Spending Bill Extends EB-5 Investor Visa Program to September 30; Funding for Border Wall Noticeably Absent
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 extends the EB-5 immigrant investor visa, but no funding for a border wall.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2018 H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Notable developments in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for June 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced implementation of a policy memorandum.
Alabama federal court to decide whether to reinstate protections to Jessica Colotl under the program
The latest news at the firm including recent and upcoming events and publications.
1. Spending Bill Extends EB-5 Investor Visa Program to September 30; Funding for Border Wall Noticeably Absent
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, passed by Congress and signed by the President on May 5th, extends the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program through September 30, 2017.
The legislation also provides a large border-security funding increase, among other things, but was also notable for what it didn’t contain – funding for construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border, which was promised by President Trump beginning with the campaign and through the early months of his term.
Regarding EB-5, there is some reason to believe legislation could be enacted prior to September 30, 2017 that would change program criteria, such as increases in the minimum investment amount, which are currently set at $1 million (or $500,000 for rural and high unemployment areas). In addition to potential legislation, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking affecting the EB-5 program that may materialize into new regulations, which would take effect in the absence of new law superseding them. But in the meantime, the EB-5 program will be business as usual while it enjoys this short-term extension alongside other programs attached to the Spending Bill.[Back to Top]
2. USCIS Completes Data Entry of FY18 H-1B Cap
Due to the high volume of H-1B filings, which totaled 199,000 during the period from April 3 to April 7, USCIS was unable to provide a definite time frame for returning non-selected petitions. USCIS asked petitioners not to inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
Additionally, USCIS is transferring some Form I-129 H-1B cap-subject petitions from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. USCIS will notify by mail those whose cases are transferred.
The Service will continue to accept cap-exempt petitions including petitions for those current H-1B workers who were previously counted against the cap who are seeking to extend the amount of time in the U.S.; change the terms of employment; change employers; or seek concurrent employment via a second H-1B petition. However, the 6-month suspension on premium processing for H-1B petitions, including cap-subject petitions, remains in place.[Back to Top]
3. Continued High Demand for Several Employment-Based Visas Results in Cut-Off Dates
The EB-1 date for these two countries, which are experiencing a spike in demand in the EB-1 category, will once again become Current for October, the first month of fiscal year 2018.
There has also been an extremely large increase in China employment third preference applicant demand during the past month, due to the “downgrading” of status by applicants who had originally filed in the employment second preference category. This has resulted in the third preference final action date being held for the month of June. Continued heavy demand for numbers will require a retrogression of this date no later than August.
There also is continued high demand in the India EB-4 and special religious worker categories, trends that are likely to result in the India EB-4 per-country limit being reached in June. Therefore, implementation of July EB-4 and special religious worker final action dates for India are expected. The India EB-4 and special religious worker dates should once again become Current for October.[Back to Top]
4. USCIS Implements New Interpreter Policy and Form
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the May 1, 2017, implementation of a policy memorandum issued on January 17, 2017 affecting use of interpreters at domestic field offices.
The guidance applies to all interviews except those in which USCIS provides the interpreter or has other policies in place, such as asylum and refugee interviews; credible fear and reasonable fear screening interviews; interviews to determine eligibility for relief under provisions of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act; and naturalization interviews, unless the interviewee qualifies for an exception to demonstrating adequate proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English. The standards also do not apply to document translations submitted to the Service or to interviews conducted at international field offices.
The guidance states that interpreters must be sufficiently fluent in both English and the interviewee’s language, able to interpret competently between English and the interviewee’s language, and able to interpret impartially and without bias. Those restricted from serving as interpreters include minors under age 18 (an exception for good cause may be granted for those age 14-17); attorneys and accredited representatives of the interviewee; and witnesses (unless an exception for good cause is granted). A witness is anyone who gives a personal account, orally or in writing, of something seen, heard, or experienced.
USCIS has introduced a new form, Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview, as part of implementation of this guidance. Both the interviewee and the interpreter must sign the form at the beginning of the interview in the presence of a USCIS officer. The form includes a declaration stating that the interpreter must accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the interviewee and interviewing officer, and requires the interpreter to agree not to disclose any personal information learned in the interview.
