Will Trump’s Latest Immigration Plans Affect The Economy?

The day after President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress, the Dow Industrial Average hit 21,000 for the first time ever. Investors are anticipating substantial tax cuts, especially in corporate taxes, along with massive infrastructure projects and perhaps the largest public works project of all time – “the wall.” It’s certainly good news for investors, but how are the rest of us fairing under President Trump? Will the president’s immigration plans affect the economy positively or negatively – or at all? If you are an employer who hires foreign nationals, how will the administration’s immigration policies impact your business in particular?

A deportation plan that would send hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants out of the country could be a catastrophe for the economy. Undocumented immigrants constitute about five percent of the U.S. workforce, and particular sectors of the economy, like agriculture, are almost entirely dependent on undocumented immigrants. Up to 85 percent of California’s agricultural workers are undocumented, according to Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. If the administration were to weed out illegal workers, California farmers say their ability to do business would be crippled.

For example, the Trump Administration’s immigration policies could dramatically impact California’s Central Valley, a region of agricultural land extending from Bakersfield to Redding. Agriculture is by far the Central Valley’s largest industry, and more than 6.5 million people live there. Agriculture in the Central Valley brings in about $35 billion a year and provides more of the nation’s food than any other region.

WHAT WOULD BE THE RESULT OF MASS DEPORTATIONS?

The consequences of a serious deportation plan would ripple through the dairies and orchards but other locally owned shops, diners, and also completely different businesses, like insurance and energy. Harold McClarty, a fourth-generation farmer in Kingsburg who grows, packs, and ships peaches, plums, and grapes across the United States, told the New York Times, “If you only have legal labor, certain parts of this industry and this region will not exist. If we sent all these people back, it would be a total disaster.”

California farmers have struggled for years with a labor shortage, partly because of better security along the border and partly due to increased costs of smugglers who assist civilians across. The formerly-endless inflow of workers from rural towns and villages in Mexico has nearly ceased. Growers in California and across the country hope that the Trump Administration will further develop and ease the H-2A visa program, which allows growers to bring in foreign workers for temporary agricultural jobs.

Farmers are also among those concerned about the administration’s trade policies. The president has already pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and President Trump has promised to pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well if he is unable to negotiate favorable circumstances for the U.S. Farmers would benefit from more positive terms, but pulling out of NAFTA entirely could trigger economic punishment from Mexico that could potentially damage agriculture in California, which earned $21 billion from trade in 2016.

WHAT OTHER INDUSTRIES ARE CONCERNED ABOUT IMMIGRATION POLICY?

Silicon Valley is also concerned about the administration’s immigration policies. Dozens of tech companies – including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and PayPal – are opposing Mr. Trump’s executive orders barring immigrants from Middle Eastern and North African nations – and opposing the other immigration crackdowns the administration has promised – because the policies could signal the end of the U.S. as a destination for the world’s best tech inventors.

If that sounds dramatic, consider that more than half of the 87 privately held U.S. start-ups valued at $1 billion or more were founded by one or more people from outside the United States, according to researchers at the National Foundation for American Policy. The Partnership for a New American Economy found in 2011 that more than 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants to the United States or by the children of immigrants. For the newest members in the Fortune 500, many of them technology companies, even more were founded by immigrants.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO H-1B VISAS?

And while the Trump Administration’s stance on illegal immigration has been quite clearly articulated, the president has nevertheless sent mixed signals about the H-1B visa program. Tech firms may have to begin settling for the talent they can find here in the U.S., as the president has suggested that he will restrict or abolish the H-1B visas that so many tech companies use to find and employ international workers.

Members of the Trump Administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have characterized the H1-B visa program as a system riddled with fraud and abuse that prioritizes cheaper, foreign labor ahead of U.S. workers. Limiting or eliminating H-1B visas would substantially impact the ability of U.S. companies to hire the most talented workers in the technology sector and related fields.

It’s still too soon to predict how this administration’s immigration policies will impact the domestic and global economic and business environments. Until Congress hashes out some of President Trump’s proposals – and until the Supreme Court issues definitive rulings on the president’s executive orders – employers and immigrants should have no cause for fear. The president has implied on a number of occasions that when he declares a “policy,” it may in fact only be a starting position for negotiations on the issue.

Litigation that may affect immigrants is already pending in several courts around the country. Several legal challenges to President Trump’s “travel ban” have been launched. As various courts render rulings and as those rulings are appealed, the legal situation could change rapidly throughout 2017, and employers, immigrants, nonimmigrant visa holders, and their families may need the legal advice and guidance that an experienced Columbus immigration attorney offers.

Do not hesitate to discuss any of your immigration concerns with an experienced immigration lawyer. If you are a foreign national and you are seeking a visa, a green card, a change in your immigration status, or protection from deportation – or if you are a U.S.-based employer who hires foreign nationals – it’s imperative to have sound immigration advice and experienced legal representation. The right immigration lawyer – a trustworthy Columbus immigration attorney who works right here in the United States – can help with applications, hearings, and all of the additional immigration requirements.

Over 100 Tech Companies Oppose Trump’s Immigration Ban

The famous tech companies of Silicon Valley – and some of the not-so-famous tech companies as well – have lined up in opposition to President Trump’s January 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The executive order bans entry into the United States by travelers from seven predominantly-Muslim North African and Middle Eastern nations. As of February 8th, 127 companies in the tech industry have joined a friend-of-the-court brief that seeks to overturn that executive order.

The friend-of-the-court brief charges that the executive order is “a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years.” The brief also claims, “The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States.”

The friend-of-the-court brief, authored by Washington attorney Andrew Pincus, also includes some remarkable immigration statistics: “Immigrants are leading entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses are large. Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list…. Collectively, these companies generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion, and employ millions of Americans.” The brief also mentions that 18 percent of the business owners in the United States – and 16 percent of the labor force – are immigrants.

WHICH COMPANIES HAVE JOINED THE BRIEF? WHICH HAVEN’T?

The brief was submitted to the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Companies joining the brief include Google, Facebook, Apple, Airbnb, Ancestry.com, LinkedIn, Intel, Lyft, Uber, Mozilla, Microsoft, and PayPal. However, Amazon, Oracle, Qualcomm, and IBM were not among the tech companies that joined the friend-of-the-court brief. IBM told Forbes magazine that its CEO, Ginni Rometty, has already “conveyed the company’s views directly” to the White House.

