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President Obama Responds to Immigration Reform Heckler in California

November 26th, 2013 No comments
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During a speech on immigration reform in San Francisco, President Obama was heckled by a young man calling for the President to stop deportations. The President, whose security initially attempted to remove the young man, responded to the young man’s pleas by saying that he cannot pass immigration reform on his own. He explained that Congress has to take part in the process in order to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

See here for the youtube clip.

Obama urged House Republicans to take up the Senate’s compromise immigration bill, saying that progress on this front is being held up by a faction of the Republican Party. He also reiterated his support for a piecemeal approach in the House if that is what it would take to pass a package of reforms.

But Obama also said, “Just because something is smart, fair, good for the economy and supported by business, labor, law enforcement and faith leaders, Democratic and Republican governors, including the governor of this state — just because all that is in place doesn’t mean we’ll actually get it done because this is Washington, after all, that we’re talking about, and everything’s looked at through a political prism.”

CEO of CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr.) Calls for Immigration Reform

November 20th, 2013 No comments
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In California’s southern border region, immigration reform is a hotly debated topic. Now that Congress is debating the issue, the crescendo is reaching new heights. Clearly, it’s time to modernize our immigration system so we can effectively compete in a global economy. After all, strengthening America’s competitive advantage should be an overriding concern for those who serve us in office.

As CEO of CKE Restaurants, I have firsthand knowledge of the vital role immigrants play in growing U.S. businesses, spurring innovation and creating jobs. Our broken immigration system hurts individual businesses, like ours, that create jobs and thrive on economic growth. While each side in this debate has legitimate points and sincerely held beliefs, my hope is that inaction, fear mongering and political posturing will give way to rational compromise.

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Two widely respected Southern California Congressmen, Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter, are key voices on immigration reform proposals. I’m confident they will guide immigration reform to a successful resolution.

Congressman Issa points to several substantive changes needed to improve current immigration laws. He supports stronger border security and the E-Verify program that helps employers verify the immigration status of potential employees. He also supports new programs such as the obviously sensible proposal to increase visas for high-skilled workers. That kind of practical thinking will better enable our nation to meet its workforce needs, stay competitive and create jobs for millions of Americans.

Likewise, Congressman Hunter supports stricter border control and co-sponsored a bill to implement the E-Verify program.

In California, the economic benefits of Congress passing comprehensive immigration reform are immense. A little more than a decade ago, the Golden State was the world’s fifth-largest economy. Today, we’ve declined to eighth-largest.

Zuckerberg and Other Silicon Valley Veterans Plan Hackathon to Promote Immigration Reform and Dream Act

November 20th, 2013 No comments
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SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is bringing young undocumented immigrants with engineering chops to Silicon Valley to “hack” immigration reform.

Twenty young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children are taking part in a “DREAMer Hackathon” on Wednesday at LinkedIn’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

The young coders will break into small groups to build technology during the marathon programming session to push Congress to pass immigration reform. Technology veterans including Zuckerberg, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston will be on hand to advise them, and Fwd.us, Zuckerberg’s lobbying group, has pledged to get the projects up and running.

Zuckerberg organized his first hackathon in his Harvard dorm room, and Facebook employees routinely pull all-nighters to build new products and features. Now Fwd.us is borrowing the concept to press for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration policies.

Among the young immigrants who will code for 24 hours straight is 24-year-old Justino Mora from Los Angeles.

Mora’s group plans to build a mobile app that will tell people who their representatives are in Washington, where those representatives stand on immigration reform and ways in which people can take action, either by signing a petition or sending a message to their representatives.

Mora said he is excited to meet Zuckerberg and the other technology leaders.

“They have an amazing record in the tech sector. They know what works,” he said. “We have a different type of experience. We come from communities that are dealing with a broken immigration system. The combination will come up with very powerful tools that are going to change the discussion on immigration.”

Orange County Residents Call For Immigration Reform By Fasting in Brea

November 19th, 2013 No comments
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Southern California’s immigration reform movement has been centered largely in Los Angeles, but this week a Brea shopping center has become a hub of protest.

Pro-immigration reform advocates from Orange and Los Angeles counties are fasting outside an Ann Taylor Loft and camping overnight in tents. Organizers of the fast say Orange County has less of a political culture, and immigration reform could use the extra attention there.

“I think LA has been a more immigrant-heavy city for a longer time,” said Dayne Lee of the LA-based Korean Resource Center, whose members are fasting, along with labor and church groups. “Orange County- these demographic changes are a little bit newer.”

Orange County is estimated to have nearly 300,000 residents who entered the US illegally.  More than 1,000 of those residents are Koreans, Lee said – and those are just the ones who’ve had contact with his organization.

“They don’t talk about it at school,” Lee said. “They don’t talk about it at church, and there’s no political forum there where they can express these thoughts. So that’s why we’re trying to force the conversation.”

Activists, who are taking part in a national fasting event,  are also trying to pressure Orange County Republican Congress members into taking stronger stands for immigration reform – in particular, Reps. John Campbell, R-Irvine and Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, whose Orange County office sits in the same Brea shopping center where activists have gathered to protest before.