USCIS officers will receive training to implement the new policy. The full policy memorandum is available here.[Back to Top]
5. DACA Recipient Files Suit Over Revoked Status
Jessica Colotl, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient whose case has received publicity over the years, has had her DACA status revoked. Her case is currently pending with a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia who is currently reviewing a motion to reinstate protections granted to Jessica under DACA, which include temporary relief from removal and valid work authorization.
Jessica’s parents brought her to the United States from Mexico when she was 11. She was granted DACA status in 2013, which was renewed last year. In the intervening years, her parents moved back to Mexico but she stayed in the United States, graduated from college, and has been working as an immigration paralegal. Last year, she wanted to travel to Mexico to visit her ill mother, but since she had an outstanding removal order, she filed a motion to reopen and administratively close her removal proceedings. An immigration judge denied the request but the Board of Immigration Appeals found in her favor and sent the case back to the immigration judge to administratively close her case. However, the immigration judge asked the government for its position in writing, and in a supplemental filing in March 2017, the government said her case shouldn’t be closed because she was a priority for removal according to new guidelines issued in February 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security, available here.
Jessica was cited as a priority for removal in connection with an incident in 2010 in which she was pulled over on campus for blocking traffic in the parking lot of her college, Kennesaw State University, in which it was determined Jessica was driving without a license. She was subsequently charged with a felony false statement to a law enforcement officer when her address as given to authorities didn’t match the record, but representatives of Ms. Colotl dispute that the charges ever amounted to a formal conviction. At the time of the incident, Ms. Colotl was detained for 37 days in an Alabama detention facility pursuant to a program known as 287(g) in which local states and counties may enter into agreements with the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to permit local authorities to perform the functions of an immigration officer and to coordinate with immigration authorities in effecting the detention and removal of certain immigrants.
Jessica is fighting for reinstatement of the DACA protections for which she was approved and deemed eligible by USCIS in a renewal application, which contained information about the 2010 incident. Jessica’s story, which has become a high-profile matter at the center of ongoing immigration debates, is available here and here.[Back to Top]
6. Klasko News
IN THE NEWS
Innovative EB-5 Regional Center Database Tool Launched
In mid-May, an exciting collaboration between Klasko Immigration Law Partners and EB5 Affiliate Network (“EB5AN”) launched the Regional Center Database Tool. The Database Tool provides much needed transparency for EB-5 project sponsors and developers, by allowing users to gain immediate access to USCIS regional centers meeting the necessary geographic coverage.
Ronald Klasko Serves as Program Co-Organizer for 2017 Invest in America Summit in China
Ron presented on two subjects in Shanghai and Beijing. One topic included alternative visa options available to EB-5 Investors, particularly Chinese investors, who are interested in working and residing in the U.S. while they wait for the priority date on their EB-5 visa to become current, or who are considering other non-EB-5 paths to permanent residency altogether. He also presented on a panel involving strategies for dealing with the Chinese quota backlogs.
William A. Stock Quoted in Multiple News Outlets on Immigration
Klasko partner and AILA President, Bill Stock, has been busy! In an article from Bloomberg, Bill speaks about agriculture in America being very dependent on immigrant labor. Ahead of two house bills heading to Judiciary Committee for review, Bill remarked they would “create another expensive big government program that would pull not just immigrants, but all taxpayers, into its maw.” In April, Bill also weighed in on, in this Guardian article, ICE agents removing individuals that aren’t explicitly targeted for deportation in Trump’s immigration policy.
RANKINGS AND LISTINGS
Partners Named Among the World’s Leading Corporate Immigration Lawyers
Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP is pleased to announce H. Ronald Klasko, William A. Stock, and Elise A. Fialkowski have been named among the world’s leading Corporate Immigration lawyers by Who’s Who Legal: Corporate Immigration 2017.
Furthermore, Ron was recognized with the special distinction of Thought Leader in the newly released Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders 2017 publication. The editor notes only the top 2 percent of all lawyers listed across all Who’s Who guides are selected for inclusion in this exclusive publication.
