Immigrant Entrepreneurship: An American Success Story

Posted in EB-5 Program, Global Immigration, Immigration Law

On June 4, 2019, the Kenan Institute released a timely policy brief, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship: An American Success Story,” on the value of highly skilled and motivated foreign entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy. The brief states, “When looking at the founding of the United States’ largest startups…[t]he immigrant-founded startups employ an average of more than 1,200 workers each, and have collective values of $248 billion.”

This brief follows a March 2019 comprehensive analysis of the EB-5 immigrant investor programs for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. According to the March release,

The study, prepared by Economic & Policy Resources, Inc. (EPR), estimated the economic benefits and job creation contributions of all EB-5 regional center projects that were active in federal fiscal years 2014 and 2015 using the most geographically robust methodology employed to date and a comprehensive EB-5 regional center project activity data set supplied by IIUSA. The study also showed that the regional center program contributed more than $23 billion in labor income to the U.S. economy and resulted in nearly $55 billion—or 3 percent—added to U.S. economic output.

‘Economic activity and job creation effects of this scale represent a call to the EB-5 industry and legislative policymakers to take action,’ said Jeffrey Carr, one of the report’s co-authors and President of EPR. ‘Absent that action, the economic contributions quantified in this study will merely represent “lost opportunity” for the U.S. economy. Tens of billions of future foreign investment dollars and hundreds of thousands of new U.S. job opportunities hang in the balance.’ Robert Chase, Senior Economist at EPR, was the report’s other co-author.

The Kenan Institute brief concludes by encouraging U.S. policies, such as EB-5, to attract global entrepreneurs:

Despite the empirical evidence that high-skilled immigrants contribute significant value to the U.S. economy, major hurdles exist for them to obtain visas that allow for starting new ventures. In the current era of global talent competition, we suggest that there are specific policies that the United States can implement to lower barriers for immigrant entrepreneurs, benefit from high-skilled immigrants and foster associated entrepreneurial economic growth.

For more on EB-5 and job creation, click here.

For more on EB-5 and the economy, click here.

Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens – Stakeholder Message

Posted in President Trump's Administration, USCIS

USCIS Acting Director Cuccinelli tweeted June 14 that “@USCIS took action to further @POTUS directive to enforce the legal responsibilities of sponsors. Self-sufficiency is a principle that has been enshrined in our laws since the 1800s & we must ensure that immigrants who become part of our country abide by this principle.” His multiple tweets also stated that USCIS will now “remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities… reimbursement for any federal means-tested public benefits” and will work with all necessary federal partners to implement the presidential memorandum.

The presidential memorandum is here.

Following is the USCIS message to stakeholders, issued today:

On May 23, 2019, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. The purpose of the memorandum is to direct relevant federal agencies to update or issue procedures, guidance, and regulations, as needed, to comply with current law and ensure that ineligible immigrants do not receive federal means-tested benefits. With the memorandum, the Administration seeks to enforce long-standing immigration laws, ensure consistency among federal and state agencies responsible in administering any federal means-tested public benefit programs, and protect the American taxpayer.

Most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, when they apply for status as a lawful permanent resident. The individual executing the affidavit of support, whether sponsor, substitute sponsor, or joint sponsor, agrees to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant who applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident.

Since Dec. 19, 1997, federal law has required an immigrant’s sponsor to reimburse any benefit granting entity in the event the sponsored immigrant applies for or receives means-tested public benefits. The INA also requires that, if a benefit-granting entity is notified that a sponsored immigrant is receiving a means-tested public benefit, the benefit-granting entity request reimbursement from the sponsor(s). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 states that when an individual with an affidavit of support applies for a federal means-tested benefit, the income and resources of the sponsor and the sponsor’s spouse are deemed to be income and resources when determining the immigrant’s ’s eligibility for the benefit.

Over the next several months, federal agencies will develop and implement guidance related to the presidential memorandum to ensure that agencies enforce these long-established requirements under the law. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will do its part and is actively working to implement the President’s directive and enforce the law.

For more information on the Memorandum, the Affidavit of Support, and sponsor responsibilities, visit

Kind regards,

Public Engagement Division

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

For more on USCIS, click here.

Greenberg Traurig Attends Samsung’s “Seoul Sisters” Event

Posted in Events

Greenberg Traurig was proud to attend Samsung’s annual “Seoul Sisters” Women’s Conference in Teaneck, New Jersey. The event was created for Samsung employees from across all of Samsung’s North American subsidiaries to come together and discuss best practices, leadership topics, and other hot topics. Greenberg Traurig is especially proud that one of the key presenters was former GT Co-President Hilarie Bass, who is now President and Founder of the Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion and immediate past president of the American Bar Association.

