Tag Archives: H1B

The American Dream May Be Quenched For All Immigrants By the 2021 Dreamers Act

The Dreamers Act is a bill passed in 2021 by the House of Representatives in a vote of 298-197.

“The bill would provide conditional permanent resident status for ten years to dreamers, deferred enforced departure (DED), temporary protected status (TPS), and children of non-immigrant visa holders who may age out of status,” says Brent Renison, an immigration attorney in Portland, Oregon. This means that the Bill not only gives dreamers the security of legal citizenship in the US, it also extends that courtesy to immigrants that have come here on employment-based visas such as the popular H1B visa.

“It has affected…employment categories, mostly, people born in India or China,” says Renison.

Over the past decade or so, a lot of families have moved here from India on TPS or temporary protected status-based visas. However, their priority dates for permanent residency have moved excruciatingly slowly. Parents who brought their kids when they were in elementary school, started aging out (above 21), and the kids were forced to either go back to India or apply for an F1 or student visa, which posed its own restrictions and challenges.

The 2021 Dreamers Act or HR6, helps such families that came here on H1B, LR, or E visa from the green card backlog and puts them on the path for citizenship. If a family comes into the States with a child that is 18 years or younger and applies for an LPR then, they are on the right track to gain the security of becoming a legal citizen. 

The HR6 dream and promise act provides a safety net for such families and gives them a direct path to citizenship. This is not only beneficial for individuals and families but will also have a positive impact on the economy says, Joseph Villela, director of policy and advocacy for CHIRLA: “Based on a survey, 78% of them indicated that they got their first job because of the change of status, 45% reported an increase in earnings.” 50% of the DACA beneficiaries who were surveyed also opened a bank account and 23% received their first credit card. This survey shows the various significantly positive effects change in status has on the American economy and boosting its GDP. 

While DACA provided temporary relief to a lot of young adults, the 2021 Dream and Promise Act is especially comforting to the millions of undocumented citizens who lost their status or risked it during the Trump administration. “This bill gives time,” says Patrice Lawrence, the Co-Director for the UndocuBlack Network. The bill provides the temporary security of time (three years) for TPS and DED holders, and for dreamers and undocumented citizens, to adjust their status. 

During this time of hoping and fighting for the rights of dreamers, undocumented citizens, TPS, and DED holders, it is important that the media focus on humanizing individual stories rather than confining people to survey numbers or certain categories. The speakers at the EMS briefing on April 9th all stated the importance of showing stories that humanize and show the realities of immigrants in the media whilst also understanding the positive contributions they make to American society.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Managing Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy, stated that public opinion is especially important in local districts and states as Congress members will look specifically at those pollings. It is most effective to advocate for the rights of these individuals through constituent calls, local papers, hearsay, etc. in each district. It’s important to broaden advocacy to every state and location. 

José Alonso Munoz, the National Communications Manager for United We Dream highlighted the importance to recognise and separate the political aspect and from the humanity of people that are fighting for their rights every day. All the speakers agreed that humanizing individual stories and highlighting their realities as a media platform, actively participating, and standing up for such individuals, are both extremely effective ways in which public opinion matters and will always matter in this fight. 

“We need to overhaul the system” concludes  Joseph Villela, director of policy and advocacy for CHIRLA.

Helpful links:

CHIRLA 

https://www.chirla.org

United We dream

https://unitedwedream.org

UndocuBlack Network  

https://undocublack.org

Other helpful links: 

“House Passes American Dream and Promise Act, Providing Pathway to Citizenship for Children of H-1B Workers”- India West 

American Immigration Council: Dream Act Overview 


Swati Ramaswamy is a recent graduate from UC Davis and an aspiring creative writer  


 

Immigration Fees Increase Can Affect You

On July 31, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security announced an increase to many fees for immigration and naturalization benefit requests. Although most fees are increasing, a $10 discount is offered for online submission where available.

Employment Visa Updates

Employers are understandably concerned about the potential effect the rule has on H-1B, L-1, and other immigrant employees.