Royce, who is in DC, issued this statement Monday in responses to the fast.

“There is no question that we must fix our broken immigration system. That means implementing faster documentation processes and workable employer verification as well as effectively securing our border. Only then can we talk about a pathway to an earned legal status for adults. However, I also believe that we should not punish children who did not choose to be brought here for their parents’ decision to illegally cross the border.”

This falls short of the activists’ demands of the congressman.  They are calling on him to sign a pledge card to advance immigration reform.

Senate Bill 744 – EB-6 Visa

November 16th, 2013 No comments
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Senate Bill 744 would create a few new investor visa options, such as the X visa and EB-6 visa, if the bill were to pass and become law. Under the current immigration system, immigrant investors can pursue either an E-2 non-immigrant investor visa or an EB-5 immigrant investor green card. E-2 visas are temporary visas and are only available to citizens of certain countries. The EB-5 program is available to any foreign national, but the requirements are substantial and the visa is primarily used by investors rather than entrepreneurs.

The EB-6 immigrant investor option is concerned more with entrepreneurs than with investors in regional centers like the EB-5 program. 10,000 visas will be available annually.

Under the EB-6 program, an investor can receive a green card if he has resided in the US in valid non-immigrant status during the prior two years. He must show he has a significant ownership interest in a US business that has created five jobs over the last three years. The business must have received at least $500,000 in investments or venture capital, or, alternatively, has generated at least $750,000 in annual revenue.

If the alien has an advanced STEM degree, the job creation and investment amounts are relaxed.  The alien must still prove significant ownership in a US business, but the job creation requirement is lowered to four jobs in the last three years. Alternatively, the business can have created three jobs if the annual revenue is $500,000 or more.

There is a limit of four EB-6 green cards that can generate from one business. For a broad overview of other changes brought about by Senate Bill 744, click here.

For more information on current immigrant investor options and whether they are right for you, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation.

USCIS Announces Benefits for Filipino Nationals Affected by Typhoon Haiyan

November 15th, 2013 No comments
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In light of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (named “Yolanda” by Philippine authorities), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would like to remind Filipino nationals that they may be eligible for certain immigration relief measures if requested.

USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status in the United States. Therefore, Filipino nationals impacted by Typhoon Haiyan may be eligible to benefit from the following immigration relief measures:

– Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
– Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
– Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
– Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
– Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
– Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
– Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

If you are a Filipino National and wish to learn more, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation.

EB-5 Regional Center Program, The Form I-924, and Hypothetical Projects Versus Actual Projects

November 14th, 2013 No comments
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When a regional center seeks approval from USCIS for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, it must file an I-924 with the agency. In deciding whether to approve the I-924 form USCIS will focus on several factors.

When a regional center files the I-924 form with USCIS, the applicant regional center may include either hypothetical projects or actual projects in their business plan and projections. An actual project refers to a specific project proposal that is supported by a Matter of Ho compliant business plan. A hypothetical project refers to a project proposal that is not supported by a Matter of Ho compliant business plan.

If the Form I-924 projects are hypothetical projects, general proposals and general predictions may be sufficient to determine that the proposed regional center will more likely than not promote economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. Determinations based on hypothetical projects, however, do not receive deference from USCIS for later I-526 filings. When the form I-526 is filed, USCIS will perform a de novo review of the actual projects in which the investment is being made. Clearly, immigrant investors will prefer to invest in projects that have already been reviewed by USCIS and received a deference-based approval.

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Organizational and transactional documents provided to USCIS with the I-924 hypothetical project will not be reviewed to determine compliance with EB-5 program requirements because these documents will receive de novo review in subsequent filings. USCIS does not want to waste it’s time in thoroughly analyzing hypothetical projects if they are merely hypothetical. If the applicant regional center wants USCIS to review organizational and transactional documents for EB-5 program compliance, a Form I-924 application with a Form I-526 exemplar should be submitted. An exemplar refers to a sample Form I-526 petition, filed with a Form I-924 actual project proposal, that contains copies of the commercial enterprise’s documents, which USCIS will review to determine if they are in compliance with established EB-5 eligibility requirements.

Form I-924 cases based on actual projects require more details than a hypothetical project filing because USCIS will determine whether the proposal contains verifiable details and is supported by economically or statistically sound forecasting tools. Determinations based on actual projects, however, will be accorded deference to subsequent filings under the project involving the same material facts and issues.

In some cases, regional centers will file an I-924 with a hypothetical project initially. Later, once the actual project details are available, the regional center might file an amended I-924 with an exemplar I-526 in order to obtain a favorable determination from USCIS  which will be accorded deference in subsequent I-526 filings.

For more information on EB-5 scams and common misconceptions about the EB-5 program, click here.

Senate Bill 744 – The X Visa

November 13th, 2013 No comments
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Senate Bill 744 is over 1200 pages, and it’s not a poolside read. The bill reforms almost every aspect of our current immigration system in one way or another. For more information and an overview of the major changes, click here.

