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Archive for the ‘Immigration & I-9 Services’ Category

Update on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) For Citizens of Nicaragua, Honduras, & El Salvador

Posted on: November 9th, 2017

By Kenneth S. Levine

On 11/6/2017 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an announcement on the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for citizens of Nicaragua and Honduras. Currently, there are approximately 60,000 Nicaraguans and Hondurans who reside and work in the U.S. under the TPS designation.

DHS announced that the TPS program for Nicaragua has been extended to 1/5/2019, at which time the TPS designation will be terminated. USCIS has advised Nicaraguans on TPS that between now and 1/5/2019 they must either seek a change of status to another visa category, or prepare to depart the United States.

TPS for Honduras has been extended for 6 months.  However, according to DHS’s announcement, “it is possible that the TPS designation for Honduras will be terminated at the end of the six-month automatic extension with an appropriate delay.”  As of today, TPS for Hondurans has been extended to July 5, 2018. DHS’s final decision regarding any additional extensions of Honduran TPS is expected by early 2018 once a new Secretary of Homeland Security has been confirmed by the Senate.

A decision by DHS on whether to extend or terminate the TPS program for citizens of El Salvador is expected by January 8, 2018.

While the general public may perceive the USCIS advisory to “seek a change of status to a different visa category” to be an easily attainable option, the reality is that TPS recipients must still satisfy the strict legal criteria for any requested visa type. For the vast majority of TPS recipients, that will prove difficult to achieve. Therefore, in assessing whether a TPS recipient qualifies for a different visa category, the analysis should necessarily include whether any options exist to pursue permanent residency.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Scam Alert: USCIS Does Not Request Forms I-9 Via Email

Posted on: November 7th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services has issued the following notice:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has learned that employers have received scam emails requesting Form I-9 information that appear to come from USCIS. Employers are not required to submit Forms I-9 to USCIS.

Employers must have a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for every person on their payroll who is required to complete Form I-9. All of these forms must be retained for a certain period of time. Visit I-9 Central to learn more about retention, storage and inspections for Form I-9.

These scam emails come from a fraudulent email address: [email protected]. This is not a USCIS email address. The body of the email may contain USCIS and Office of the Inspector General labels, your address and a fraudulent download button that links to a non-government web address (uscis-online.org). Do not respond to these emails or click the links in them.

If you believe that you received a scam email requesting Form I-9 information from USCIS, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If you are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email to the USCIS webmaster. USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative for more information on common scams and other important tips.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

 

 

Is the EB-5 “Golden VISA” Losing it’s Luster? Why Reduced Interest in the EB-5 Program May Lead to an Increase in the U.S. Unemployment Rate

Posted on: October 25th, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

For the last several years the EB-5 Green Card program has been widely touted as a relatively quick and direct path to obtaining U.S. Permanent Residency. The program, which grants permanent residency based on a $500,000 minimum investment in USCIS approved regional center projects, has been especially popular in China. According to a CNBC article from April 2017, USCIS estimated that Chinese citizens represented 85% of all Applicants in the EB-5 Program. News interviews with Chinese EB-5 Applicants reveal that, for the vast majority, their prime motivation to invest in the program was based on a desire to permanently settle their children in the U.S. Aggressive efforts to attract Chinese EB-5 Investors gave rise to a cottage industry of EB-5 agents and financial advisors in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Every year the United States makes available the same number of green cards to every country in the world, regardless of the size of their population. When more green card applications from one country are submitted than there are visas made available for that year, a green card backlog results. For example, the State Department is processing EB-5 green cards only for Chinese Applicants who submitted their applications prior to July 1, 2014.

Based on mainstream media reports, the EB-5 backlog for China has resulted in diminished interest in the program among Chinese citizens. Due to the quota backlog, green card cases may not be processed before the children of Chinese Applicants turn 21. That is the key concern for Applicants, because under the Immigration and Nationality Act, once a child turns 21, they are no longer eligible to act as dependents on green card cases filed by their parents. Accordingly, Chinese Investors are beginning to turn their attention to immigrant investor programs in Canada and Australia as a backup option to permanently settle their children.

If Applications from Chinese citizens begin to dwindle then less investment capital will be available to fund new or ongoing EB-5 regional center projects, directly translating into reduced jobs for U.S. workers. Unless Congress is willing to pursue a legislative fix to this issue, it may be difficult if not impossible to replicate that same level of EB5 interest from other countries.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Presidential Proclamation on Expanded Travel Ban

Posted on: September 29th, 2017

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

The President announced a revised travel ban on September 24, 2017. The new travel ban removes Sudan from the list but adds 3 additional countries to the list. Each designated Country has specific restrictions and they are as follows:

1. Chad – Entry into the United States of nationals of Chad, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2) and business/tourist (b-1/B-2) visas is suspended.
2. Iran – Entry into the United States of nationals of Iran as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended, except that entry of nationals of Iran under valid student (F and M) and exchange visitors (J) visas is not suspended, although such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
3. Libya – Entry into the United States of nationals of Libya, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B- 2) visas, is suspended.
4. North Korea – Entry into the United States of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
5. Somalia – Entry into the United States of nationals of Somalia as immigrants is suspended, and nonimmigrants traveling to the United States will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
6. Syria – Entry into the United States of nationals of Syria as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
7. Venezuela – entry into the United States of certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B- 2) visas is suspended.
8. Yemen – entry into the United States of nationals of Yemen as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B- 2) visas, is suspended.

Also, Secretary of Homeland Security recommended that nationals of Iraq who seek to enter the United States be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States.

The suspension of entry does not apply to:

1. Any individual who already is a lawful permanent resident of the United States (green card holder).
2. Any foreign national who was admitted or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this new Order.
3. Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa that allows travel to the United States and seek admission, valid on effective date or after the date of this Order, such as an Advance Parole Document.
4. Any dual national of a country designated when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.
5. Any foreign national traveling on diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4 visas.
6. Any foreign national been granted asylum, any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States, or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection on the Convention Against torture.

The indefinite bans immediately impact nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen with no bona fide relationship to a U.S. person or entity, and will take effect for all other impacted nationals of those countries, as well as nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela, on October 18, 2017.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

Another Extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program

Posted on: September 14th, 2017

By: Kenneth S. Levine

untitledA continuing resolution entitled H.R. 601 was signed a few days ago by President Trump. The primary purpose of this latest CR was to approve an allocation of funding for federal government operations through December 8, 2017. However, H.R. 601 also included a provision for a three month extension of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. This latest extension, which comes after a string of previous extensions, leaves intact the program’s current regulatory minimum level of investment ($500,000).

The EB5 investors program remains politically controversial. It is certainly possible that the administration will seek to make changes to the program through Congress by this December. However, in the absence of Congressional action, a further extension of the program is widely anticipated within the next few months.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].