DHS Completes Public Charge Rule; Forwards to OMB

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, OMB, Public Charge Rule

On July 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) completed review and forwarded a final rule on a Public Charge rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

This action follows action last week as reported here wherein the Department of Justice completed review and forwarded aspects of a Public Charge final rule within its jurisdiction to OMB.

AGENCY: DHS-USCIS RIN: 1615-AA22 Status: Pending Review
TITLE: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds
STAGE: Final Rule ECONOMICALLY SIGNIFICANT: Yes
** RECEIVED DATE: 07/12/2019 LEGAL DEADLINE: None

For complete reporting on the Public Charge rule please see here.

Please consult your GT attorney with specific questions and check back as this matter will be updated as information becomes available.

For more on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), click here.

Significant Retrogression – August 2019 Visa Bulletin Update

Posted in China, EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, Visa Bulletin, Visas

The Department of State (DOS) August 2019 Visa Bulleting shows significant retrogression in employment-based (EB) categories.

In the EB-1 category, final action dates retrogress to July 1, 2016, for all countries of chargeability except for India. The cutoff date for India’s EB-1 category remains at Jan. 1, 2015. The EB-2 category retrogresses to July 1, 2016 for all countries except China, advancing to Jan. 1, 2017, and India, advancing to May 2, 2009.

EB-3 categories for all other countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, and Vietnam also retrogress to July 1, 2016. India retrogresses to Jan. 1, 2006, while China advances to July 1, 2016. Similarly, for the EB-3: Other Workers category, most countries retrogress to July 1, 2016; India retrogresses to Jan. 1, 2006, and China’s remains the same at Nov. 22, 2007.

The EB-4 category cutoff dates remain the same at July 1, 2016 for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, with the rest of the countries remaining current.

In the EB-5 category, most countries remain current. India and Vietnam’s cutoff dates retrogress to Oct. 15, 2014. China advances to the same cutoff date of Oct. 15, 2014.

The Visa Bulletin indicates that the implementation of the above-mentioned dates is expected to be temporary and that every effort will be made to return the Final Action dates to the same as those in the July Visa Bulletin in October 2019, the first month of fiscal year 2020.

Referring to the Final Action Dates, following are updates for the August 2019 Visa Bulletin:

Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases

Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications

For more Visa Bulletins, click here.

DOJ forwards public charge rule to OMB

Posted in OMB

On July 3rd, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted receipt of a “public charge” rule from the Department of Justice (DOJ)-

AGENCY: DOJ-EOIR RIN: 1125-AA84 Status: Pending Review
TITLE: Inadmissibility and Deportability on Public Charge Grounds
STAGE: Proposed Rule ECONOMICALLY SIGNIFICANT: No
RECEIVED DATE: 07/03/2019 LEGAL DEADLINE: None

While the text of the rule is not public, it is expected to be a companion rule similar to a Department of Homeland Security rule published for public comment in October 2018.

It is believed that the strict adherence to the public charge rule could greatly expand persons who could be deported for using public benefits, such as public welfare, food stamps or other social services without an ability to pay themselves or by their sponsors.

Current law allows deportation of immigrants that receive government social benefits within five years of U.S. arrival but the government has not made great use of the deportation method in recent years.

For more on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), click here.

House Passes Per-country Cap Elimination Bill that Affects Employment-based Visa Programs

Posted in Immigrant Visa

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1044, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, that eliminates per-country quotas for all employment-based immigrant visa petitions by a wide, bipartisan vote of 365-65.

The bill includes language helpful to the EB-5 program relating to a transition period for implementation, as explained –

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.

The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

A companion bill, S. 386 (Sen. Lee, R-UT) was being discussed for Senate floor consideration last month.  The bill drew H-1B compliance provisions that slowed momentum and interested Senators continue negotiations.

Please contact your GT attorney for specific questions.  We will update this matter as information becomes available.

For more on Employment Visas, click here.

United States Recognizes Venezuelan National Assembly Decree Extending Validity of Venezuelan Passports

Posted in U.S. Department of State (DOS), Venezuela

The Venezuelan opposition-controlled National Assembly recently acknowledged the significant obstacles for Venezuelans in extending or obtaining new passports, and issued a decree extending the validity of already issued Venezuelan passports for five years.

The U.S. Department of State announced on June 7 it will recognize the decree and accept Venezuelan passports accordingly. This is positive news for Venezuelans applying for U.S. visas and seeking entry into the United States, as their passports will now be considered valid for an additional five years beyond the printed date of expiration.

Other countries have also endorsed this mandate by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the United States and over 50 other nations consider Venezuela’s legitimate president. Venezuelan passport holders should continue to monitor this situation regarding any upcoming international travel and consult destination countries’ policies on the matter.

For more on Venezuela, click here.

USCIS International Offices to No Longer Accept Form I-407 Starting July 1, 2019

Posted in Form I-407, USCIS, Visas

Starting July 1, 2019, international offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence Status. On that date and going forward, all I-407 forms must be sent by mail to the address below. USCIS anticipates that processing of the form, from receipt to completion, will take 60 days or less, not including the mailing time to and from outside the United States (and please note that given the below address is a post office box, these notices cannot be sent via courier services like FedEx and UPS).

USCIS Eastern Forms Center
Attn: I-407 Unit
124 Leroy Road
PO Box 567
Williston, VT 05495

For various reasons, foreign nationals who have obtained Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) status in the United States sometimes choose to voluntarily abandon their LPR status. When these individuals choose to live in another country and maintain residency there, it is a best practice to submit a Form I-407 so that a record of their abandonment of LPR status is filed with USCIS. Once the I-407 form has been accepted and the abandonment is recorded and acknowledged by USCIS, the former LPR-status individual no longer has to be concerned about certain tax requirements to file as a U.S. resident, and he also need not be concerned about maintaining residency in the U.S.

As EB-5 investors are aware, maintenance of their residency is of vital importance. After obtaining Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) status, the investor must continue to maintain residency in the U.S. or else risk possible deportation or inadmissibility, as discussed in a prior blog post. EB-5 investors and dependent family members should maintain as many ties to the U.S. as possible, and when taking longer trips outside of the U.S., they should apply for and obtain reentry permits and consider carrying evidence of their U.S. ties with them when they return to the U.S. Without the maintenance of residency, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer could find the investor inadmissible for having abandoned residency, and that individual may face an uphill battle when applying to remove the conditions on the green card (filing of the I-829) or when ultimately applying for naturalization by filing the N-400 form (see our blog post here on the residency requirements for maintaining LPR status and for applying for naturalization).

Once abandonment of LPR status occurs, the foreign national no longer need worry about maintaining a residence in the U.S., filing and paying income taxes as a resident, and demonstrating ties to the U.S. to maintain LPR status. Of course, once LPR status has been abandoned, the foreign national may have to apply for entry visas for short trips to the U.S. We note that if someday the foreign national wishes to apply for a new green card, the voluntary abandonment will not be held against him.

The I-407 filing address change discussed above is in keeping with the March 2019 announcement by then-USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna that USCIS intends to shut down all international USCIS offices and shift all duties of these international offices to domestic USCIS offices and U.S. Department of State embassies and consulates. This announcement was confirmed by USCIS this week at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference.

For more on USCIS, click here.

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 uscis.gov/AffidavitofSupport.

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.

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