The friend-of-the-court brief expresses Silicon Valley’s abiding conviction that immigrants are essential and key actors on the U.S. economic scene. Immigration benefits “not just the new immigrants who chose to come to our shores, but American businesses, workers, and consumers, who gain immense advantages from immigrants’ infusion of talents, energy, and opportunity,” according to the brief.

Martin Flaherty, who is a professor of constitutional law at Fordham Law School in New York City, told USA Today that friend-of-the-court briefs allow parties with an interest in a case to offer judges their own conclusions without actual being a party in the case. Judges often appreciate the insights offered by those with special knowledge about a case or a special interest in a case. Particularly controversial and landmark cases often generate scores of friend-of-the-court briefs on each side, Flaherty said.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE EFFECT OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER?

The January 27 executive order suspended the processing of visas for foreign nationals from seven North African and Middle Eastern nations: Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Some foreign nationals from those nations were prevented from entering the U.S. after arriving at U.S. airports. Others have had their visa applications suspended or revoked prior to their departures for the U.S. The executive order has been met with numerous protests and extensive criticism in both the United States and abroad, and with a number of legal actions.

In Seattle, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a restraining order on February 3rd that temporarily prevents the federal government from enforcing several sections of the executive order. As of February 8th, that restraining order is still in effect. For the moment, the federal government may not enforce the 90-day travel ban on “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from the seven designated countries, the 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or the indefinite suspension on the admission of Syrian refugees.

The U.S. District Court’s temporary restraining order probably will not be in effect for long, and the case will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the interim, cases pending in several other courts may also have an impact on immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven designated nations. Until the Supreme Court provides a definitive ruling on the multiple legal issues raised by the January 27 executive order, the situation for immigrants, nonimmigrant visa holders, and families could change very quickly – and more than once.

Immigration attorneys across the nation and around the world are counseling individuals and families impacted by the executive order and are advocating aggressively for justice on their behalf. If you or anyone you love – or anyone you employ – needs legal direction or assistance regarding the January 27 executive order, an experienced Ohio immigration attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and if necessary, take the appropriate legal action.

For a number of tech firms and other companies in Silicon Valley and across the United States, the January 27 executive order has reportedly created pandemonium. Google has announced that almost 200 of its employees are being affected, while Microsoft said that more than 75 of its employees are impacted. As mentioned previously, until the United States Supreme Court rules on the matter, the legal situation for immigrants and nonimmigrant visa holders from the seven designated nations – and for their families – will be changing and confusing.

IS IMMIGRATION ALWAYS THIS CONTROVERSIAL AND CONFUSING?

Although the January 27 executive order has triggered controversy and aroused strong passions, what we’re seeing is really nothing new, historically speaking. Immigration law in the United States has always been torturously complex, and immigration practices and policies have always generated contention and acrimony. However, two facts never seem to change – employers need foreign-born employees, and many foreigners strongly desire to work in the United States.

Legal complexities and ever-changing regulations are always an element of the immigration process, but especially at this time, immigrants, non-immigrant visa holders, families, and employers affected by the January 27 executive order may need the legal advice and services of an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. It may be months before the United States Supreme Court finally and definitively resolves the legal questions raised by the January 27 executive order.

Lame-Duck Congress Ignores Chance For EB-5 Reforms

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program bolsters the U.S. economy through capital investment and job creation. Each year, up to 10,000 EB-5 visas are offered to international investors who place a minimum of $500,000 into development projects or into other investments that create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The investor and his or her qualifying family members will receive green cards after two years, provided that the ten or more jobs have been created and that all other EB-5 requirements have been met.

EB-5 visa applications nearly tripled from 2013 through 2015, but the visa’s popularity has also exposed what critics say are serious flaws with the way the EB-5 investor visa program operates. Just before leaving Washington for the holidays, the last Congress renewed the EB-5 visa program for another four-and-a-half months as part of a year-end spending bill. Despite the controversies that surround the program, no reforms were made in 2016. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, one of the lawmakers who believe the program needs reform, said, “After another year, we have yet another missed opportunity.”

The EB-5 program – and the several controversies associated with it – will now be inherited by a new President and a new Congress. The EB-5 program was initially established during the first Bush Administration to encourage international investors to place considerable amounts of capital into new U.S.-based business ventures. In the years since, Congress has enhanced the EB-5 program’s appeal to foreign investors in a number of ways, including a less precise definition of job creation and a lower minimum investment amount.

WHAT IS THE APPROVAL RATE FOR EB-5 APPLICATIONS?

International investors have responded with rising interest in the EB-5 program, and the approval rate for the EB-5 visa is about 90 percent. The EB-5 offers international investors a path to U.S. citizenship if they invest at least $1 million in most instances, although a half-million dollar investment is the minimum that’s required if the investment is in an economically-depressed region.

A Government Accountability Office report published in September 2016 says that the Department of Homeland Security is currently addressing several potential fraud risks in the EB-5 program. And despite the President-elect’s well-known opposition to undocumented immigration, some advocates of the EB-5 are even expecting the program to flourish under the new Trump Administration.

“His strong stance [is] against illegal immigration,” said former New York Governor George Pataki at a recent investment conference in China. “And EB-5 is a legal immigration program. He understands the need for capital, the need for investment.” The executive director of the U.S. Immigration Fund, Charles Gargano, also believes that the EB-5 program will thrive because of Mr. Trump’s own experience as an investor. “Under President-elect Trump, a developer himself, he will magnify the need for a program like this,” Gargano explained to the same conference in Shanghai in November.

HOW SOON ARE EB-5 REFORMS LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in charge of a Jersey City complex that has purportedly leveraged $50 million in EB-5 funds as a portion of its financing. And despite broad agreement that the EB-5 visa program needs reform, drastic change isn’t likely under the new administration and new Congress, according to David North, a spokesperson at the Center for Immigration Studies. “I don’t think the program’s going to get killed,” North adds.

Advocates of the EB-5 program say that more than $11 billion in investments and more than 220,000 U.S. jobs will vanish if the EB-5 visa program is eliminated. Peter D. Joseph, the executive director of the EB-5 trade group Invest in the USA, says, “We’re working for important reforms that improve rigorous vetting of projects and investors, so that the program can continue investing in communities and providing quality American jobs.”