For employers with more than 50 employees and more than 50% of those employees in H-1B or L-1 status, a $4,000 fee applies.

The rule expands the Public Law 114-113 fee of $4,000 to both H-1B and L-1 new employment as well as extensions of stay for employers that meet the 50 employees, 50% dependability test. The Public Law fee will apply regardless of whether the fraud fee applies. Extension requests for H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B visas filed by the same petitioner for the same employee or H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B amended petitions were previously exempt from the additional fee.

DHS will now separate the I-129 into forms based on case type and eliminate the current supplements to the I-129 form. This also allows DHS to charge separate fees for each form depending on the classification. DHS states that the current base filing fee of $460 doesn’t accurately capture the costs associated with adjudication since the fee is paid regardless of how many nonimmigrant workers will benefit from the petition or application, the type of worker evaluated, whether an employee is identified, or how long it takes to adjudicate the different nonimmigrant classifications. 

The rule updates the filing fees as follows:

Case Type Current Fee Final Fee Change Percent Change
E-1E-2TN $460 $695 $235 51 percent
H-1B $460 $555 $95 21 percent
H-2A
(named beneficiaries) 
$460 $850 $390 85 percent
H-2B
(named beneficiaries)
$460 $715 $255 55 percent
L-1AL-1B $460 $805 $345 75 percent
O-1 $460 $705 $245 53 percent
H-2A
(unnamed beneficiaries)
$460 $415 -$45 -10 percent
H-2B
(unnamed beneficiaries)
$460 $385 -$75 -16 percent

Green Card Fee Changes

Children under the age of 14 filing for a green card with their parents were previously able to pay a reduced fee of $750 instead of the $1,140 (plus $85 biometrics fee) currently charged to older applicants. All applicants will pay $1,130 under the new rule.

DHS also chose to separate the filing fees for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, when either filed concurrently with Form I-485 or after the Form I-485 has been accepted and is still pending. Current regulations allow individuals to pay the I-485 fee, but also file the I-765 and I-131 without additional fees if filed concurrently. 

The rule claims: “Debundling allows individuals to pay for only the services actually requested. Thus, many individuals may not pay the full combined price for Forms I-485, I-131, and I-765.” The newly established fees are as follows:

  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document: $590
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization: $550
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or adjust Status: $1,130

Individuals applying for work and travel documents along with their permanent residence application will now pay a total of $2,270.

Citizenship Fees

DHS will remove the N-400 fee waiver (Form I-942) and the reduced fee option “in order to recover full cost for naturalization services.” The rule also removes the fee waiver for the N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. However, the removal of fee waivers will reduce the cost of Forms N-600 and N-600K because the increased fee would no longer need to cover the cost of the fee-waived form adjudication.

However, the N-400 would not be afforded the same price decrease as the N-600: DHS raised the naturalization fee an astounding 83% from $640 to $1,170 for the paper-based filing. With the removal of the reduced fee option, naturalization may be financially out of reach for many families.

Premium Processing 

Currently, petitioners or applicants can pay $1,440 for certain employment-based petitions to be adjudicated within 15 calendar days. The new rule will change the 15-day calculation from calendar days to business days, while also excluding federal holidays and regional or national office closures due to weather or other causes. 

The rule also states that the 15-day period be paused when USCIS issues a notification of approval, denial, RFE, or NOID. The rule would also clarify that a new 15 business day period will begin upon receipt of an RFE or NOID response. If an investigation is opened for fraud or misrepresentation, USCIS can retain the fee and not reach a conclusion to the request within 15 days. 

The agency claims that the shift to calculating by business days will allow USCIS additional time to complete processing on a premium processing petition and could reduce the need for USCIS to suspend premium processing when request filing volumes are high.

Payment Updates

USCIS will eliminate the $30 returned check fee because the fees associated with collecting the charge were higher than the returned check fees actually collected. However, petitioners and applicants should still ensure that adequate funds are available to avoid processing delays. 

