Newsletter – May 21, 2018
It may seem like we are issuing more frequent newsletters and you may be correct. The U.S. immigration environment today requires a high degree of diligence and surveillance due to a new ‘zero tolerance’ attitude and interpretation of the laws. There is thus no room for error, even if unintentional. Every box on every form and every declaration made by applicants must be truthful and complete.
LIFTING OF CONDITIONAL STATUS: EB-5 INVESTORS’ RECEIPTS Due to the heavy backlog of decision making by USCIS on I-829 applications, the government will now allow use of the receipt notice along with expired conditional permanent residency card as evidence of status for travel, employment and other purposes. We have also seen children receive individual receipts, which is new and actually very helpful. We strongly recommend a mini file of receipts, passports, residency cards and birth certificates along with proof of residence in the U.S. when returning after absence abroad of any duration. Remember, you are meeting a new officer at every return so be prepared.
EB-5 PROCESSING: CONDITIONAL AND LIFTING OF STATUS While we are seeing a decline of investors from China, who historically absorbed 70% of the EB-5 visa positions, the impact on USCIS staffing in Washington and around the country is too soon to see advances in time line responses on applications. Indeed, delays for adjudication have gotten longer. We can only hope that with a reduction of applicants that USCIS will start to reduce and meet its expected goals for turnaround of decisions.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT NEW DATE FOR FINAL FILING OF NEW I-526 APPLICATIONS REMAINS SEPTEMBER 30, 2018, WHICH MEANS THAT CASES NEED TO BE AT THE POST OFFICE BY SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 TO BE PROPERLY RECEIVED AND STAMPED.
Final regulations from USCIS internally may be issued at any time which would increase investment level amounts from $500,000 to who knows what level….; you can be assured it will be over $920,000. Act now if you are undecided.
LOCAL OFFICES CONDUCT INTERVIEWING: As most applicants for EB-5 processing and labor certification know, the U.S. government has now imposed a required personal interview at local offices wherein an adjustment of status has been requested. In times past, this interview was waived, however due to more stringent controls of admission; the interview is now a required process.
As such, officers are now burdened with interviews which they had not anticipated causing significant delays in every category wherein applicants need to apply in person. Note that the four individual USCIS offices now have different processing delays due to demand for that local office. The Miami office is the longest at 17 months waiting, Oakland Park not far behind at 16 months. We have not been advised that more staff was being assigned to give the backlog any relief. Times may differ depending on the type of application submitted, such as naturalization (a bit faster) vs. other more complex adjustments.
EB-5 DEVELOPERS BEING RESTRICTED: USCIS has finally implemented regulations which will eliminate job creation calculations to omit tenant occupancy. The government has come to the conclusion that the methodologies are not reflective of indirect job creation reliable forecasting tools. Such tenant occupancy models expired after May 15, 2018 but deference will be given to I-526 and I-829 applications previously filed absent fraud, misrepresentation or legal deficiency.
LABOR CERTIFICATION PROCESSING: With the economy seeming to percolate at a more rapid speed, the unemployment rate across the U.S. has now dropped to below 4%, and in Florida even more. As such, as predicted, there are a lack of qualified workers in the U.S. and employers are finding themselves making business decisions which are contrary to their plans. As such, our firm is providing relief to U.S. employers who are willing to wait for qualified foreign graduates (either from a U.S. school or abroad) in an area of focused work. Costs and fees are mostly absorbed by the graduates. The result is a green card for the applicant; employers can expect arrival of the applicant in less than two years, or 1.5 years if the applicant is in the US. Some applicants can also benefit from Optional Practical Training (OPT) during the waiting time. Contact us if you are a qualified U.S. employer or a student about to graduate either with an undergraduate degree or higher; no experience is normally required.
GREEN CARD RECALL: Some spousal beneficiaries either have or will receive notices of required return of existing and issued green cards for production errors. Please see the instructions attached to the notice.
UNLAWFUL PRESENCE: In keeping with our alarm above of zero tolerance, USCIS posted a policy change going into effect August 9, 2018 for calculations for unlawful presence in the F (student), J (exchange) and M (practical training) and F-2, J-2 and M-2 dependents’ category. Such unlawful presence comes into effect on ANY of the following conditions: denial of a Department of Homeland Security benefit, expiration of I-94 period of lawful stay, or day after an immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals has ordered them excluded, deported or removed. If more than 180 days are accrued, the individual may be barred from reentering the U.S. for three to ten years depending on duration of unlawful presence.
WELCOME GATEWAY IMMIGRATION: We welcome the arrival of www.gatewayimmigration.com , a wonderful addition to on line medical testing for applicants conducting an adjustment of status. The brainchild of Joshua Villanueva, the program filters all medical tests required, including vaccinations, and directs applicants to the nearest qualified medical practitioner previously approved. Fees and costs are market rate, time savings are huge.
CONCLUSION: We are all living through an age of extreme information flow, high speed responses, and international disruptions. Take the time to catch your breath and make sound decisions. Have a wonderful summer! Be safe!
BEHAR LAW GROUP