The previous Congress made no changes to the EB-5 program in 2015 and 2016. A number of reform proposals were offered, but in the end the program was renewed without change. For now, to obtain an EB-5 visa, a foreign investor must put at least $1 million into a new U.S. business that creates ten or more full-time U.S.-based jobs, or the investor must put at least $500,000 into a “Targeted Employment Area.” An applicant must also prove that his or her investment dollars were received legally and legitimately. This requirement helps to ensure that the EB-5 program is not dealing with money laundered by crime networks or terrorists.

WHAT ARE EB-5 REGIONAL CENTERS?

Most EB-5 international investors work with the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Regional centers are private-sector groups that pool investment funds to develop resorts, hotels, retail centers, and other major projects. From 2005 through 2013, the EB-5 investor visa program brought more than $5 billion into the United States. Foreign investors can best take advantage of the EB-5 program by working from the start with an Ohio immigration attorney who routinely helps investors dealing with immigration issues. There is an annual cap – only 10,000 EB-5 visas are offered annually – so investors should initiate the application process as early as possible.

Anyone with any questions or concerns regarding the EB-5 investment visa or any immigration matter should speak as soon as possible to an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer. If you are an international investor considering a business investment in the United States, let an experienced Ohio immigration attorney work on your behalf. You can arrange for a consultation by email or by calling from anywhere in the world. The economy is rising strong once more in the United States, and excellent investment opportunities are found in every one of the fifty states.

All qualified international investors may petition for an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa does not require a sponsor or a labor certification. Through the EB-5 investor visa program, the U.S. allows international investors to invest in U.S.-based businesses and to live here with their immediate families. As the conditions of the EB-5 visa are satisfied, investors and their families qualify to receive green cards. Learn more about the EB-5 visa and other options for investors by speaking with an Ohio immigration attorney. The EB-5 visa is an excellent path to lawful permanent residency in the United States for the willing and able international investor.

Where Are The Best Computer Programmers?

Our prosperity in the United States is built on the renegade, risk-taking spirit of innovation and invention. A new business is an expression of belief – the confidence that “we can make it” in the United States. Historically, wave after wave of immigrants have put their trust into the American dream that anything is possible in the United States for those who put in the effort. For example, more than half of the companies in Silicon Valley today began as immigrant-founded startups.

Paul Graham is a computer scientist, a venture capitalist, and an internationally-acclaimed writer. He is the author of several programming books, and his blog deals with a number of issues related to computer programming. Graham recently asked – and then answered – the question, “Where are the best computer programmers?” The answer may surprise you, because it’s an impeccably sound argument for comprehensive immigration reform.

U.S.-based high-tech firms say that they need comprehensive immigration reform because they can’t find enough good computer programmers in the United States. Opponents of immigration reform insist that we should simply train more of the people who were born here to be computer programmers instead of letting immigrants take those jobs. Who’s right? Paul Graham has no problem answering the question bluntly. He says the high-tech firms are right and the opponents of immigration are wrong.

WHY ARE THE OPPONENTS OF IMMIGRATION WRONG?

Graham says the high-tech firms are right because the United States comprises less than five percent of world’s people. If the traits and characteristics that make a person a superlative computer programmer are evenly distributed – and there’s every reason to believe that they are – then more than 95 percent of the world’s potentially great computer programmers are born outside of the United States.

“What the anti-immigration people don’t understand,” Paul Graham writes, “is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can’t train them to be exceptional. Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training.”

WHY DO COMPANIES LOOK AROUND THE WORLD FOR PROGRAMMERS?

One persistent theme of immigration opponents is that high-tech firms want to hire immigrants so that they can drive salaries downward. However, current immigration law already ensures that the salaries paid to immigrants in fields like computer programming are comparable to the salaries of U.S.-born workers doing the same job. Why are high-tech companies looking around the world for programmers if it’s not to keep salaries down?

The truth has little to do with salaries. There simply aren’t enough good programmers right here in the United States. “It would be great,” Graham writes, “if more Americans were trained as programmers, but no amount of training can flip a ratio as overwhelming as 95 to 5.” He adds, “A country with only a few percent of the world’s population will be exceptional in some field only if there are a lot of immigrants working in it.”

Paul Graham admits that recognizing the need for comprehensive immigration reform is only half the battle. Once lawmakers are agreed that comprehensive immigration reform is imperative, how does the U.S. then make itself attractive to the world’s best computer programmers? Graham suggests that we make the U.S. attractive to programmers simply by letting them work here. If more programmers are here, he reasons, even more will want to be here. Graham writes, “good people like good colleagues.”

Although he focuses on programmers, Paul Graham admits that the United States also needs to attract the very best designers, electrical engineers, and others falling into the category he calls “digital talent.” As they have in the past, immigrants bring ambition, a work ethic, and diverse cultural perspectives that generate U.S. economic growth and innovation. By welcoming immigrants, the United States gains a huge economic and trade advantage over other nations – like China and Japan – with more restrictive immigration laws.

Unfortunately, however, without comprehensive immigration reform, the annual cap on H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign professionals will remain at 65,000, with another 20,000 set aside for foreign professionals with post-graduate degrees from U.S. universities. If you are a U.S.-based employer who hires international employees, obtain the immigration help you’ll need from an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

ARE THERE GOOD ALTERNATIVES TO THE H-1B VISA?

A good immigration lawyer can help businesses of any size with H-1B visa petitions and other work visas, I-9 compliance, and the big complicated mess that we call “immigration law.” The next filing period for H-1Bs begins next April 1, so the time for employers to get started is now. H-1B visas are hard – but not impossible – to obtain, and even if an employer obtains an H-1B visa in April, the visa recipient can’t begin working until October 2017. Fortunately, there may be some alternatives:

• An employee of a multinational corporation who wishes to work for a U.S.-based parent, branch, or subsidiary corporation in a managerial or executive capacity, or who has specialized knowledge about the company, may qualify for an L-1 intracompany transferee visa.

• E-1 visas are for traders and E-2 visas are for investors. Only nationals of countries that have commercial treaties with the United States qualify for E visas.

• The E-3 Australian specialty worker visa is comparable to the H-1B, but only Australian nationals qualify.

• Professionals from Canada and Mexico may qualify for TN professional visas.

