – 1B applicant will have a chance to be accepted by US CIS and may fall under the H – 1B cap for 2014 (falling under the H – 1B means that the applicant will be chosen as one of the 85,000 H – 1B applicants accepted each year).

How does increasing H1-B visa Cap to 200,000 hurt the economy? The answer: It doesn’t. People who are against increasing the H-1B Visa program do not understand the world of outsourcing and the concept of indirect jobs. First off, the H-1B program requires that the employer pays the same wage or higher than what an American worker would be paid based on the Department of Labor wage evaluations. Next, with the 85,000 H-1B cap currently implemented, a majority of today’s US companies simply outsource the work to another country or set up another company in Europe or Asia or South America wherein they will be able to hire the foreign nationals which they initially wanted to work for their company in the United States. People who are against increasing the cap for The H-1B program are misguided, for they believe that limiting the number to 85,000 for the H1B program will force US companies to hire American citizens within the United States. This misguided belief may have been partially correct 30 years ago when there were no computers nor internet yet, but nowadays US companies are not restricted by National borders. Therefore, when employers are restricted by the US government from bringing in employees into the United States by the H-1B cap, all the potential tax revenues and indirect jobs that will be created by H-1B employees will also be lost.

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Andrew P. Johnson - Immigration Lawyer