The EB-5 Visa Perfect for Investors Looking to Create Jobs
Categories USCIS

The EB-5 Visa: Perfect for Investors Looking to Create Jobs

Our posts tend to focus a lot on the H-1B visa simply because it is one of the most popular for companies trying to bring in foreign born workers. But truth be told, there are dozens of employment and business immigration visas in play. Because companies cannot apply for an EB-5 on behalf of an employee, one that does not get a lot of attention is the EB-5 visa for foreign investors.

The EB-5 Immigration Investor Program represents a pathway to permanent residency by way of a green card. The U.S. makes this pathway available to foreign investors willing and able to make substantial investments in businesses that create jobs. A successful investor can secure green cards for him or herself and all immediate family members.

As with all things in business immigration, successfully applying for an EB-5 visa requires knowing your way around U.S. immigration. Even the best investors need help, which is why we always advise retaining the services of a business immigration attorney. Attorneys specializing in immigration law are the most qualified to help with the EB-5.

Minimum Requirements for Investors

U.S. immigration law sets some minimum standards for the EB-5 Immigration Investor Program. They include minimum investment amounts. In order to obtain an EB-5 visa, a foreign investor must meet one of the following two requirements:

  1. Invest a minimum of $1.05 million in urban areas with low unemployment; or
  2. Invest $800k in rural areas or areas with high unemployment.

Those areas with high unemployment are also known as Target Employment Areas (TEAs). Furthermore, in addition to meeting one of the two conditions, the business a foreign investor puts money into must either create or preserve a minimum of ten full-time jobs for people already authorized to work in this country. Such workers include citizens, permanent residents, and authorized immigrants.

Direct and Indirect Investment

The next thing to know about the EB-5 visa for immigrant investors is how qualifying investments can be made. The first method is through direct investment. The immigrant investor either starts a new business or invests in an existing company. With either option, the investor must directly manage the job creation aspect. Another way to look at it is that the investor must be directly responsible for creating or maintaining the required number of jobs.

A second way to qualify for the visa is to invest through a regional business center. How does it work? A number of investors pool their financial resources into a regional center approved by the USCIS. That center manages a portfolio of qualifying businesses. It is responsible for managing the job creation aspect.

The indirect investment option is a good choice for foreign born investors not looking to become directly involved in the day-to-day operations of a company on U.S. soil. It still requires a significant investment from the immigrant seeking the visa but without requiring that the applicant have considerable business skill or experience.

Other Things to Know

In closing, there are a couple of additional things to know about the EB-5 visa. First of all, the law doesn’t require any minimum education or work experience. As long as an investor has the financial resources and can meet the other conditions, permanent resident cards can be issued.

Completing EB-5 paperwork and meeting program deadlines can be complicated. Because applying for the visa is so complex, we recommend working with an immigration attorney. Graham Adair can help. Contact us to learn more about this unique visa and how we can help you complete the application process. The EB-5 could be the pathway to permanent residency for you and your family.

Is the H-1B Visa Appropriate for Nonimmigrant Healthcare Workers
Categories News & Updates USCIS

Is the H-1B Visa Appropriate for Non-Immigrant Healthcare Workers?

Labor shortages in the healthcare system continue unabated. Healthcare providers trying to fill open jobs need to look for skilled talent wherever they can find it. Sometimes that means looking overseas. Finding skilled workers overseas is the easy part; getting them here is much harder. For example, what is the most appropriate visa for non-immigrant healthcare workers?

We are often asked if the H-1B visa is appropriate. The answer is not totally straightforward, but certain healthcare positions are indeed covered by the H-1B visa.

A Serious Problem

Staffing shortages in healthcare represent a serious problem on multiple levels. For starters, being unable to maintain sufficient staffing levels directly impacts patient outcomes. It impacts quality of care and safety. But that’s not all.

Recent survey data from Experian Health indicates that nearly every healthcare institution in this country is being impacted by staffing shortages. Some 70% of the survey respondents said the biggest impact is being seen in reimbursements. Denial rates are going up because providers do not have enough staff to properly manage claims.

This data paints a bleak picture. Healthcare is hurting right now. It is dealing with insufficient talent to staff hospitals, clinics, group practices, etc. But again, is the H-1B visa a partial solution? It could be.

How the H-1B Visa Applies

Despite its long and complicated title, the primary focus of the H-1B visa is highly skilled workers in specialty occupations. Certain healthcare jobs fit the bill. Think of hospitalists, physicians, surgeons, advanced practice nurses, RNs and LPNs, dentists, and therapists. Even some medical research jobs are covered under H-1B visa guidelines.

Nearly all clinical positions can be filled by non-immigrant workers under H-1B status. Likewise, a large number of technical positions are also covered. If there is any chance that your organization could fill specialty jobs through non-immigrant workers, we encourage you to at least look into the H-1B visa program.