• The H-1B1 visa for citizens of Singapore or Chile is similar to the H-1B. 5,400 are set aside annually for citizens of Singapore, while 1,400 are reserved for Chileans.

• Individuals with extraordinary abilities and significant accomplishments in certain fields may qualify for the O-1 visa.

• The J-1 visa is for individuals working or training in the U.S. in particular career fields.

Many H-1B-eligible international workers will qualify for at least one of these visas. Scores of U.S.-based employers choose one or more of these alternatives to the H-1B visa and are pleased with the results. Every visa takes time, and there’s inevitably some wrinkle or complication in the process, so employers should discuss their visa needs and related concerns with an experienced Ohio immigration attorney as soon as those needs and concerns emerge.

Immigrant Population In U.S. Reaches All-Time High

New data from the Census Bureau is telling us that the number of immigrants entering the United States – both with and without documentation – is not only growing but accelerating. According to a report released in November by the Center for Immigration Studies – an organization that lobbies for lower levels of immigration and opposes comprehensive immigration reform – about three million new immigrants entered the United States in the years 2014 and 2015.

In the United States in 2015, the total foreign-born population, 43.3 million, was a record high. Despite the Center for Immigration Studies’ reputation as “opponents” of immigration, there’s no reason to doubt the accuracy of their November report, which is based on the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Steven Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies said, “We are now certain that immigration surged in 2015.”

About 1.5 million new immigrants entered the United States in 2014, a 17 percent increase over 2013. In the first six months of 2015, another 914,000 new immigrants arrived in the U.S. At 13.5 percent, the percentage of immigrants in the U.S. population is larger than at any time since 1910, and according to Census Bureau projections, the percentage of immigrants in the U.S. will reach a record level by 2022.

WHY IS THE PACE OF IMMIGRATION PICKING UP?

Why is the pace of immigration picking up right now? Camarota speculated that an improving economy is one reason, but he also pointed to procedural changes in federal immigration policies such as allowing the spouses of guest workers to obtain work permits in the United States. Congress also amended the rules for non-agricultural seasonal workers, so that those who worked in the U.S. last year and return this year do not count against the visa cap for workers in that category. Progressive legislation in states like California has also had a role in drawing immigrants to those states.

What are the states with the fastest-growing immigrant populations? If you’re thinking New York, Florida, Texas, and California, you’d be entirely wrong. Surprisingly, from 2010 through 2015, the states with the fastest-growing immigrant populations are North Dakota (up by 72.2 percent), Wyoming (38.9 percent), West Virginia (31.1 percent), South Dakota (25.2 percent), and Delaware (21.8 percent). However, in terms of overall population as of 2015, California still has the highest percentage of immigrants (27.3 percent). The other top states are New York (22.9 percent), New Jersey (22.1 percent), Florida (20.2 percent), and Nevada (19.3 percent).

One key aspect of the new report is the changing demographics of the immigrants themselves. The percentage of those entering the United States from Mexico is declining, while the numbers  of new immigrants arriving from east Asia and South Asia are rising. In 2004, 35 percent of the new immigrants in the U.S. were from Mexico; by 2014, that number had declined to 11.6 percent. East Asian and South Asian immigrants constituted only 24.1 percent of the new immigrant population in 2004; that number grew to 38 percent in 2014.

Immigration from Central America is also rising. Non-Mexican immigrants from Latin America comprised 18.7 percent of the new immigrant population in 2011 and 23 percent in 2014. In 2015, the number of people from all Latin American nations living in the U.S. was 22.1 million, a 10 percent increase over 2010. Immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations constitute a far smaller number of people entering the U.S. – only 2.7 million in 2015 – but that still represents a 24 percent increase since 2010. Although they are frequently discussed in the news media, only 13,210 Syrian refugees have entered the U.S. since the beginning of 2016.

WHERE ELSE ARE THE NEW IMMIGRANTS ARRIVING FROM?

From everywhere, people are trying to get into the land of the free and the home of the brave any way they can. The arrests of more than 8,000 people from India, China, Romania, Bangladesh, and Nepal between October 2015 and August 2016 presents new challenges to immigration agents whose job is to apprehend those caught crossing the border without documentation. Surprisingly, India and China are now also among the leading nations of origin for people caught trying to enter the United States without documentation.  Of course, the best way to enter the U.S. is by the rules, with the help of someone like an experienced Ohio immigration attorney.

Victor Manjarrez, the director of the Center for Law & Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso – and a one-time Border Patrol sector chief – says the increase in migrants from countries far beyond the western hemisphere should be considered a growing concern. “In the grand scheme, as a percentage, it’s relatively small but the raw numbers are such a big jump historically,” Manjarrez said. Why should immigrants from faraway nations be a growing concern?

Most Mexican immigrants caught at the border without documentation are sent home after just several days – they can basically be “just turned around.” But for those from nations on the other side of the world, the deportation process is lengthier and costlier. These immigrants may be held in immigration facilities for months, waiting for legal documents from their home nations or waiting for an immigration judge to determine their fate.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE IMMIGRANTS?

Of course, the best way to enter the United States is with full documentation and the counsel of an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. An immigration attorney helps international students, professionals, entrepreneurs, and investors obtain visas to enter the U.S., helps families reunite in the U.S., and helps employers hire immigrants and stay compliant with the plethora of immigration-related employment laws and regulations.

The rising number of immigrant arrivals from other continents, along with a rise in border crossings, has filled U.S. immigration facilities with more than 40,000 people in September and October. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s budget allows them to house only 34,000 at any given moment, and immigration authorities may face a budget crisis in the first months of 2017 if the trend persists.

Gillian Christensen, speaking for the Department of Homeland Security, says that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has enough resources to operate “at current levels” through December 9, when a temporary budget resolution expires. After that, Christensen said, Homeland Security will have to shift resources from other agencies in the department or find an “alternative” budget strategy.

Behind The Scenes, Immigrants Keep The USA Running

Many of us in the 21st century spend a big part of our lives “online,” yet the virtual world still depends on the physical, including the labor of those who create, manufacture, and provide the essential goods and services that everyone requires. Many of us connect to this behind-the-scenes, virtually invisible economy only when we purchase the final product from a retailer, but at every stage in the economic chain, real people by the millions contribute real muscle and sweat every day.

