First and foremost, we all want to wish you and families an extended Happy Thanksgiving! We are indeed blessed to live in a country of peace and tranquility, with all of its ups and downs ~ yet remaining the number 1 destination in the world for immigrants.
As you read in the media, print and social, US immigration continues to be front and center in the minds of the nation and Congress. With the budget up again for renewal on December 7, 2018 and a new Congressional composition, your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen.
That said, we have chosen to take the high road and stay the course in the best interests of our clients who often tumble with the vagaries of the law. Change has now become the order of the day! To keep you up, below are some insights:
Delays in adjustments have prompted USCIS to extend the validity period of medical reports to TWO years instead of one. The report must be signed by the civil surgeon no more than 60 days before filing the application. Please review the USCIS website for updated I-693 form as it has changed.
The government agency has centralized its data pages to allow maximum distribution of information relevant to the public, in particular waiting times and navigation of the complex immigration system. Please refer to the main page: www.uscis.gov and access the Immigration and Citizenship Data page. Filters will speed your research.
F-1 STUDENT VISA:
We regret to inform you that the Inlingua language school, for years an incredible source of English language training and related visas, has had to close its doors. This leaves many in limbo with current visa status and / or applications in their home countries. Affected persons remain the students, teachers and administrators. Hopefully, other language schools will pick up the slack and assist students in dire immigration circumstances.
We attended a teleconference this week with USCIS. Aside from more promises of accelerating and refining the process, there appears to be a significant drop in fraud accusations and of course a huge drop in applicants from the main supporters in China.
The Staff and Congress are looking to revise the statute but did not expose any of the components until it is sent out for public comment. At the top of the recommendations will be an increase in the investment amount for which we do not know exactly how much. If it is too high, it could basically dry out the marketplace as investors have global choices aside from America. The current quota of 10,000 annually was almost reached in the last fiscal year. Fourteen thousand I-526 cases remain outstanding.
The current administration has created an aura of fear about immigration fraud, but the numbers do not support this assumption. Very few fraud cases have been referred for prosecution and the focus has been on temporary visas over immigrant investors. What is ‘shocking’ is how low the results have generated; 23,000 site visits, 1,117 referrals to ICE in fiscal 2018.
We are working with many clients on E-2 non immigrant options and our new website, www.e2lawyer.com
will be launched next month with extensive information.
The thresholds and reviews by consular officers make this temporary visa a worthy alternative to the EB-5 platform which has been shunned by USCIS for many years, causing years of frustration for investors, developers and of course their attorneys.
Whereas the InfoPass platform has always been challenging to access, it at least gave applicants and attorneys the opportunity to interface in person at a USCIS office locally to make case inquiries. This luxury is scheduled to sunset as the government implements the Information Services Modernization Program, another name for more technology use and less humanity. USCIS will, however, have the discretion to schedule an in office appointment as needed.
AIRPORT / SEAPORT ADMISSIONS STAMPS:
Many of you who travel frequently have noticed that the DHS no longer may stamp your passport with the date of entry or classification. The reason is that theoretically the swipe of your barcode will suffice to create a record of the official entry. You can access your history of such entries (but not exits) on line at the USCIS website.
We strongly recommend that you print and verify the list of such activities at least annually if a casual traveler and regularly if more frequent.
U.S. PASSPORTS AT RISK:
Well, the IRS has gotten into the immigration business by revoking a whopping 260,000 American passports for those applicants who have pending debt of greater than $51,000 with that agency. What that means is that a US national will not be able to travel outside the US with this as the identification, and certainly not be able to return without it. Over 362,000 Americans could be affected by this rule; only 1,400 have entered into a pay schedule. Americans living overseas will not be affected by this rule.
Note : the IRS will be obliged to give the applicant a 30 day notice and opportunity to correct the deficiency.
Our extended Behar Law Group family often comes across some great success stories.
We want to extend our congratulations to Sophie Proulx, MBA, who has become a pre-immigration planning coach! This is a wonderful concept for those who wish to avoid problems in planning for an investment or migration. Professional advice will go a long way to future success.
More congrats to the excellent team of EB-5 Capital whom we have gotten to know and in particular our past IIUSA chair Angel Brunner and her associate Andrea Devis Focke. These professionals have conducted serious project selection and brought customer service to another level. We do not represent them, but feedback from our clients has been positive.
Congratulations to IIUSA President and President of First Pathway Bob Kraft for finally structuring a ‘sit down’ meeting with the new EB 5 IPO chief Sarah Kendal. This interface was long overdue and will most certainly lead to smoother operations, transparency and trust.
Finally, no newsletter would be complete without my personal thanks to my incredible staff, Attorney Lea DiMitri, Irene Crawford, Jennifer Oliveira and Florencia Penagos. It is times like these at Thanksgiving when we remember all those who do so much in so many ways. Lea has just celebrated her 25th year with our firm!
Also deep thanks to all our loyal clients who work with us through thick and thin in this turbulent world in an attempt to make their dream in America happen!
I cannot forget thanks to my beloved wife, Claire Fleisher Behar, and her sidekick Skippy, who give me breath and levity every day. It is important to put it all into perspective which, as a clinical social worker, she does so well.
Thank you, all,
Larry and Team