Other Options

While the H-1B visa is arguably the most common choice for non-immigrant workers in healthcare, there are other options when H-1B does not apply. Here are a few of them:

  • H-2B Visa – The H-2B visa is intended primarily for temporary non-agricultural workers. It can be applied to certain types of healthcare workers employed on a seasonal or peak basis. During periods of extraordinarily high demand, the H-2B represents one avenue for bringing in more workers.
  • J-1 Visa – The J-1 visa program targets educational and cultural exchange program participants. Medical school graduates can utilize the J-1 to take advantage of clinical training programs and fellowships in the U.S.
  • O-1 Visa – The O-1 visa is normally associated with athletes, artists, and the like. But it is appropriate for highly skilled healthcare professionals with extraordinary abilities. Surgeons and medical researchers immediately come to mind. However, note that applicants must demonstrate their extraordinary abilities to qualify.

There are no easy answers to healthcare’s ongoing staffing shortages. We obviously need to expand educational programs and find ways to encourage American students to choose healthcare careers. We also need some systemic changes within our system to prevent healthcare professionals from leaving their careers in search of greener pastures.

In the meantime, foreign born healthcare professionals with non-immigrant visas are helping to alleviate staffing shortages, at least to some degree. If you are a healthcare administrator and need assistance navigating U.S. immigration to bring non-immigrant workers here, we can help. Contact us to learn more.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

Chart Showing USCIS Fee Increases

See the summary chart of fee increases at the bottom of this article.

USCIS has issued a new fee schedule that will go into effect on April 1, 2024. USCIS has not done this sort of fee increase since December of 2016. USCIS states that the increases are necessary to improve processing times, considering increasing costs due to inflation. USCIS had issued a proposed rule, followed by a notice and comment period. There were few changes to the proposed fees after the notice and comment period.

First, the good news. Because the new fees go into effect on April 1st, the increased H-1B registration fee will not be impacted for this year’s H-1B lottery.

On the other hand, U.S. companies are being asked to shoulder costs for administering the asylum program, wherein many applicants are unable to pay the costs associated with processing their application. The additional $600 fee will be assessed to companies filing cases on Form I-129, which includes H-1Bs, as well as Form I-140 for those going through the green card process. The fee is reduced to $300 for organizations with fewer than 25 employees, and $0 for nonprofit organizations.

Employers currently pay a $500 fraud prevention fee on many cases, which is a 1-time fee. They also pay a $1500 education and training fee on H-1Bs ($750 for companies with 25 or fewer employees), which is typically paid twice – once on the employee’s initial petition and again on the first extension. However, this new asylum program fee does not seem to have any such limits. This means that the fee could be paid many times by companies sponsoring an H-1B employee, for example, from India who requires many extension before being able to receive a green card.

Here is a summary of the fee increases:

Case Type Current Fee New Fee
4/1/2024
Percent Change  
EMPLOYMENT-BASED PETITION FEES
Standard Asylum Program Fee (applicable to I-129 and I-140 petitions) N/A $600 N/A
Asylum Program Fee – Small Employers (25 employees or less) N/A $300 N/A
Asylum Program Fee – Nonprofits N/A $0 N/A
NONIMMIGRANT      
H-1B Registration Fee $10 $215 2050%
Form I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 Classifications $460 $780 70%
Form I-129 H-1B and H-1B1 Classifications – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $460 0%
Form I-129 H-2B – Named Beneficiaries $460 $1,080 135%
Form I-129 H-2B – Named Beneficiaries – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $540 17%
Form I-129 H-2B – Unnamed Beneficiaries $460 $580 26%
Form I-129 H-2B – Unnamed Beneficiaries – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $460 0%
Form I-129 L Classification $460 $1,385 201%
Form I-129 L Classification – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $695 51%
Form I-129 O Classification $460 $1,055 129%
Form I-129 O Classification – Small Employers and Nonprofits $460 $530 15%
Form I-129 E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, H-3, P, Q, R Classifications $460 $1,015 121%
Form I-129 E-1, E-2, E-3, TN, H-3, P, Q, R Classifications – Sm Emp and NP’s $460 $510 11%
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status – Online $370 $420 14%*
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status – Paper $370 $470 27%*
IMMIGRANT      
Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition $700 $715 2%
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor $3,675 $11,160 204%
Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor $3,675 $11,160 204%
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $1,140 $1,440 26%
Form I-485, Application to Register Perm. Res. or Adjust Status (under 14) $750 $950 27%
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – Online $410 $470*** 15%*
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – Paper $410 $520*** 27%*
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document $575 $630 10%
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – Online $455 $415 -9%
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card – Paper $455 $465 2%
CITIZENSHIP      
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization – Online $640 $710 11%
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization – Paper $640 $760 19%

 

Please contact us at info@grahamadair.com; (408) 715-7067 with any questions.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

USCIS Organization Account Rollout Next Month

Earlier this month, we were excited to share with you that the USCIS would be allowing for e-filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions. On Wednesday, January 24, 2023, USCIS held a webinar for legal representatives on their new online organization accounts rollout. The enhancements to their online account system, which include the ability to file H-1B petitions and premium processing requests online, go live February 2024, just in time for the FY2025 H-1B registration period and H-1B cap season petition filings.