In the United States in the 21st century, for example, it’s almost a certainty that the blueberries, strawberries, peaches, asparagus, or lettuce you purchase from any grocer passed through the hands of Latin American migrant labor. Closer to home, many of us see – and hire – housekeepers and lawn service providers who are immigrants. They’re servers and cashiers. In many cities, immigrants drive most of the taxis and deliver most of the newspapers. They perform many of the mundane essential functions that keep the economy running.

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If you hire immigrants to work for your company in the United States, or if you are yourself an immigrant in the United States – with or without documentation – you can learn more about your legal rights, obligations, and options by speaking with a trustworthy and experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney. Immigration law is complicated and constantly changing, which sometimes makes compliance quite challenging for both employers and the immigrants they hire.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BOSTON GLOBE?

At one newspaper, the Boston Globe, reporters and editors earlier this year encountered for the first time a world previously invisible to them. In their climate-controlled offices and conference rooms, these professional journalists and their bosses had only the vaguest notion about how their work actually, physically gets into a reader’s hands in the form of a morning newspaper. For the most part, newspapers are delivered by low-paid immigrants. The story began late last year when the Boston Globe contracted a new company to deliver the newspapers.

If you thought newspapers were dead, they’re not in Boston, where several hundred thousand subscribers to the Globe expect delivery 365 days a year. Although the change to a new contractor should have been routine, it wasn’t. Like so many other behind-the-scenes services, the delivery of newspapers in many cities is provided by mostly marginalized immigrant workers, and many of them lack documentation.

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To move a printed newspaper from the presses into hands of thousands of Boston subscribers takes a small army of people willing to work 365 nights a year – without regard to snow or road conditions. At a distribution center, they fold and stack newspapers, load them, and use their own vehicles, driving in the last several hours before sunrise. As independent contractors, they pay for their own gas and insurance. Most barely make the minimum wage. Many of the delivery people are immigrants.

ACI Media Group promised to cut the Globe’s costs for delivering newspapers by paying delivery workers less – while demanding more. ACI, based in California, had trouble hiring enough workers in the Boston area to deliver the Globe, and many who were hired walked off the job due to low pay and unreasonable working conditions. Newspapers went undelivered – news that quickly made it to the Globe’s newsroom.

HOW DID THE NEWSPAPER HANDLE THE DELIVERY CRISIS?

After a week, the newspaper was in crisis. Writers, photographers, and editors were recruited to make sure the Sunday Globe got delivered – an unprecedented move. According to the New York Times, two hundred reporters and other staffers stayed up all night and “bagged thousands of newspapers and stacked them in their cars.” Reporter Kevin Cullen wrote, “whatever they pay the delivery people, it’s not enough, and it’s more than a little depressing to think this debacle has been brought about by a desire to pay them even less.”

Globe Columnist Marcela García wrote that delivering the newspaper was “an unbelievably eye-opening experience.” A Mexican-born bilingual journalist, columnist, and editorial writer who frequently reports on immigration issues for the Globe, Garcia added, “Reporters delivering their own work – that’s a story. But off camera, and working side by side with us as we assembled the Sunday paper, were the people who are there every night, making not much more than minimum wage.”

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The following Tuesday, the Globe’s publisher, John W. Henry offered a public apology to the newspaper’s subscribers. Henry wrote, “Getting a daily newspaper to your front door is a complicated exercise in logistics – this is something the Globe has been innovating in for more than 150 years…. Until Globe staffers embarked on an effort to save more than 20,000 subscribers from missing their Sunday paper, we had underestimated what it would take to make this change.”

WHAT DID THE BOSTON GLOBE FINALLY ADMIT?

The following Saturday, January 9, almost two weeks after the newspaper’s delivery problems first emerged, Globe reporter Michael Levenson wrote about the “long hours, little pay, [and] no vacation for delivery drivers.” Levenson graphically explained for readers the “grueling nocturnal marathon for low-income workers who toil almost invisibly on the edge of the economy.” On January 13, a Globe editorial admitted that “drivers get no vacation, and lack worker protections.”

The editorial called on the Massachusetts attorney general and federal authorities to investigate the delivery companies. The present system depends on mostly immigrant, often undocumented workers who are often manipulated and bullied by unscrupulous employers. The Globe offered a rare look at how just one company relies on immigrant workers. A similar story could be told about thousands of U.S. companies in a number of labor-intensive industries, from agriculture to manufacturing to construction.

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Recent data released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) tells us that immigrants in the United States pay sales taxes, property taxes, and state and federal income taxes. Half of all working immigrant families file income tax returns, but if they don’t, the taxes are still paid because they’re deducted from paychecks. ITEP says “the 11.4 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States pay billions of dollars in local, state and federal taxes.” Hard-working immigrants deserve the same reasonable wages and benefits that U.S.-born workers expect and routinely enjoy.

If you are an immigrant in the United States – with or without documentation – and you have questions about your legal status, work authorization, visas, or any other immigration concern, speak at once with an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration lawyer. An experienced immigration attorney can also discuss immigration-related labor concerns with U.S.-based employers.

Immigration and The Flight From El Salvador

Two years ago – in 2014 – thousands of unaccompanied minors poured into the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The U.S. government was unprepared. The young people from Central America and the immigration authorities were caught in what President Obama called at the time an “urgent humanitarian situation.” In 2016, another crisis at the border may be imminent.

Entire families from El Salvador are flowing into the U.S. in what could be record numbers. The number of Salvadoran families apprehended along the Mexican-U.S. border has jumped by 96 percent in only a year, and more undocumented families are coming to the U.S. from El Salvador than from any other nation. This year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data, for every Mexican family detained at the border, ten Salvadoran families are apprehended. Salvadorans also face removal proceedings more often than immigrants from any other nation.

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Why are entire Salvadoran families fleeing their homes and doing whatever it takes – sometimes at great personal risk – to make it to the United States? Observers believe that El Salvador is on the edge of civil war. El Salvador’s attorney general’s office said in August that government forces recently thwarted a terrorist scheme designed to turn El Salvador’s gang-and-drug violence against the government itself. Prosecutors charged 78 leaders of “MS-13” with conspiring to buy high-caliber weapons in Guatemala and Mexico to attack government targets in the capital city, Managua, and across the nation.

