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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.

 

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program – Investor Must be Actively Engaged in the Management of the New Commercial Enterprise

November 2nd, 2013 No comments
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Under the federal regulations governing the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the immigrant investor must be actively engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise, either through the exercise of day-to-day managerial responsibility or policy formation. The immigrant investor cannot maintain a purely passive role under 8 CFR 204.6(j)(5).

The immigrant investor should provide USCIS with a statement explaining the position the investor will hold. This should include the position title and a detailed description of the position’s duties. Alternatively, the EB-5 applicant can be a corporate officer or member of the board of directors.

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If the new commercial investment is a partnership, either limited or general, the immigrant investor should provide evidence that s/he will be engaged in either direct management or policy making activities.

If the applicant is a limited partner, the limited partnership agreement should grant the immigrant investor with certain rights, powers, and duties normally granted to limited partners under the Uniform Limited Partnership Act. In such cases, the immigrant investor will be considered sufficiently engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise.

Active management is not as much of an issue with EB-5 Regional Center cases as the investor’s capital is pooled with other investors for larger projects. Each investor has limited input on how the capital is used and the project is run. The EB-5 program is a complicated area of immigration law and includes many detailed requirements.

If you are considering the EB-5 program, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation in our Irvine office. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process and whether the EB-5 program is right for you.

For more information on proving source of funds for EB-5 investors . . .

Republican Lobbying Groups Push For Immigration Reform

October 29th, 2013 No comments
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Republicans who back immigration reform are ramping up their push to get the House to bring legislation to the floor, as the issue threatens to potentially create a public divide within the GOP.

The Wall Street Journal reports the group Republicans for Immigration Reform is building up its lobbying efforts in Washington, releasing a web ad last week urging the House to act that has been viewed over 600,000 times, according to the group.

This week, the New York Times reports a coalition of about 600 mostly Republican leaders in business and agriculture will begin an effort to lobby 80 GOP representatives on the issue. Some GOP donors are also reportedly privately withholding their contributions from members of Congress who oppose action of immigration reform.

The issue has the potential to divide GOP lawmakers again after public in-party fighting over the recent budget negotiations.

The New York Times reports that while some House members and House Speaker John Boehner are pushing for the lower chamber of Congress to pass its own immigration legislation before the end of the year; some conservative lawmakers have said they will not act on the issue regardless of pressure.

“I care about the sovereignty of the United States of America and what it stands for, and not an open-door policy,” Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who is opposing all of the bills the House is currently considering, told the New York Times.

However, both President Obama and Boehner expressed optimism last week that the House could pass immigration legislation.

Invest New Hampshire Regional Center Enters the EB-5 Field

October 28th, 2013 No comments
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Northern New England’s immigrant investment playing field just became more crowded. A new EB-5 regional center, based in Campton, N.H., was approved Monday by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Invest New Hampshire Regional Center aims to raise $10.5 million in $500,000 increments from 21 investors. The money will fund expansions at the Owl’s Nest Resort and Golf Club in the White Mountains, according to USCIS documentation published on its website.

The center’s manager, Kelly Wieser, is the daughter of Owl’s Nest developer and regional center principal Thomas Mullen. A January report in New Hampshire Business Review quoted Mullen as saying the group plans to expand their EB-5 investment portfolio beyond Owl’s Nest. Representatives from Invest New Hampshire could not be reached before publication time for this article.

Invest New Hampshire is the fourth such regional center approved to operate in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire EB-5 Regional Center was created to raise $35 million to turn Ragged Mountain Resort into a four-season destination, much like plans for the EB-5-funded Jay Peak and Burke Mountain expansions in Vermont.

“You’ve heard of the term, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?” Bill Stenger said. “This applies.”

The Jay Peak co-owner is the public face of a combined $425 million set of EB-5 projects promising thousands of jobs in the Northeast Kingdom. In addition to Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, Stenger and his business partner, Ariel Quiros, are working to bring a Korean biotech firm to Newport and develop a city block and waterfront lot in the town.

For more information on the EB-5 program in general, click here.

If you are considering the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process and whether the EB-5 program is a viable option for you.

The contents and information provided in this post should in no way be considered an endorsement or recommendation by The Nunez Firm, P.C. in favor of the investment opportunities or regional centers mentioned herein. The contents are strictly for informational purposes. As with any investment, investors considering the EB-5 program should consult a financial advisor and perform the necessary due diligence.

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