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.

Categories Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Finding Your I-797 Expiration Date and What it Means

The I-797 Notice of Action form is a critical document in the U.S. immigration process, serving as an official notification from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Attached to some I-797 approvals is an I-94 document, which provides the official expiration date of a person’s authorized stay in the United States.

I. What is the I-797 Notice of Action?

The I-797 is a document issued by USCIS to communicate various immigration-related actions. It may serve as a receipt notice, approval notice, transfer notice, or request for additional evidence. Within the context of work visas, such as H-1B, L-1, and O-1, there is an I-797A, I-797B, and I-797C. I-797A is issued ONLY to people who are currently in the U.S. and those who are undergoing a change of status, for example from F-1 to H-1B.
The A means that the applicant can continue to remain in the U.S. and work. Because of this, I-797A will have an I-94 attached to the bottom.
I-797B is issued to those who had never been to the U.S. or to those whose change of status cannot be approved. This means that the recipient is qualified for the job, but a change of status cannot be approved. Therefore, those receiving an I-797B will need to apply for an entry visa at a U.S. consular post outside of the United States (except for citizens of Canada).

I-797C is a copy issued to sponsoring employers.

II. Locating the I-797 Expiration Date:

The expiration date on the I-797 is located at the top right of the page. For I-797A approvals, there will also be an I-94 document attached at the bottom, which will also show the expiration date, as pictured below:

I-797 expiration dateIf you depart the United States and re-enter, you will receive a new I-94 document, which can be retrieved at: www.cbp.gov/i94. This new I-94 document will have an expiration date that now overrides the expiration date on the previously issued I-797.

I-94 Expiration DateThe date on the I-94 will often be the same as the expiration date on the I-797. However, if it is different, the last action rule dictates that the I-94 date governs. Therefore, it is critical to check the new I-94 every time a person re-enters the U.S. If there is a mistake on the I-94, it should be raised to an attorney to assist in getting it corrected.

III. Significance of the I-797 Expiration Date:

Understanding the expiration date on the I-797 is crucial to ensure the person remains in valid status during their stay in the United States. If an individual wishes to extend or renew their immigration status, they must initiate the process before the I-797 expiration date to maintain continuous legal presence.

Individuals planning international travel should be mindful of the I-94 expiration date, as it may impact their ability to re-enter the United States without a valid visa or approval notice.

Please contact us with any questions at info@grahamadair.com.

H-1B Pilot Program for Domestic Visa s Runs Through April 1
Categories News & Updates

H-1B Pilot Program for Domestic Visas Runs Through April 1

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) launched a pilot program in late January, a program that will allow certain types of H-1B workers to renew their nonimmigrant visas domestically. The program only runs through April 1, so interested applicants should get their paperwork in as soon as possible.

Also note that the DOS is only accepting a limited number of applications. If the limit is reached prior to April 1, no further applications will be received. At the time of this writing, the program was only 30 days old. It appears as though the DOS is still taking applications at this time.

Under the program, only 20,000 H-1B visas will be issued. As with all things immigration related, applicants must meet minimum eligibility requirements to be considered. If you or one of your employees is interested in applying, Graham Adair’s business immigration attorneys would be happy to help guide the process.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements for the program are rather long and detailed. Here is our summary, in the simplest possible language:

  • Applicants must be seeking to renew an H-1B nonimmigrant visa only.
  • The visa being renewed must have been issued by either U.S. Mission Canada or U.S. Mission India.
  • The visa being renewed must have been issued between 01/01/20 and 04/01/23 (Canada) or 02/01/21 and 09/30/21 (India).
  • Applicants must not be subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee.
  • Applicants must be eligible for the in-person interview waiver.
  • Applicants must have submitted the appropriate fingerprints for the previous application.
  • The prior visa cannot include a ‘clearance received’ annotation.
  • There cannot be any visa ineligibility requiring a waiver.
  • Applicants must be among those most recently admitted to the U.S. under H-1B status.
  • Applicants must be currently maintaining H-1B status in the U.S.
  • Applicants must possess an approved and unexpired H-1B petition.
  • An applicant’s authorized admission must not have yet expired.
  • Applicants must intend to reenter the U.S. under H-1B status after temporarily going abroad.

The DOS estimates that applications will be processed within 6-8 weeks from the date proper documentation is received by the Department. Note that application processing does not guarantee the issuance of an H-1B visa.

Applications may not be adjudicated if all the requirements are not met. Those sent back without adjudication are not subject to a refund of the MRV fee, so keep that in mind. Anyone whose application is returned without adjudication will not be issued a visa domestically. Proper steps will have to be taken to renew the applicant’s current visa under standard protocols.

Another Complicated Program

We wish we could say that the pilot program is easy to navigate. We can’t. We have yet another complicated program from the DOS, a program still designed with good intentions despite being difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, we have come to expect that from the federal government. Complications come with the territory.

From our perspective, it is all the more reason to work with an experienced business immigration attorney on such matters. Experienced attorneys are very familiar with the rules, regulations, paperwork, and deadlines. An experienced attorney is the most qualified person to advise an employer or immigrant worker trying to navigate visa renewal.

It will be interesting to see where the pilot program goes from here. If it is a success, it may become a permanent fixture in U.S. immigration. Otherwise, expect the program to go away as quickly as it was launched. We will keep an eye on things here at Graham Adair.

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.