The Salvadoran government charges that MS-13 was raising $1 million to buy assault rifles and ammo, surface-to-air missiles, bulletproof vests, and commando uniforms. The scheme, prosecutors say, was ultimately a nationwide assault to gain control of territory while disrupting El Salvador’s fragile economy and challenging the nation’s entrenched political leadership. By targeting police officers and politicians for daily assassinations, MS-13 hoped to both incite fear in the general populace and to bankrupt the government. Basically, the rebels intended to raise the fear level dramatically in what is already one of the world’s deadliest places.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE SALVADORAN GOVERNMENT SAY?

Opponents of the Salvadoran government are insisting that the case against the MS-13 leaders is fabricated entirely for propaganda purposes and that none of the charges are true. “This is an operation of psychological warfare,” according to Paolo Luers, a former gang truce mediator and opposition political activist. Luers says the government is trying to justify the harsh measures it adopted earlier this year to crack down on gang violence and to create distrust among MS-13’s leadership.

Luers told the Fusion Media Group that the gangs would never fight a war against the government. He says even trying to launch such a war would mean “the beginning of the end” of gang influence in Salvadoran villages, communities, and neighborhoods. The MS-13’s members themselves, in a “communique” released in June, insisted that “we don’t have any interest in involving the country in war.”

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Whether or not the insurgents in El Salvador are planning war, the number of Salvadoran families arriving in the United States suggests that most Salvadorans have no faith in their government to keep the peace. For these families, the risks of traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border are small compared to the danger of continuing to live in violence that could quickly turn into civil war.

IS REFUGEE OR ASYLUM STATUS RIGHT FOR YOU?

If you have fled from El Salvador, you may qualify for either refugee status or asylum status in the U.S. If you are currently not in the United States, you must apply for refugee status, but those who make it to the U.S.-Mexican border may apply for asylum status. Both statuses give legal protection to immigrants who are afraid to return home. Those approved for refugee or asylum status are authorized to seek work in the U.S. and may apply for lawful permanent residence – a green card – after only a year.

Not every Salvadoran will qualify for refugee or asylum status. Immigrants applying for asylum or refugee status should first discuss their particular case with an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney. The right immigration lawyer can also see to it that all of your legal paperwork and documents are in order, since any errors could delay approval for refugee or asylum status.

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Honestly, very few immigrants are eventually approved for asylum status in the United States. Only one in twenty of the immigrants who received green cards in 2011 entered the U.S. as asylum seekers. Yet the imperative for legal protection is greater now than ever. Drug wars and gang violence dominate much of Central America, while ethnic violence and religious warfare continue to pose threats in north Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the globe.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRANT BE APPROVED FOR ASYLUM STATUS?

To petition for asylum status, you must submit a USCIS Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) within a year of entering the U.S. Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 already in the United States may be included in your petition. After a year, those granted asylum may apply for a green card by submitting USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status). You must submit a separate Form I-485 for a family member who was granted derivative asylum on the basis of your own case.

You’ll have to wait 150 days – or until your asylum status is approved, whichever comes first – to apply for employment authorization. After 150 days, if no determination regarding asylum status has been made, you may petition for work authorization by submitting USCIS Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). Make sure that an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney helps you with the application forms and other legal documents.

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Historically, the United States has been a beacon of hope to immigrants everywhere who seek a better life for themselves and their families. Immigration law in the United States is exceedingly complex – in fact, it’s a broken and antiquated immigration system badly in need of reform. But with a bit of patience, a bit of effort, and sound legal advice from the right immigration attorney, most immigrants can move ahead successfully with their plans for a better life in the United States.

Business Coalition Asks Congress To Renew EB-5 Investor Visa Program

For more than two decades, the EB-5 investor visa program has benefitted U.S.-based businesses as well as international investors. It’s created tens of thousands of jobs here in the United States. It’s also been criticized for a number of reasons. Congressional authorization for the EB-5 program is scheduled to expire in 2016 at the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Hopefully, Congress will act to protect and strengthen the EB-5 program and safeguard its ongoing success.

With the September 30 deadline rapidly approaching, international investors who would like to learn more about the EB-5 investor visa program and about the variety of investment opportunities in the United States may want to speak right away with an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. Congress will almost certainly renew the EB-5 program this year, but the lawmakers will also almost certainly make some important changes. The $500,000 minimum investment level may increase, the definition of a Targeted Employment Area will likely change, and there will almost certainly be new requirements for participating investors.

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Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Real Estate Roundtable, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and others have joined in a coalition urging Congress to renew – permanently – the often-controversial EB-5 investor visa program before it expires in September. In July, the coalition called on lawmakers to renew the EB-5 investor visa program with additional security measures, adjustments to the controversial investment incentives, and streamlined processing of visa requests.

WHAT DOES THE EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM OFFER?

The EB-5 investor visa program promises international investors in the United States eventual lawful resident status and an opportunity for naturalized citizenship. In a letter to both the House and Senate Judiciary committees, the coalition wrote that “Congress must not let this important job-creating program lapse, in large measure because of the immediate negative consequences to U.S. businesses and projects counting on EB-5 investment to create jobs for Americans.”

The coalition’s July letter also mentions that the EB-5 investor visa program was responsible for more than $15 billion in investment and for creating approximately 100,000 jobs between 2005 and 2010. Some critics, however, allege that the EB-5 program is riddled with fraud, and others charge that the current operation of the program fails to meet the goal of reinvigorating economically depressed communities and regions. There’s wide agreement in Congress that additional security measures and some adjustments to the program are needed. Several lawmakers have even proposed the creation of a new “EB-6” visa.

The most acrimonious aspect of the EB-5 debate regards investments in economically depressed areas designated as Targeted Investment Areas (TEAs). Critics charge that wealthy real estate developers have unfairly taken advantage of the lower investment minimum required for TEAs, and that rural and depressed regions are not obtaining the benefits from the EB-5 program that they’ve been promised.

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The coalition of business groups did not offer a specific proposal for new EB-5 legislation, but they want to reduce the gap between TEA and non-TEA minimum investment requirements. Their July letter to the two Judiciary committees says, “Lawmakers and stakeholders with diverse perspectives should all be involved to build consensus and forge a compromise reform package.”

HOW HAS THE EB-5 PROGRAM BENEFITTED THE UNITED STATES?

Since the recession, the EB-5 investor visa program has emerged as a popular source of investment funds, particularly for real estate development projects. In the nation’s capital alone, EB-5 investors have put up more than $110 million and created more than 1,500 jobs. In 2013, about 85 percent of the EB-5 visas issued went to investors from China, with the others were spread among investors mostly from Japan, Great Britain, Russia, and South Korea.