We congratulate Ron, Bill and Elise on once again being selected and honored as the world’s leading Corporate Immigration Lawyers. To review the listing on the Who’s Who Legal website, click here.
UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
H. Ronald Klasko
Ron will moderate a multi-national panel dealing with EB-5 and other investment programs at the Investment Migration Forum in Geneva from June 5 to June 7, 2017. Members of the Investment Migration Counsel and attendees of the Forum include government representatives, wealth managers, lawyers, bankers, accountants and other professionals and academics, as well as migration agents. That following Friday, Ron will present at the Arnstein & Lehr Annual Advanced EB-5 Seminar on June 9. Two weeks later, Ron will be headed to New Orleans, with several other Klasko attorneys, to attend and present at the 2017 AILA Annual Conference. Ron will be the discussion leader on a panel on Thursday June 22 covering Advanced Issues in EB-5 Cases.
Elise A. Fialkowski
Elise is currently in Los Angeles attending the NAFSA 2017 Annual Conference and Expo, presenting as discussion leader on Hot Topics in Advanced Employment-Based Immigration. Later in June, she will join other Klasko attorneys in New Orleans to attend first the AILA Global Annual Immigration Forum before attending the 2017 AILA Annual Conference. On Wednesday, June 21, she will be panel discussion leader on Countdown to Departure – Getting There the Right Way Made Easy, which will focus on the many issues that must be addressed before the employee sets foot in the destination country. Then, on Saturday, June 24, at the 2017 AILA Annual Conference, Elise will participate in the presentation, Dabbling in a Global Practice: Important Ethical Issues to Consider.
William A. Stock
As Bill completes his term as AILA President, he has numerous engagements planned for the 2017 AILA Annual Conference. First, on Thursday June 22, alongside other AILA National Officers, he will participate in a Hot Topics Strategy Session. On Saturday, he will present on a panel covering changes in the practice of immigration law entitled Futures 101: Envisioning Your Future in Immigration Practice.
Andrew J. Zeltner
On the final day of the 2017 AILA Annual Conference, Drew will serve as discussion leader on an intermediate-level panel called Maintaining LPR Status: Life After Getting a Green Card, which will provide guidance on preserving U.S. permanent residence when assigned or living abroad temporarily.
RECENT SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
Ron attended the 2017 Invest in America Summit, speaking on two subjects in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. He discussed other visa options available to EB-5 Investors, including L-1 and E-2 visas. His second panel discussed strategies for dealing with the Chinese quota backlogs.
William A. Stock
Bill Stock recently visited both Penn State University and Thomas Jefferson University to cover similar topics for both institutions: visa options for scholars, researchers and students after graduation.
Elise A. Fialkowski | Andrew J. Zeltner
Elise and Andrew (Drew) presented at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia for a discussion about immigrants and entrepreneurship, the new Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule and the legal immigration options open to entrepreneurs.
Anu recently traveled to China to present and attend the 2017 Beijing EB-5 Investment and Immigration Expo. The Expo featured educational and networking in order to enhance communication and cooperation in the global investment immigration industry.
Julianne presented on immigration to students and teachers of local area Radnor High School as part of a Civil Rights series. Julianne spoke about the new executive orders affecting immigration and related litigation, and educated young students on the rights, challenges and opportunities facing undocumented persons in the U.S. The presentation concluded with a meet and greet between the students and a college freshman and “Dreamer” from the popular DACA program, and interviews with Julianne as part of the students’ final projects.
William A. Stock Published in The Legal Intelligencer with an Article on Increased Compliance Visits
Bill sheds some clarity on a recent situation at a school in Queens NY, while offering some proactive advice to prepare for something similar. Click here to read the full article.
Klasko Laces Up to Benefit the Support Center for Child Advocates
On Sunday, May 21, Klasko staff members made a mad dash to support abused children at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. The Philadelphia Bar Association 5K Run/Walk is one of the oldest and most respected events of its kind in Philadelphia.
This newsletter was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Klasko Immigration Law Partners is an active member.[Back to Top]