Senate Bill 744 creates several new visa categories including the W visa, X visa and EB-6 visa. Although these visas are not yet available, it’s important to understand what new immigration options might become available in the future should comprehensive immigration reform become law.

Section 4801 of Senate Bill 744 creates a new non-immigrant investment category called the X visa. Unlike the E-1 and E-2 visa, the X visa does not require a treaty between the US and the alien investor’s home country. Under the E-1 and E-2 system, Chinese and Indian nationals were ineligible because their home countries do not have treaties with the US. An X visa applicant would be eligible to receive temporary permission to live in the US if she can prove that during the prior three years she has invested $100,000 minimum in a US business. If the investment is less than $100,000, the X visa applicant may still be eligible if she can prove that she has created no fewer than three jobs and annual revenue is at least $250,000.

X visa holders would be eligible for three year renewals as well. The renewal will be approved if the X visa holder can prove that during the prior three year X visa period, the alien investor has invested $250,000 in the business. If the alien has not invested $250,000 in the business during the last three years, the X visa can be renewed if the business has created three jobs and generated at least $250,000 in annual revenue.

A one year renewal is available for the X visa holder if during the last two years in X status, the business has created three jobs and $200,000 in revenue per year. USCIS can waive the renewal requirements under certain circumstances.

It’s important to note that unlike the EB-5 immigrant investor option, the investor does not receive a green card. The X visa is only a temporary visa.

Head of American Bankers Association Calls For Republicans to Support Immigration Reform

November 11th, 2013 No comments
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WASHINGTON — The head of the American Bankers Assn., who is a former GOP governor, made a strong pitch Monday to his fellow Republicans to support  the bipartisan Senate immigration reform legislation by invoking party hero Ronald Reagan.

Frank Keating, president of the group since 2011, said in a Times opinion article that Reagan would say “it’s time to open the doors” to immigrants to boost the economy.

Conservatives were wrong to oppose the Senate legislation, supported by President Obama, that would overhaul the system and provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country without legal status,” Keating said.

“Unfortunately, too many conservatives — though they aspire to walk in Reagan’s footsteps — have forgotten that immigration reform is the most Republican of causes,” wrote Keating, a self-described Reagan Republican who served as governor of Oklahoma from 1994-2002.

“We cannot support open borders for trade but not for people,” he said in the article, titled “What Would Reagan Do?”

“We cannot make America stronger and more prosperous by excluding tomorrow’s talent and industry.”

Keating, an influential voice in the financial services industry in Washington, joins the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups in trying to push House Republican leaders to take up the immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate in June.

Many House Republicans oppose the comprehensive Senate bill, which includes a controversial  13-year path to citizenship for qualified immigrants.

Geographic Boundaries of an EB-5 Regional Center and Requirements for USCIS Approval of an I-924

November 7th, 2013 No comments
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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created with the goal of generating greater economic growth. Regional centers should help grow the economy of the geographic area in which they are located. The regional center model within the EB-5 program offers an immigrant investor already-defined investment opportunities. It reduces the immigrant investor’s responsibility in identifying acceptable investment vehicles.

Under 8 CFR 204.6(e), a regional center “means any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.” Some regional centers contain one or more new commercial enterprises.

A regional center seeking approval from USCIS must file an I-924 form with USCIS. The I-924 must clearly describe how the regional center focuses on a geographical region of the United States, and how it will promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. USCIS will require that the applying regional center provide verifiable detail regarding how jobs will be created either directly or indirectly. Regional centers applying to USCIS for EB-5 involvement must provide detailed statements regarding the amount and source of capital which has been committed to the regional center, as well as a description of the promotional efforts taken and planned by the sponsors of the regional center.

Applying regional centers should provide USCIS with a detailed prediction regarding how the regional center will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy in general. USCIS will focus on factors such as increased household earnings, greater demand for business services, utilities, maintenance and repair, and construction both within and without the regional center. The regional center must convince USCIS that the plans and predictions for the regional center are supported by economically and statistically sound forecasting tools that are valid, including , but not limited to, feasibility studies, analyses of foreign and domestic markets for the goods or services to be exported, and/or multiplier tables.

USCIS will review the proposed geographic boundaries of a new regional center and will decide whether they are acceptable. The applicant regional center must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed economic activity will promote economic growth in the proposed area. This question can be very fact-specific and the law and regulations do not require any particular form of evidentiary showing. The reasonableness of the proposed geographical boundaries may be demonstrated through evidence that the proposed area is contributing significantly to the supply chain, as well as the labor pool, of the proposed projects.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an excellent way for foreign investors to relocate to the United States. Investors have different motivations for wanting to pursue the EB-5 program including having their children raised in the US, retirement, or starting a new business in the U.S. Before starting the process with USCIS, it’s important to have a full understanding of the pros and cons with each immigrant investment option – EB-5, EB-5 regional center, or E-2 visa. There are many misconceptions about the EB-5 program. Contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to better understand your goals and objectives and help you discover which option is best suited to you.

For more information on EB-5 source of funds, click here.

 

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