Congress wants to tighten oversight of the popular program, so a number of changes to the EB-5 have been offered by lawmakers. The ideas include increasing the minimum investment, not counting derivative visas toward the annual cap of 10,000 EB-5 visas, and heightened scrutiny of applications and investments. The variety of proposals proves how important the EB-5 program is to the U.S. and to its job creation and economic growth. Between 2005 and 2013, the EB-5 program brought roughly $5.2 billion investment dollars directly into the United States.

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Under the current regulations, an international investor seeking to obtain an EB-5 visa must invest at least $1 million – or at least $500,000 in a TEA – in a new business that will create ten or more full-time U.S.-based jobs. The EB-5 program additionally offers participating international investors and their immediate families the benefits of lawful permanent residency in the United States.

WHAT IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

To participate in the EB-5 investor visa program, investors must go through a process which determines that they are admissible to the United States as well as eligible for the EB-5 visa. It begins with the filing of an eligibility petition. For the EB-5 visa, this is the I-526 petition, which asks about the source of the investor’s funds and how he or she intends to invest those funds. Upon approval of the eligibility petition, if the investor now lives outside the of the U.S., he or she must submit a visa application to the U.S. Department of State, and a consular affairs officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate eventually determines if the investor is admissible.

If the investor is in the United States with another visa, an application for adjustment of status must be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS conducts background checks and may ask the applicant for a personal interview. USCIS may also be assisted by the State Department or other federal government agencies when conducting background checks of EB-5 applicants.

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If the investor is admissible, a conditional visa will be issued that allows the investor to reside for two years in the United States. Prior to the conclusion of that two-year period, the EB-5 investment must create at least ten full-time U.S.-based jobs. If all of the other requirements of the EB-5 investor visa program have been satisfied in the two-year period, the investor obtains lawful permanent resident status.

International investors should also speak with an Ohio immigration attorney about two additional immigration options apart from the EB-5 program: the E-2 visa program, which requires a “significant” investment and does not provide the investor with a green card, and the EB-1(c) visa, which requires an applicant to be sponsored by a qualifying employer. Immigration is complicated, and obtaining an investor visa takes some persistence, but in the end, international investors are almost always quite pleased.

U.S. Lawmakers Propose Revisions To Prevent H-1B Visa Misuse

Abuse of the H-1B visa program is now a national controversy. In June, the New York Times reported that H-1B visas are “being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.” That abuse, which potentially threatens the future of the H-1B visa program, needs to stop, because attracting talented workers in science, math, engineering, and technology is essential for U.S. economic success and growth in the years ahead. U.S. employers who genuinely need H-1B employees are also victims of the abuse because it makes fewer H-1B visas available for their legitimate, intended purpose.

H-1B visas are designed for college-educated international employees in occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge, but only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. Nevertheless, in many cases, laid-off American workers have reportedly been forced to train their lower-paid foreign replacements. Companies accused of abusing the H-1B visa program include Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, Southern California Edison, Disney, Toys “R” Us, and New York Life.

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Loopholes in the immigrations laws are at least partially responsible for the abuse. In many cases, U.S.-based businesses that employ H-1B international workers are not even required to consider U.S. workers before hiring from abroad. Many businesses outsource the actual hiring of H-1B workers to companies like Infosys and Tata, temporary staffing firms mostly located in India.

IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR QUICK IMMIGRATION REFORM?

Comprehensive immigration reform has been stalled in Congress for several years, and there’s little hope now for any significant reform until a new Congress convenes in 2017. U.S. employers who genuinely need to hire H-1B workers should consider seeking legal advice and services from an experienced Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney who can explain the H-1B program and its requirements.

Until recently, abuse of the H-1B visa program has been overlooked by lawmakers because attention has been so focused on other immigration issues – problems with border security and the controversy over President Obama’s executive orders regarding deferred action. While lawmakers are only now focusing on H-1B visa abuse, the U.S. workers impacted by it have been silent for only one reason.

Most displaced U.S. workers had to agree not to criticize their former employers as a condition of severance pay. As explained by the New York Times in June, these “nondisparagement agreements” – gag orders, for all practical purposes – have kept laid-off employees away from the public’s attention while allowing the employers to defend their hiring procedures as legal. Technically, the employers are in fact operating within the law – they’re simply exploiting its loopholes.

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However, that’s changing. More than a dozen ex-employees at Abbott have filed claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging they were discriminated against because of their U.S. citizenship. Ex-Disney employees have also filed federal lawsuits charging Disney and two outsourcing firms of colluding to replace U.S. workers with foreign nationals holding H-1B visas.

Leaders of both political parties have questioned the use of nondisparagement agreements. Senator Richard Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate, and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, have both offered proposed revisions to current immigration laws that would allow laid-off U.S. employees replaced by international workers to challenge their layoffs legally.

WHAT ARE LAWMAKERS SAYING ABOUT H-1B ABUSE?

“I have heard from workers who are fearful of retaliation,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told the New York Times. “They are told they can say whatever they want, except they can’t say anything negative about being fired.” Senator Durbin, who is from Illinois, vigorously criticized the layoffs and said that Abbott’s nondisparagement clause was “overly broad.”

Do foreign nationals participating in the H-1B visa program fill a legitimate gap in the U.S. labor force, or is the H-1B program exploited by some U.S. employers merely to save dollars at the expense of U.S. workers? That’s the concern that many are now expressing. Professor Hal Salzman, a labor expert at Rutgers University, told the Times that because of the loopholes, in the last five years, thousands of U.S. workers have been replaced by foreign nationals holding H-1B temporary visas.

Although many suspect that some U.S. businesses take advantage of the H-1B visa program simply to reduce labor costs, the Brookings Institution has published statistics demonstrating that foreign nationals holding H-1B visas, in fact, earn more than equally qualified U.S. workers in comparable jobs. Exploiting the H-1B visa program to boost the corporate bottom line is wrong, but it’s something we can all understand. Although the Department of Labor announced in 2015 that it is cracking down on U.S.-based businesses that exploit the H-1B visa program, what Congress really must do is close the loopholes that allow the abuses to continue legally.

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CAN U.S. EMPLOYERS STILL OBTAIN AND BENEFIT FROM H-1B VISAS?

