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    Published on 06-17-2016 10:51 AM

    July 2016 Visa Bulletin Update: China EB-5 Visa Numbers Grind to a Halt – The Waiting Line Gets Longer



    The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) just released the July 2016 Visa Bulletin, and the China EB-5 cut-off date remains frozen at February 15, 2014.  While the numbers have never retrogressed (meaning gone backwards), the slow crawl has come to a halt.  Below are five observations on the July 2016 Visa Bulletin:

    1. For the first time since August 2015, the priority date for EB-5 visas did not move forward. Instead, as indicated in the June 2015 Visa Bulletin, visa numbers have only been authorized for those Chinese EB-5 investors whose approved Form I-526 was filed prior to February 15, 2014, as indicated by Chart A – Application Final Action Dates, now creating a 28.54 month wait.  How will this affect children who may potentially “age out” due to the EB-5 Chinese waiting line? 
    2. Below is a chart showing the length of the waiting time for Chinese EB-5 investors with approved Form I-526 petitions. It shows how the waiting line has increased in the past 14 months.
    3. The July 2016 Visa Bulletin further indicates as follows: “China: Best case scenario is March 1 by September.  Slow forward movement for October and beyond.”  This means that in August and September 2016, we can at best expect to see a total of two week’s movement, potentially creating a 30 month wait before the new quota becomes available.  It won’t take long before the waiting line stretches to 3 years and longer, although hopefully Congress will consider some relief measures when considering new legislation to extend the Sunset date beyond September 30, 2016.  July through September 2016 is the final quarter of the Fiscal Year 2016, where visa number movement traditionally slows down so as to ensure immigrant visa usage does not exceed the annual quota limitation.
    4. Why the slow movement? In April 2016, Deputy IPO Chief Julia Harrison indicated that USCIS “found” about 2,000 Form I-526 petitions filed in 2012/13 that were “misplaced” when the processing unit moved from California to Washington, D.C.  Since all of these cases have early priority dates, they will automatically leap ahead of the other cases at the National Visa Center waiting to be scheduled.  If only 1,500 of these 2,000 petitions are approved, that is almost half of the annual quota, so expect continued slow movement for the next few months
    5. This will not impact any other nationals, only persons born in China who cannot be charged to another quota, such as persons married to spouses born in Hoping Kong or Taiwan, which have separate quotas. Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Director of Immigrant Visa Control for DOS, explained that they are “still getting lots of prior to cut-off date [February 15, 2014] China demand which prevented any July movement.”

    Nevertheless, reports coming from Washington, DC are that IIUSA had a very successful leadership conference and all the critical U.S. entities, such as IIUSA and AILA, are working together to present a common platform.  While success may not be possible this year with the election, there is reason to be optimistic that with over $10 Billion of foreign investment at stake among only pending petitions, the U.S. Congress will be proactive in admitting the few thousand investors that create jobs and being capital to the U.S.

    This post is designed to provide practical and useful information on the subject matter covered.  However, it is provided with the understanding that no legal, tax, accounting, or other professional services are being rendered or provided.  If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

    This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group. Copyright © 2016 Wolfsdorf Connect - All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (www.wolfsdorf.com), and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes ...

    Published on 06-16-2016 04:05 PM

    Breaking: 11th Circuit Deepens Circuit Split on Prolonged Detention Bond Hearings


    June 15, 2016

    Today, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued Sopo v. US Attorney General, No. 14-11421 (11th Cir. June 15, 2016), a case addressing the constitutional limits of the mandatory detention statute.  In a lengthy decision, it joined a number of other circuits holding that the mandatory detention of noncitizens with certain prior convictions under 8 USC sec. 1226(c)  is only constitutional for a "reasonable period of time," and that "at some point" those individuals "become entitled to an individualized bond hearing."  (Slip Op. at 3).  The Eleventh Circuit's decision deepened a circuit split on when and how such bond hearings should take place.  The Second and Ninth Circuit have adopted a bright-line rule, in which detention becomes presumptively unreasonable after six months, at which point the government provides an ...

    Published on 06-16-2016 01:17 PM

    Do not Be Afraid to Take a Difficult Case


    Published on 06-16-2016 11:56 AM

    Form I-924A: Practical Considerations for EB-5 Regional Centers


    Published on 06-15-2016 11:43 AM

    Can a STEM OPT Student Be Employed At A Third Party Client Site?


    The most frequently asked question in response to my recent blog entitled, “A Closer Look At The Form I-983 – Training Plan for STEM OPT Students”,  is whether a STEM OPT student can be employed at a third party client site or at multiple client sites. I would argue that the answer to this question ought to be YES! Since the new rule only took effect on May 10, 2016, there isn’t yet any strong anecdotal evidence on whether Designated Student Officers (DSO) will approve Forms I-983 which set forth training to take place at client sites. However, there isn’t anything in the governing regulations that expressly forbids this type of employment.

