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    Published on 02-04-2016 10:12 AM



    Published on 02-04-2016 09:27 AM

    The Zika Virus Epidemic as Grounds for TPS


    Politically difficult, but logically unavoidable, is temporary protective status (TPS) to protect foreign nationals against the Zika virus.

    As expected, there are many uncertainties about a newly endemic disease, but the current medical consensus is that while the majority of infected people suffer no, or at worst, mild flu symptoms, fetuses risk catastrophic injuries, particularly microcephaly, birth with a tiny head/brain. The primary, but not exclusive vector of infection is Aedes mosquitos. Blood transfusion and sexual transmission ...
    Published on 02-03-2016 12:18 PM

    The Long Road to Biometric Entry Exit



    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new report this week detailing visa overstays in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, estimating approximately 415,000 individuals overstayed their visa in the past year. The report was referenced heavily in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest hearing this week, which focused on the failure to implement a biometric exit system in the United States.

    The report showed that over 45 million individuals came to the United States in 2015 and “as of January 4, 2016, DHS has been able to confirm the departures of more than 99 percent of nonimmigrant visitors scheduled to depart in FY2015 via air and sea POEs [point of entries], and that number continues to grow.” This means that just over 415,000 individuals overstayed their visa in the past year. There is no earlier data to compare this number to as DHS has not previously released reports on overstays.

    Since 1996, ...

    Published on 02-03-2016 11:09 AM

    EB-5 Program Becomes Examination Priority For Both the SEC and FINRA


    Private Placements: Focusing Closely on EB-5 Program

    It is well-known in the EB-5 community that the Securities Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) is scrutinizing the EB-5 program closer than ever. The SEC and the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (“FINRA”) each formalized their belief that the EB-5 program needs greater regulation in their 2016 examination letters. Both regulatory agencies annually publish examination priorities that highlight areas of concerns that the agencies plan to focus on particularly in their examinations and investigations in the coming year.[1] Each agency outlined in their 2016 examination letters that they will be focusing closely on private placement offerings under the EB-5 program. The source of the concerns likely stems from the increasing popularity and use of the program, and from recent regulatory changes that allow general solicitation of private placements.

    Concerns Expressed in Examination Letters

    In the examination letters, the SEC and FINRA specifically stated how their focus for ...

    Published on 02-02-2016 12:31 PM

    The EB-5 Visa Program: What It Is and How It Works.


    Published on 02-02-2016 10:37 AM



    This post is part of e-Council Inc.’s “Spotlight” series, in which we feature successful EB-5 projects across different industries and business types. Some of the spotlighted businesses may be our clients’ while others are not, but all have one theme in common: SUCCESS Using EB-5 Capital.

    Charter schools are gaining in popularity as a means of improving the quality of public education in the United States. Such schools are helping to improve academic performance and close the achievement gap between students in low-income and wealthier neighborhoods. A little-known fact is that many successful charter schools have benefited and been built from EB-5 funding. In this post, we will describe the charter school industry and discuss what makes it a good investment option for EB-5 Visa applicants. Finally, we will offer some examples of successful EB-5 funded charter school projects.

    What are Charter Schools?

    Charter schools offer free, publicly funded primary- and secondary-level education that is managed by private organizations. Charter schools are differentiated from regular public schools mainly because they enjoy a flexibility and autonomy in the design and implementation of their respective curricula, while still being held accountable to state and federal academic standards. This allows charter school teachers the freedom to be more innovative while focusing on improving student achievement. Many charter schools emphasize a core academic subject by creating a school culture or adopting a theme, such as: Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) education, performing arts, career-readiness, language immersion, or meeting the needs of autistic students. In addition, while receiving taxpayer dollars, charter schools often benefit from the hefty support of philanthropic foundations and private donors, which is not typically the case for regular public schools.

    These characteristics make charter schools an attractive option for parents seeking the best education for their children, particularly those who are zoned for underperforming schools. Research has shown that charter schools are raising student achievement levels. Fifteen of 16 studies published since 2010 found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional public school peers. Children who attend charter schools are also more likely to graduate from high school than their traditional public school peers.

    According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter schools continue to disproportionately top the lists of America’s best high schools in Newsweek, US News and World Report, and the Washington Post. In fact, on these lists more than a quarter of the best high schools are charter schools. The popularity of charter schools explains why there are ...
    Published on 02-02-2016 09:47 AM

    Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program Reopens


    The Background

    The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is a program whereby the province of Alberta nominates candidates to become permanent residents of Canada.