Greenberg Traurig’s Kristen Ng and Martha Schoonover with Hilarie Bass, President and Founder, Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion and immediate past president of the American Bar Association

Greenberg Traurig’s Kristen Ng and Martha Schoonover with Hilarie Bass, President and Founder, Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion, and immediate past president of the American Bar Association.


Greenberg Traurig’s Kristen Ng introduces Keynote Speaker, Hilarie Bass

Greenberg Traurig’s Kristen Ng introduces keynote speaker Hilarie Bass.


Click here to read about Greenberg Traurig’s Women’s Initiative.

Ian Macdonald, Jennifer Hermansky, and Courtney Noce Named 2019 Immigration Law Trailblazers

Posted in Awards & Recognitions

Ian R. Macdonald, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Immigration & Compliance Practice, as well as Jennifer Hermansky and Courtney B. Noce, shareholders in the practice, were each recognized by the National Law Journal (NLJ) with the 2019 Immigration Trailblazer award. The award recognizes movers and shakers in the legal industry who have made an impact in their sector through new strategies and innovative court cases. Macdonald, Hermansky, and Noce were featured in a special NLJ supplement that was published in early June.

To read the full press release, click here.

USCIS Announces Cap Reached for Additional H-2B Visas for FY 2019

Posted in H-2B

USCIS announced June 7 it had received sufficient petitions to reach the recently allocated 30,000 additional returning worker H-2B visas (see our related May 8 post here). Some commenters had noted that the returning worker and the “irreparable harm” attestation requirements required under the additional allocation might suppress utilization. Even with the additional requirements, U.S. employers maintained demand for the increased resources in one month’s time.

Here is the June 7 USCIS statement:

Cap Reached for Additional H-2B Visas for FY 2019

USCIS has received enough petitions to reach the additional maximum 30,000 visas made available for returning workers under the H-2B numerical limit (also called a cap) for fiscal year (FY) 2019.

As previously announced, USCIS began accepting H-2B petitions on May 8 under the temporary final rule increasing the cap by up to 30,000 additional H-2B nonimmigrant visas for returning workers through the end of FY 2019.

USCIS will reject and return any cap-subject petitions received after June 5, together with any accompanying filing fees.

USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and Please contact your GT attorney with questions and please check back as this matter and others will be updated as information becomes available.
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.

Please contact your GT attorney with questions, and please check back as this matter and others will be updated as information becomes available.

For more on H-2B visas, click here.

Premium Processing Begins for Remaining H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions on June 10, 2019

Posted in H-1B, H-1B Cap, H-1B Premium Processing, USCIS, Visas

Per its announcement on June 7, USCIS started accepting premium processing requests for all remaining FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions on June 10, 2019. This allows petitioners to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service with the service center processing their cap-subject H-1B petition. Previously, USCIS accepted premium processing requests only for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status.

On March 19, USCIS announced it would offer premium processing requests in a two-phase approach for the FY 2020 cap season to “best manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as in previous years.” The first phase allowed premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status. The second phase now allows premium processing for all other FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions.

Initially starting April 1, FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on their Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker could request premium processing by concurrently filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service with the petition. However, USCIS would not begin premium processing for these petitions until May 20, 2019. Petitioners who did not file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service concurrently with an FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petition requesting a change of status had to wait until premium processing began on May 20 to submit Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

Prepaid Mailer Temporary Suspension:

From June 10 to June 24, USCIS will not use prepaid self-addressed return mailers to return final notices for premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject petitions that do no request a change of status. USCIS claims “using pre-paid mailers requires a separate and more time-consuming manual process” while use of “regular mailer is fully automated.”

For more on H-1B petitions, click here.

New Leadership at USCIS; Former VA AG Ken Cuccinelli Named Acting Director

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Global Immigration, Immigration Law, USCIS

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been appointed acting director of USCIS, replacing Acting Director Koumans. Director Koumans replaced Director Cissna on June 3 as acting director. 

Below is the USCIS release:

WASHINGTON— Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan today announced that Kenneth T. (Ken) Cuccinelli will serve as the new acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), effective June 10, 2019.