Does the ongoing controversy mean that a U.S.-based business can no longer benefit from the H-1B visa program? Absolutely not. Despite the abuses, no employer in the United States has an edge over any other company in the pursuit of H-1B visas. And it’s never too early for employers to start preparing for next year’s H-1B filing period. The qualifications for H-1B visas are quite strict, and as you probably are aware, the demand for H-1B exceeds the supply.

U.S.-based employers are supposed to use the H-1B visas exclusively to hire international workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge. Raising the current cap on the number of H-1B visas that Congress authorizes each year would help close the gap between the low number of H-1B visas and the continually-expanding needs of growing U.S.-based businesses.

Stopping the abuse of the H-1B visa program is also an absolute imperative. Visas now being used by some employers simply to save money would become available to the employers who genuinely need highly-skilled international workers. International employees who receive H-1B visas must hold at least a bachelor’s degree. They are allowed to work in the U.S. for up to six years.

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Since 2005, Congress has capped the number of H-1B visas made available annually at 85,000, with 20,000 of those visas set aside for workers holding advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. H-1B visas will continue to be difficult – but not impossible – for employers to acquire until comprehensive immigration reform passes and the current abuses are ended. If you’re an employer in the United States attempting to acquire one or more H-1B visas, a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney can handle the visa petitions on your behalf and help you to understand your legal obligations as an employer of H-1B visa holders.

Who Qualifies For EB-5 Investor Visas?

International investors who are seeking a great investment opportunity should speak to an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer about the EB-5 investor visa program. International investors who are not familiar with the EB-5 immigrant investor program may appreciate a brief summary regarding what the EB-5 visa is, who qualifies, and why it’s important. The Immigration Act of 1990 creates five employment-based immigration categories. As the fifth employment-based immigration category, the immigrant investor program is designated “EB-5.”

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Like many nations, the United States seeks international investors who can create jobs and boost the national economy. The EB-5 immigrant investor visa allows those investors to become lawful permanent residents immediately upon entering the United States. Investors applying for the EB-5 visa must invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a U.S.-based business, take an active role in the business, and create at least ten full-time jobs. Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each year, so if more than 10,000 investors apply for the visa in a single year, some of them may be placed on a waiting list.

The EB-5 investor visa is one of the most difficult immigrant visas to obtain. Investors must meet not only the eligibility requirements established for all immigrants to the United States, but the investment itself must also be approved. It’s best to work from the very beginning with a U.S.-based immigration lawyer located near your investment site – a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney, for instance.

WHY DO EB-5 VISA APPLICANTS NEED AN ATTORNEY?

If you apply to obtain an EB-5 visa on your own, and you are unsuccessful, you may damage your chances of success in the future. And because you are expected to make the investment first and then subsequently apply for the visa and green card, you could be putting your money at risk if you make an investment or apply for a visa without first seeking an immigration attorney’s advice. EB-5 green cards expire in two years. That’s the amount of time an EB-5 investment has to create the necessary ten or more full-time jobs. If it hasn’t, or if an investor fails in some other way to maintain EB-5 eligibility, the green card is canceled.

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As long as an investor has the money to invest, and as long as the investment is in a for-profit business, the investor is not required to have any particular business training or experience. An investor who receives a green card must actually reside in the U.S. upon receiving it. The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under age 21 receive derivative green cards provided they meet all other immigration eligibility requirements.

An EB-5 investor can lose his or her visa and green card by living outside of the United States, committing a crime in the United States, or even by failing to report a change of address. A conviction for a crime or the violation of any terms of the visa makes a visa holder deportable. However, if an international investor retains a green card for five years and lives in the U.S. continuously during that time (which includes the first two years as a conditional resident), an investor can apply for naturalized U.S. citizenship.

WHAT INVESTMENTS QUALIFY FOR THE EB-5 PROGRAM?

EB-5 visas may be obtained with several types of investment. Most EB-5 applicants invest in an EB-5 “regional center,” a group that operates a business created by EB-5 investments. EB-5 regional centers are attractive because investors do not have to create their own businesses, and the minimum investment is only $500,000 rather than the $1 million minima that is otherwise required.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) designates and approves regional centers, which are designed to meet USCIS requirements for the initial, conditional EB-5 visa. Investors must take care to select a regional center that will actually deliver on its promises to meet USCIS requirements – not all can or do. An immigration lawyer in the U.S. – a Michigan or Ohio immigration attorney, for example –  can help you make the right EB-5 investment choice.

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Investors can also obtain an EB-5 visa by directly investing in their own businesses. The minimum requirement is a $1 million investment to create a new business in the United States or to expand or restructure an existing U.S.-based business. In certain designated rural settings and in other designated locations in the U.S. where unemployment is high, the investment minimum is $500,000.

WHAT ARE EB-5 APPLICANTS REQUIRED TO PROVE?

EB-5 investors are required to prove to USCIS that their investment money is theirs and that it was legally obtained. Investors will need to provide evidence such as pay records, tax records, and/or inheritance documents. Within two years, the business receiving the investment must create at least ten full-time jobs requiring at least 35 hours a week. Jobs held at the business by the investor or by his or her spouse or children do not count toward the ten-job requirement.

It’s also important for investors to understand that EB-5 investments require the investor’s active participation in either a management role or a decision-making role. Passive investments such as land speculation typically do not qualify for the EB-5 program. If an investor works with a regional center that is a limited partnership (most regional centers are), USCIS considers that to be sufficient participation. A direct EB-5 investment must create a new business, purchase a business that was established since November 29, 1990, or buy a business and restructure or reorganize it so that a new business entity is the result.

EB-5 is the only immigration category that allows international investors entry into the U.S. as automatic legal permanent residents. Even though the EB-5 program started slowly after the Immigration Act of 1990 became law, in recent years, international investors have expressed rising interest. In 2014, for example, EB-5 investments totaled approximately $2.6 billion and created more than 16,000 full-time jobs in the United States.

For those with the resources, the EB-5 investor visa is probably the best path to lawful permanent residency and naturalized U.S. citizenship. If you seek to become a lawful permanent U.S. resident, and if you have the ability to invest in a U.S.-based business, the EB-5 investor visa program may be right for you. Every visa and every immigration procedure takes time, so interested investors should speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer promptly to begin the process.