USCIS hopes that these new features will foster further collaboration between legal representatives and H-1B petitioning companies. With the rollout, H-1B petitioning companies will assume a larger role in the H-1B registration process and online filing system with the creation of company groups. Each company group will have one or more administrator who has the authority to pay for and file petitions on behalf of the company as well as group members.

As of now, there are limitations to the new organization accounts system that will render law firms unable to implement on a large scale. For instance, concurrent filing of H-1B petitions and H-4 dependent applications is not going to be available in February, and the ability to upgrade a paper I-129 petition to premium processing will also not be available in February.

USCIS’s mission to modernize its filing system is a welcome sign that other filing and case processing enhancements may be coming in the near future. We are monitoring these changes and will provide updates as they are available.

Please contact us at info@grahamadair.com or (408) 715-7067 with questions about this topic or other immigration inquiries.

 

Understanding the H-1B Cap Makes the Petition Process Easier
Categories News & Updates USCIS

Understanding the H-1B Cap Makes the Petition Process Easier

It would be nice if filing an H-1B petition for business immigration were as simple as completing a two- or three-page application and waiting a few weeks to get approval. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. The H-1B system is among the most complex of all immigration and visa programs. Much of the misunderstanding related to H-1B visas is the direct result of a cap system.

Congress has intentionally limited the number of H-1B visas USCIS can issue every year through a hard cap. The cap currently sits at 65,000. There are an additional 20,000 visas available to certain exempt individuals. If all the additional visas are not used in a given fiscal year, they are carried over and added to the 65,000 ‘standard’ visas for the following year.

The Basics of How It Works

Due to the limits and the fact that the cap is almost always reached very early on in any given fiscal year, USCIS doesn’t even accept H-1B petitions from foreign nationals who haven’t been selected in the annual lottery. So how does a person get their name in the system? By way of electronic registration.

Interested individuals must first create an account on the USCIS website. Registration begins on March 1 and ends on March 17. It is up to the individual to log onto their account during that timeframe to complete the registration process. Applicants are selected randomly through a lottery, so it is not necessary that an individual be among the first to register on March 1. They just need to be sure their e-registration is submitted correctly and before the deadline to be included in the H-1B lottery. 

It does not take long for the number of registrations to exceed the total number of visas to be issued for the next fiscal year. Thus, the lottery system. If an individual is selected in the lottery, the next step is to submit the actual H-1B petition.

No Earlier Than Six Months Prior

H-1B petitions need to be filed soon enough to allow processing prior to the start of employment. However, the USCIS does not take petitions any earlier than six months ahead of time. That is generally not a big deal given that petitions can be processed in a few weeks. With an effective date of October 1st, which marks the beginning of the government’s fiscal year, new H-1B applications can be filed no earlier than April 1st. .

That’s a critical time given the fact that a typical petition package includes 14 different types of documentation. Packets must include a number of forms including I-129, supplement forms, and a G-28. They must also include a letter from the employer sponsoring the foreign national, and it is recommended to include a letter from the attorney preparing the application. Packets must include a variety of supporting documentation including personal identification documents, education documents, company documents, and translations as needed. The H-1B application must also demonstrate the candidate’s qualifications for the position being sponsored. 

The key to ensuring swift processing of an H-1B petition is to submit a correct packet. But note that a correct packet doesn’t just contain the right documentation: it should also be arranged in a specific order to make the process easier for the USCIS officer reviewing the case. In cases where an employer submits multiple packets in the same package, each packet should be in a separate envelope.

It All Starts With the Cap

This is simply a brief overview of a very complex and nuanced process. For many foreign-born individuals, their career in the United States starts with the H-1B lottery. The H-1B cap is purposely designed to limit the number of visas the U.S. issues to temporary workers. If you do not understand how the cap system works, you could find yourself easily frustrated by the H-1B process. Fortunately, we can help as business immigration attorneys. We make it our job to know and fully understand everything about the H-1B visa, cap, and lottery system. We have helped our clients successfully navigate the complexities of the H-1B cap for many years.

Please contact us at info@grahamadair.com or 408-715-7067 if you would like our help.