    This is a big issue for many students and employers because under the standard 12-month OPT program, the employer may employ the student in a regular job, even at third party sites, ...

    Published on 06-15-2016 11:02 AM

    What is Donald Trump really saying about immigration reform?


    Published on 06-14-2016 01:14 PM

    Colorado Repeals Duplicative Employment Verification Requirement


    It’s not often that HR and hiring managers receive good news when it comes to changes in I-9 and E-Verify practice. As most employers are painfully aware, federal and state requirements relating to I-9 and immigration rules are generally becoming more complex every year – caught up in a web of often-conflicting rules regarding the proper procedure for verifying a new hire’s eligibility to work in the United States.


    But every so often, a rule changes. A regulation expires. Or if you’re really lucky, a state legislature listens to the employer community and decides to reduce the paperwork burden.

    And that’s exactly what happened in the state of Colorado last week when Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 16-1114 into law, effectively repealing Colorado’s employment verification requirement. Under the new law which goes into effect on August 10, 2016, Colorado employers will no longer need ...

    Published on 06-14-2016 01:05 PM

    EB-5 Spring Cleaning Continues


    The SEC has continued its flurry of EB-5 activity with its announcement today of fines and a cease and desist order against American Life and its President, Henry Liebman. At the heart of the SEC’s order against American Life and Liebman, “certain EB-5 Agents were paid transaction-based compensation for the activities which effectuated the investor’s transactions in EB-5 securities…. As a result of the conduct described above, certain EB-5 Agents violated Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act.” You can find the full order at this link on the ILW.com site: http://discuss.ilw.com/content.php?6...tion-Attorneys ...
    Published on 06-14-2016 11:32 AM

    E-2 and L-1A Visas - Elements of Business Plan


    Often E-2 and L-1A visa applicants (especially those who decide to write the business plan themselves) are unsure what their business plan should consist from, and to which sections of the business plan they should pay particular attention.

    In order to provide a graphic representation of the typical elements of E-2 and L-1A Business Plans, as well as to provide few important notes/pointers, Faveo Paralegals have created the attached (2 PDF files) E-2 and L-1A Business Plan Elements charts.

    Should you, upon review, find them helpful in your practice, please feel free to use them for your clients.

    Published on 06-13-2016 11:53 AM

    Options for EB-5 Investors When Form I-526 Petitions Are Pending Too Long


    At a recent IIUSA meeting in April 2016 in Washington D.C., the USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office Deputy Director Julia Harrison indicated that USCIS “found” and are working diligently on adjudicating approximately 2,000 Form I-526 petitions filed in 2012 and 2013.  The latest published information from USCIS indicates that it takes an average of 16.2 months for USCIS to adjudicate a Form I-526.  On a positive side, USCIS has continued to hire more adjudicators in an effort to reduce the backlog of EB-5 applications.  Yet, immigrant investors are increasingly frustrated with long delays.

    Below are sixteen (16) tips immigrant investors can use which can speed up the first step of the EB-5 process.

    1. Check the status of the Form I-526 online using the Receipt Number printed on the I-979 Receipt Notice.
    2. If the Form I-526 has been pending for longer than the average processing time published by USCIS, send an inquiry to ImmigrantInvestorProgram@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS will generally respond within fourteen calendar days, but, unfortunately, it appears that most responses are boilerplate.  Though, from time from time, USCIS indicates that “the file is currently with an officer,” which ordinarily means that decision may be forthcoming in a month or so.
    3. USCIS has created a follow-up procedure which requires the use of the word “ESCALATE” ...
    Published on 06-13-2016 11:42 AM



    This is the month that we have all been waiting for, the time for the Supreme Court to decide on the legality of the DAPA and expanded DACA programs (United States v. Texas, Docket #15-674). With 8 justices only as the Republicans refuse to make a move forward with the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, the President’s choice, the vote could go 4-4, which would mean that the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Texas District Court Judge Andrew ...

    Published on 06-10-2016 12:44 PM

    The Ever-Changing Demographics of America


    If there’s one constant throughout human history, it’s that everything changes. New scientific discoveries are made and new technologies are invented. New nations are born from the ashes of warfare or revolution. And people move from place to place in search of better lives for themselves and their descendants. In a society like the United States, migration continually shapes and reshapes the demographic composition of the population—a process that is often resisted by those whose ancestors came here long ago.

    For instance, at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, immigrants were arriving en masse from southern and eastern Europe—much to the dismay of some Americans who were the descendants of the first immigrants from northwestern Europe. And now, with no small measure of irony, some of the descendants of European immigrants are decrying the arrival of so many immigrants from Latin America and Asia.

    That is exactly what the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) does in a May report devoted to enumerating an immigration “surge” in 2014 and 2015—which CIS acknowledges is, in part, a response to improved U.S. economic conditions. The report is devoted to slicing and dicing the numbers on this ...

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