    There are a number of AINP streams including:

    • The Employer Driven Stream whereby foreign workers in Alberta (and in some cases, not yet in Alberta) may seek nomination for permanent residence; as well as
    • The Strategic Recruitment Stream, with subcategories for:
      • Compulsory and Optional Trade Categories
      • Engineering Occupations, and
      • Post-Graduate Workers

    The program has been popular, and has received numerous applications. Indeed, in an attempt to reduce their backlog, the Alberta Provincial Nominee Program (AINP) put a pause on accepting applications in 2015.

    What’s New

    Published on 02-01-2016 12:12 PM

    Undocumented Population Continues to Decline in the U.S.



    Despite significant job growth and an economic recovery over the last few years, the undocumented population in the United States has continued to decline. According to a new report by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) released last week the undocumented population has decreased every year from 2009 to 2014, falling below 11 million for the first time since 2004.

    The undocumented population fell from 12 million in 2008 to 10.9 million in 2014, a decline of just under 10 percent in 6 years. The undocumented population from Mexico is the main driver of the decline falling by over 600,000 people in the last 5 years from 6.6 million in 2010 to 6 million in 2014.

    Interestingly, while the undocumented population declined nationwide, it fell especially in Illinois where the state lost 23 percent of its undocumented population in 5 years. Yet 11 states including, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and Michigan saw an increase in their undocumented population.

    These numbers largely echo numbers reported by the Pew Research Center last year. While Pew estimates the undocumented population of 2014 at 11.3 million, they also see a decline of about a million people  from the 2007 high of 12.2 million. While there is some disagreement between the studies regarding the size of each state’s undocumented population both studies note increases in the undocumented population of Virginia and Pennsylvania and decreases in states with large immigrant populations like New York, Illinois, and California.

    The CMS study ...

    Published on 02-01-2016 11:05 AM



    Published on 02-01-2016 10:48 AM

    Preserving H-1B Extension For Spouse And Freezing Age Of Child In Rule Impacting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers


    The purpose of this blog is to draw attention to two little know legal concepts, which must either be preserved or introduced through the proposed rule entitled Retention of EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers”. They are concepts worthy of promotion since they would greatly benefit delayed green card applicants, especially with respect to extending H-1B status beyond the six years and freezing the age of a child under the Child Status Protection Act under a new I-140 petition. While there are many other proposals in need of repair and improvement, I focus on these two since I have dwelt on them with passion in past blogs, here and here, and now is a time to advocate for their inclusion in the proposed rule.

    This rule when finalized will provide relief to skilled immigrants who are presently on nonimmigrant visas and are caught in the crushing employment-based backlogs. The centerpiece of this rule would allow beneficiaries of approved employment based immigration visa petitions, known as I-140 petitions, to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD), although it has disappointed many by setting stringent criteria, which ...

    Published on 01-29-2016 12:37 PM

    Client Reviews Are Critical in Getting New Business



    I had an epiphany about the most important element in law firm marketing. When I had to find an out-of-state lawyer, client reviews made all the difference.

    It started when a friend of my in Tucson, AZ, asked me to help find a lawyer. His daughter in rural Iowa was getting a divorce and needed a new lawyer. Was there any way I could help?

    Certainly, I said, adding that I had access to many online databases of lawyers. 

    A test

    For years I have advised lawyers how to get clients online, and this would be a test of which lawyers did the best job. I did what most consumers do when they don't have someone to call for a reference: I searched online. Among the rosters of lawyers I found, the primary distinguishing feature was online reviews.

    I Googled for a lawyer, using "divorce" and the city name, and found many lawyer directories on the first page of results. My first stop was Avvo, whose "Find a lawyer" function produced no lawyers with a client review in this sparsely-populated area. However there was a "Pro" advertisement for a local lawyer with a 6.1 out of 10 rating, which did not inspire confidence. I kept looking.

    Next I tried Martindale.com, which found the same lawyer (who ...

    Published on 01-29-2016 10:30 AM

    SEC Enforcement Actions and Exam Priorities


    Kurt: Since 2013, when the SEC filed its first enforcement actions related to EB-5, it has been vigorously pursuing and investigating misconduct and abuses. 

    Last year I estimate there were twenty (20) SEC enforcement actions related to the EB5 program. The actual figure is unknown as the SEC doesn't publish all enforcement actions, however I was able to dig up ten (10) distinct SEC press releases.

    Lori, do you have any thoughts about how the SEC approached the EB5 industry last year and how it might approach 2016?

    Lori: As we have seen in the past several years, the SEC has been delving into what might be considered the more egregious of the EB5 projects, or at least those that were least able to account for their funds in some way. What the SEC essentially went after was the low-hanging fruit. And it seems to me that these more egregious cases might have piqued their interest in the industry and in EB5 in general.

    Then, of course, the SEC typically expands its scope. Originally, it was just this easily identifiable fraud, where money was taken or not spent as it was intended. But then the SEC began delving further, investigating immigration attorneys ...

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