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April 2016
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EB-5 Update – 80% of EB-5 Immigrant Visas Issued to Chinese Nationals

By: Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq., and Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

On Friday, April 22, Bernard Wolfsdorf, Managing Partner of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, spoke on a panel at the 9th Annual EB-5 Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by Invest in USA with Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division for the U.S. Department of State.

During the panel, Mr. Oppenheim released preliminary visa issuance data for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 – March 31, 2016) on EB-5 immigrant visas.

Ten Things I Learned from Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division within the U.S. Department of State during our IIUSA Panel on April 22, 2016

  1. Chinese nationals received 80.40% of the EB-5 immigrant visas issued in FY 2016 to date. This is down from 83.54% in FY 2015.
  2. South Korea is back in 2nd place with almost 3% (2.98%) of EB-5 visas pushing Vietnam into 3rd place (1.64%). Vietnam had 2.86% of all EB-5 immigrant visas in FY 2015.
  3. In 4th place is Taiwan with 1.63% and Venezuela comes back into top 5 with 1.03%. Venezuela was last in the top 5 in FY 2013.
  4. The I5 EB-5 category, that is $500,000 Regional Center – TEA cases continue to dominate the program constituting 95% of all EB-5 immigrant visas issued in the first 6 months of FY 2016, compared with 98.2% in FY 2015.
  5. The T5 EB-5 category, that is $500,000 Direct – TEA cases increased to 3.08% of all EB-5 immigrant visas issued in FY 2016 to date, compared with only 0.94% in FY 2015.
  6. The C5 EB-5 category, that is $1m Direct, non-TEA increased dramatically by 189% to 1.74% of all EB-5 immigrant visas issued in FY 2016 to date, compared with 0.6% in FY 2015.
    FY 2016 (6 months through to 3/31/16) $1m Direct, Non-TEA (C5) $500K Direct, TEA (T5) $500K Regional Center, TEA (I5) $1m Regional Center, Non-TEA (R5) Total
    China – Mainland born 59 124 4,011 0 4,194
    South Korea 0 6 149 0 155
    Vietnam 4 0 82 0 86
    China – Taiwan born 0 0 85 0 85
    Venezuela 0 1 53 0 54
    Total All Countries 91 161 4,965 0 5,217
  7. In FY 2015, 991 EB-5 Form I-485 Adjustment of Status applications were filed, whereas, in the first 6 months of FY 2016 alone, 731 I-485s were filed. Adjustments are on pace to increase by 47% from FY 2015. This is almost certainly because USCIS allowed EB-5 applicants to file Form I-485 applications based on Chart B – Date for Filing – listed in the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin for October and November 2015. USCIS can solve the China waiting line crisis by allowing persons with approved I-526 petitions to file adjustments based on Chart B.EAD
  8. The May 2016 Visa Bulletin EB-5 cutoff date for China moved forward again to February 8, 2014 (but only by 7 days from April 2016). The June 2016 Visa Bulletin EB-5 cutoff date for China is estimated to be at February 15. By the end of September 2016, the best case scenario is that the China EB-5 cutoff date will have advanced to March 8, 2014, however, China EB-5 movement could be very slow and only advance to February 22, 2014.B and C
  9. An EB-5 investor with a priority date of March 21, 2014 will likely be current for final interview scheduling on or about November 2016.
  10. An EB-5 investor with a priority date of October 15, 2014 may not be current for final interview scheduling until well after August 2017.

For more information, be sure to REGISTER HERE for Part 1 of our two-part Webinar Series:  EB-5 Hot Topics on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM PST and to REGISTER HERE for Part 2 on May 25, 2016 at 7:00PM PST. 

Ten Things to Know About Converting an O-1 Visa to a Green Card

By: Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

The O-1 Visa is available for foreign nationals who either (a) possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics or (b) who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry or extraordinary ability in the arts (and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those . . . → Read More: Ten Things to Know About Converting an O-1 Visa to a Green Card

The Chinese EB-5 Waiting Line Stretches to 26 Months (and Derivative Children Are Starting to Age-Out)

By: Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq.

This is the first of a three-part series on understanding the impact of the Chinese EB-5 waiting line on derivative children.  This blog only addresses issues relating to Chinese born nationals since only the China born or more accurately, persons chargeable to the China quota, are impacted.

Part 1 will describe the emerging issues,

Part . . . → Read More: The Chinese EB-5 Waiting Line Stretches to 26 Months (and Derivative Children Are Starting to Age-Out)

New Option for Guidance by USCIS through AAO Non-Precedent Decision Search Tool

By: Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

On April 4, 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the launch of search tool for most non-precedent decisions since 2005.  The AAO has jurisdiction over the appeals from decisions on most immigration petitions and applications that are entered by USCIS regional service centers . . . → Read More: New Option for Guidance by USCIS through AAO Non-Precedent Decision Search Tool

New Pilot Program Assists U.S. Employers to Sponsor Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

By: Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

On March 3, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced the launch of the Known Employer Pilot Program (“KEPP”), which modifies the process by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) reviews a U.S. employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa . . . → Read More: New Pilot Program Assists U.S. Employers to Sponsor Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas

Kristina Pimenova One of the Youngest O-1 Visa Holders Ever?

By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq.

Kristina Pimenova, age 10, is a supermodel in the making, and almost certainly the youngest person to obtain a United States’ O-1 work visa for extraordinary ability in modeling. With a modeling career that began at age 3 she is a veteran model. Kristina’s resume is studded with international modeling campaigns for industry . . . → Read More: Kristina Pimenova One of the Youngest O-1 Visa Holders Ever?

EB-5 Immigrant Investors and Employment Immigration is Good for America

By: Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Joseph Barnett, Esq.

While many pontificate about “illegal” immigrants and alien terrorists threatening our country, the facts show the overwhelming majority of immigrants are hardworking, honest, and dedicated people seeking to live the American Dream. They contribute to the economic welfare of the U.S. by creating millions of jobs.

On February 24, 2016, . . . → Read More: EB-5 Immigrant Investors and Employment Immigration is Good for America

Department of State Announces New NVC EB-5 Investor Assistance Desk

By: Robert J. Blanco, Esq.

Not to be outdone by the recent USCIS guidance regarding inquiries and increased processing times, the Department of State (“DOS”) has announced a new EB-5 Investor Assistance Desk with a dedicated email address specifically for EB-5 immigrant visa applicants.  DOS explains:

Customers with questions related to an approved I-526 petition will soon be . . . → Read More: Department of State Announces New NVC EB-5 Investor Assistance Desk

USCIS EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Office (“IPO”) Provides New Guidance for Inquiries to Address Increased Processing Times

By: Robert J. Blanco, Esq.

With USCIS recently announcing that average processing times for EB-5 cases have reached 16 months, adjudication times have been a primary focus for stakeholders.  Long adjudication times affect a number of issues relating to an investor’s family, travel plans, the release of investment funds from escrow, and job creation statistics, among others.  . . . → Read More: USCIS EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Office (“IPO”) Provides New Guidance for Inquiries to Address Increased Processing Times

EB-5 Practice Alert-December 29, 2015 is Last Day to RECEIVE Form I-924A

By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq.

Immigration regulations require regional centers to show every year that they continue to promote economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation or increased domestic capital investment in the approved geographic area.

To do so Form I-924A must be submitted to show a regional center’s continued eligibility for designation. The application must be filed within . . . → Read More: EB-5 Practice Alert-December 29, 2015 is Last Day to RECEIVE Form I-924A