Today, the U.S. Congress passed a one-week stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown and the expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center program. The continuing resolution will keep the U.S. federal government open through May 5, 2017, and USCIS will continue to accept Form I-526 petitions based on investments through EB-5 Regional Centers through that date.
It is unclear with Congress will be able to resolve the three major outstanding issues to reform the EB-5 Program by next week Friday.
Increase of minimum investment amount from $500,000 to either $800,000 or $850,000;
Defining “Targeted Employment Area” to limit incentives for investments in prime urban areas; and
When President Trump signed three immigration executive orders in January of this year, much of the attention was focused on the travel ban and border wall. But within those orders is another proposal that is equally troubling: his call for hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. It is unclear if this growth in staffing is prudent given the last time the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) received a large infusion of new hires, cases of corruption and misconduct spiked in the agency.
The many concerns regarding this proposal to hire thousands of new agents and officers are the focus of a new paper by Professor Josiah Heyman.
Heyman explains that the number of border and interior enforcement personnel stands at more than 49,000 today. Border Patrol saw their numbers double from Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 to 2016, with an additional 8,000 agents added between 2006 and 2009. This brought their total number of agents to a staggering 20,119. ICE likewise experienced massive growth during this time, nearly tripling in size from FY 2003 to 2016.
Serious problems followed this spike in hiring. After the 2006-2009 Border Patrol surge, “the number of employees arrested for misconduct, such as civil rights violations or off-duty crimes like domestic violence, grew each year between
Following the most recent executive order from President Trump, it is more and more apparent that we are entering an era of ever-increasing emphasis on Corporate Immigration Compliance and Enforcement. This will be sure to include additional requests for evidence on petitions, audits and unannounced workplace site-visits by the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS).
Here are five pro-active steps U.S. employers can take to ensure they are prepared for this increased scrutiny by USCIS and FDNS:
Designate in advance which employer representative will handle FDNS site visits – and a back- up in case the primary contact is unavailable.
Inform other staff members that they are not authorized to answer questions and should refer any investigators to the designated/responsible person – in particular, front desk/reception employees as these are often the first point of contact
The USCIS Regional Center Program is scheduled to sunset this Friday, April 28, at 11:59 PM. To a large extent, we have been here before. The Program’s ongoing status is once again dependent upon reauthorization in a Continuing Resolution (CR) or other spending bill. A new *draft* bill has been leaked by influential senators’ offices. And some lawmakers are drawing red lines that the Program cannot be extended without change again, even though those lines might be crossed.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should. But there is one very different element this go-round: President Trump.
Despite Republican control over each of the political branches of the federal government, Congress appears even at this late hour to lack consensus on what a CR should look like. Over the weekend, Trump and Senior Administration Officials signaled that without funding for a Mexican Border Wall, a shutdown might be possible. Without a CR in place by Saturday morning, the Regional Center Program will lapse, at least temporarily.
So then what happens?
USCIS has not publicly given guidance on this issue for many years – but the topic was raised at two instances in 2009, which provide some guidance. As first explained by the agency in February 2009, when stakeholders were examining the possibility of a March 6, 2009 lapse:
RFEs happen. In fact, visa petitions across the board are receiving more RFEs than ever. The first step to answering an RFE is figuring out who dropped the ball, what is missing, and what missing evidence – if any – is required to meet the visa eligibility requirements.
Finding out who is at fault when an RFE arrives is NOT about pointing fingers and casting blame. In fact, changing up your team at this stage of the process may be unwise even if someone did make
Recently, a few immigration attorneys who predominantly focus their practices on EB-5 have published articles denigrating the usage of EB-3 Other (EW), the unskilled worker category, for immigration. This was precipitated after so many migration agents in Asia promoted this program to people who cannot afford the EB-5 program, because the visa numbers are practically current in both categories for most Asian countries other than mainland China and India. These attorneys opined that in many cases the EW program is being described and offered in a way that is inconsistent with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) laws and regulations, and that in the most egregious cases EW programs intentionally circumvent the legal requirements
From the date of inauguration, January 20, 2017, to the beginning of the cap H-1B filing period was only 70 days. As the clock ticked down to the last days of March, everyone in the H-1B community including petitioners and beneficiaries breathed again as no edicts, proclamations, abolishment by fiat, new regulations, legislation or other acts of Congress were put forth to change the rules for H-1B season. This author believed that such might be the case given the tight timeline between January 20 and April 1 and the competing items on Mr. Trump’s agenda.
The probability is that legal immigration reform will take a backseat to the crackdown on undocumented immigrants as the latter is more headline grabbing and red meat to the populist
Under the Trump administration, immigration enforcement has become increasingly unfocused. Rather than prioritizing the apprehension and removal of immigrants who have committed serious crimes, enforcement personnel are now scooping up anyone who is deportable for any reason. This lack of prioritization has translated into a surge in immigration-related arrests across the board.
The jump in arrests is apparent in new data provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Washington Post. According to the ICE data, 21,362 immigrants were arrested from January through mid-March, compared to 16,104 during the same period last year. While most had some type of criminal conviction (including minor, non-violent