Cuccinelli will lead an agency of 19,000 employees and contractors who are responsible for administering our nation’s lawful immigration system while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values. In fiscal year 2018 alone, USCIS adjudicated more than 8.7 million requests for immigration benefits.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at this critical time and serve alongside this agency’s dedicated workforce,” said Acting Director Cuccinelli. “USCIS has the extraordinary responsibility to administer and protect the integrity of our nation’s lawful immigration system. Our nation has the most generous legal immigration system in the world and we must zealously safeguard its promise for those who lawfully come here. I look forward to working with the men and women of USCIS to ensure our legal immigration system operates effectively and efficiently while deterring fraud and protecting the American people.”

Cuccinelli previously served as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010 to 2014. During his time as attorney general, he led the Commonwealth in fighting human trafficking. Additionally, he led efforts resulting in record enforcement against gangs, health care fraud, and child predators. Cuccinelli also served in the Senate of Virginia from 2002 to 2010 and has practiced law for nearly 25 years.

Cuccinelli earned a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Virginia, a law degree from Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and a Masters in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University.

Cuccinelli and his wife, Teiro, grew up and live in Virginia and have seven children.

For more on USCIS, click here.

The United States Will Now Require Visa Applicants to Provide Social Media Information

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, social media, U.S. Department of State (DOS), Visas

Under a new State Department policy, virtually all visa applicants to the United States are now required to submit information about social media accounts they have used in the past five years.

Applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas must use the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to complete online forms for nonimmigrant (DS-160) or immigrant (DS-260) visas. The Department has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to request additional information, including “social media identifiers,” from almost all U.S. applicants.

The new visa application forms list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years.

US State Department Now Requires Visa Applicants to Provide Social Media Information

Applicants have the option of stating they do not use social media. However, failure to provide accurate and truthful responses in a visa application may result in denial of the visa by a consular officer. An individual’s social media footprint will provide consular officers with a snapshot of contacts, associations, habits, and preferences. Consular officers will likely look for inconsistencies and possible security concerns on a broad range of issues.

This action amplifies the measures outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its September 2017 proposal calling for the review of social media records by all immigrants. This marks a significant shift from prior policy under the Obama Administration, which asked visa applicants to submit social media records on a voluntary basis.  

In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants are now asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel, and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities. 

Under the new policy, both temporary visitors and those seeking permanent residence are required to fill out the new forms. Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types will be exempted from this requirement. 

Please consult your GT attorney for additional information and check back here for updates.

For more on social media and immigration policy, click here.

USCIS Names Acting Director as Director Cissna Exits After Posting Metrics Report

Posted in USCIS

USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans has been appointed acting director following L. Francis Cissna’s departure. Mr. Koumans has experience in Custom Border Protection and the U.S. Foreign Service.

Prior to his exit from USCIS, former Director L. Francis Cissna released a report highlighting agency programs, workload and accomplishments, in which he states the following:

The 2018 USCIS Statistical Annual Report represents a key piece in our continued commitment to provide improved awareness of the nature and scope of work accomplished by the dedicated men and women of USCIS. … Following a long absence, we are again publishing an annual report, emphasizing our promise of full transparency and accountability to the American people.

In the last fiscal year, USCIS adjudicated more than eight million requests for immigration benefits, which is a 28 percent increase over the last five fiscal years. … USCIS also helped make the American dream become a reality for 757,000 new citizens, a five year high in new oaths of citizenship. The annual report also showcases the work our agency does to protect the integrity of our nation’s immigration through fraud detection, national security vetting, and administering E-Verify, a web-based system used to protect jobs for legal workers. We are proud of the good work accomplished by our dedicated staff to fairly and efficiently administer our nation’s legal immigration system, protect the homeland, and honor our values.

Please check back, as more information on this and other matters will be provided as events warrant.

For more on USCIS, click here.

McDonald’s in Austria to Assist Americans Abroad

Posted in Travel, U.S. Consulates

On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Vienna announced a partnership with McDonald’s in Austria to help U.S. citizens in need.

The post states that American citizens traveling in Austria who are in distress may enter any McDonald’s in Austria and receive assistance from staff to contact the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Embassy itself will still be responsible for consular services, such as reporting a lost or stolen passport. One of the first reported instances of assistance was Diane Schmallegger of Las Vegas, who lost her passport in Vienna and walked into a nearby McDonald’s for assistance.

According to McDonald’s, U.S. Ambassador Trevor Traina requested the company provide this new service. There are 194 McDonald’s in Austria, thereby expanding the number of avenues available for Americans in Austria to reach the U.S. Embassy. Note, the McDonald’s in Austria are still in Austrian territory; therefore, a U.S. citizen in a McDonald’s in Austria is still subject to Austrian legal jurisdiction. In other words, don’t commit a crime in Austria and expect to flee into a nearby McDonald’s.

For more embassy news, click here.