Entrepreneurs Visa

By | Commentary, Immigration Policy | No Comments

In 2014, President Obama issued an Executive order making it easy for Entrepreneurs to get visas. However until this past Friday, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (hereinafter CIS) did not issue any guidance as to how this could be achieved. For instance, a computer science major foreign student, studying in the USA, might come up with an idea that would revolutionize current thinking. They might want to build a startup. Right now the only option is an H-1B visa, which is restricted to only 65,000 per year and subject to a lottery. But even if an entrepreneur manages to win that lottery number, the CIS will frown upon the fact that the entrepreneur will own the company that is petitioning for him. They also want the US entity to show capital to demonstrate the ability to pay the Entrepreneur/Employee the proposed H-1B salary. The problem is that banks/venture capitalists won’t lend capital to an entrepreneur without legal status. So it’s a catch 22 situation that doesn’t work.
Under this proposed rule, DHS may parole, on a case-by-case basis, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises:

Who have a significant ownership interest in the startup (at least 15 percent) and have an active and central role to its operations;
Whose startup was formed in the United States within the past three years; and
Whose startup has substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation, as evidenced by:
Receiving significant investment of capital (at least $345,000) from certain qualified U.S. investors with established records of successful investments;
Receiving significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities; or
Partially satisfying one or both of the above criteria in addition to other reliable and compelling evidence of the startup entity’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

Under the proposed rule, entrepreneurs may be granted an initial stay of up to two years to oversee and grow their startup entity in the United States. A subsequent request for re-parole (for up to three additional years) would be considered only if the entrepreneur and the startup entity continue to provide a significant public benefit as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue or job creation. The notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register invites public comment for 45 days, after which USCIS will address the comments received.

Note:
1. The proposed rule does not take into effect immediately. It typically takes the Government quite a few months after the comment period to adopt the rule. I personally don’t think this will happen before 2017
2. The rule does not grant permanent status as of now. It just gives temporary stay of up to 5 years
3. Both the Democrats and the Republicans support this rule.
4. This would have been law, due to bipartisan support, but the Democrats wanted “Comprehensive” Reform and not the piecemeal legislation
5. Thus I expect this rule to continue no matter who our next President is.

For more information contact Annie Banerjee

When Natural Disasters happen

By | CIS, Commentary, Immigration Policy | No Comments

The Government works with deadlines. Unlike State Court where lawyers can argue that they are not ready and reset the date of their hearing, we attorneys working with federal agencies have to such leverage. We are given an audit notice by the Department of Labor, and we have to answer in 20 days. No matter if your mother dies, or you have a tragedy. Unlike State court lawyers, we also cannot take holidays, unless some other lawyer covers us.
So what happens when there is an act of nature? I had to file a request for evidence for a case when Hurricane Rita caused Houston to shut down and flee town. I took my fedex envelops with me on a 10 hour journey to Austin, and mailed them from there. However, recently, with major hurricanes, floodings, etc, the Citizenship and Immigration Services issues guidelines. With the advent of websites to contact the Government is relatively easy. However, one will still need the receipt number to communicate with the Government.
When forces of nature happen, the Government offices are immediately closed and appointments are rescheduled. However, the lawyer and the clients are still left with the burden of answering and filing.
With the heavy rains paralyzing Baton Rouge, these are the guidelines from Citizenship and Immigration Services.
USCIS offers immigration relief measures that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances, such as disasters like the recent severe storms and flooding in Louisiana.
These measures may be available upon request:
• Change of nonimmigrant status or extension of nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
• Re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
• Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
• Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
• Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate;
• Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay;
• Assistance for those who received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny but were unable to appear for an interview, submit evidence or respond in a timely manner;
• Replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card);
• Rescheduling of a biometrics appointment.
Note: When making a request, please explain how the severe storms or flooding created a need for the requested relief.
However, to contact the Citizenship and Immigration Services, you will still need the receipt number. If any lawyer’s office is flooded, I hope the Government will understand. Global warming will cause more and more natural disasters every year. A humane Government agency will be appreciated. On the other hand, a lawyer should save important documents in the cloud for easier access.

For more information please contact Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee in Houston

[footer block_id=’902′]

 

Buying the American Dream—The EB-5 visa

By | Commentary, Houston Immigration, Immigration Policy, Visa | No Comments

EB-5 Job creation and money in US

 

I know Trump makes for a great opening line in any blog, so I will start with Trump.  Trump criticized Mr. Khan, the Gold Star parent by saying that Khan, a lawyer took money from Muslims so that they could buy their citizenship.  What he was referring to is the EB-5 investor visa program which is controversial.  But before I go into any details, let me say that Trump used EB-5 foreign money to build his luxury rental apartments in New Jersey called Trump Bay Towers.

 

The EB-5 is a program where investors can invest 1 million USD (or $500,000 in underdeveloped areas) and create at least 10 jobs.

The funds have to be obtained “lawfully” and USCIS traces the source of the funds meticulously.  If for instance, one inherits a property and sells it to obtain funds, the Citizenship and Immigration Service will demand that one traces the source of funds used by the buyer to buy the property.  This requirement is very strict

The investors have to put the funds “at risk”.  That means that the investor has to invest the money into a for profit, new venture. Very often, people invest in “regional Centers”—- businesses which pool a lot of these investment and build a new project.  However they create very little interest, and the money is tied up for about 10 years.  The interest is not enough to be able to live in the US

 

Over the years investors in this program have invested billions of dollars and have created thousands of jobs.  So why is this program criticized?  .  The problem with this program is not what Mr. Trump thinks, Muslims bringing in illegal money.

 

The problem is China.  90% of the individuals and capital come from China.  At first it would seem that China sells so much goods to us, that it is wonderful for them to invest capital in the US.  But PRC is not a free country, and that’s the problem.  Ordinarily PRC does not allow money to be brought outside the country. However, it turns a blind eye to the EB-5 program.  The investors do not directly find investment opportunities in the USA. China has state run brokers who liaise with owners of Regional Centers in the US. So these state run brokerage have access to how real estate is done in the US. They also have access to computer files.  They also can invest and control flow of capital in strategic areas.  Some have criticized that China is using economic, information and technological “warfare” with us through this EB-5 program.

The program expires on September 30th, 2016. But my guess is that this Congress will simply extend the program for one year, and let this be the problem of the new administration.

 

For more information, contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, Annie Banerjee