Another shift that has the potential to trip up applicants and petitioners is the planned updates to certain form instructions to only allow certain payment types for certain forms. For example, USCIS may determine that it only wants to accept credit or debit card payments for naturalization. USCIS could also decide that only a check or money order is acceptable payment for a certain form. The rule does not modify the instructions at this time, but states: 

“In this final rule, DHS does not restrict the method of payment for any particular immigration benefit request. This final rule clarifies the authority for DHS to prescribe certain types of payments for specific immigration benefits or methods of submission.” 

Extra precautions must be taken to review form instructions every time a case is filed to avoid a processing delay due to an incorrect payment type. 

Biometrics Fees

The new rule incorporates biometrics fees into the underlying immigration benefit request to “simplify the fee structure, reduce rejections of benefit requests for failure to include a separate biometric services fee, and better reflect how USCIS uses biometric information.” The fee includes FBI name checks, FBI fingerprints, Application Support Center (ASC) contractual support, and biometric service management (including federal employees at ASC locations). The rule outlines that a separate biometric services fee will be retained for Temporary Protected Status in the amount of $30, but requests for other immigration benefits will include the biometric fee. 

Secure Mail Initiative

We have seen many clients suffer when the United States Postal Service (USPS) loses important immigration notifications. The rule announced that USCIS will implement Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery (SCRD) as the sole method of delivery of secure USCIS documents. USPS states that Signature Confirmation requires that the recipient or another responsible person at the residence be present to sign for the item and then the sender will receive the signature and name of the recipient and the date, time, and location of the delivery. The rule outlines states 

“USCIS and applicants can track their document using the USPS website up to when the document is delivered. Recipients will also have the ability to change their delivery location by going to the USPS website and selecting “hold for pickup” to arrange for pickup at a post office at a date and time that suits them.”

Applicants and petitioners should ensure that accurate addresses are submitted prior to the case filing.

Timeline for Rule Implementation

The fee increase is effective Oct. 2, 2020 for any immigration filings postmarked on or after that date. If you are eligible for any of the immigration benefits subject to the fee increase, you should initiate your immigration process as soon as possible to avoid the substantial increase in USCIS filing fees. 


To initiate your case and save money, email [email protected] or call 804-360-8482. 

Foreign Worker Visas Are the Tech Industry’s Dirty Secret

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bars hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States by suspending new work visas.

The argument against the most significant of these visas, the H-1B, has always been that they harm employment prospects for Americans and depress wages. Some of the criticism is justified: The H-1B visa, which U.S. technology companies and outsourcing firms use to hire 85,000 new foreign specialists each year, is indeed problematic because it puts both American and foreign workers at a disadvantage. These visas are the U.S. tech industry’s dirty secret. They tie the foreign workers to their jobs and allow the employer to pay them less than they could be earning—which drives down pay for American workers as well.

But the solution isn’t for the government to lock the doors or try to control wages; it is to let competition on the labor market do its magic. The simple fix is to allow H-1B visa holders to work for any employer that pays them the highest wage or for the start-up that offers the most rewarding work.

This is something I have written about a lot, including in a 2012 book titled The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent. I warned then about the deep flaws in U.S. immigration policies and predicted that China and India would greatly benefit from these flaws—and, unfortunately, that prediction was correct. With help from workers who honed their skills in the United States but couldn’t stay, both of those countries have built innovation capabilities that rival the United States’, and both now have many technology start-ups valued in the billions of dollars.

Here is the problem: For decades, the United States has been bringing in large numbers of workers on temporary visas such as the H-1B, but it never increased the numbers of permanent-resident visas (“green cards”) available for those who want to stay. There are 140,000 green cards issued per year to employment-based visa holders, and the law stipulates that each nationality may receive no more than 7 percent of the total number of employment-based green cards. My research team documented in 2007 that this limitation had trapped more than 1 million skilled immigrants and their families in immigration limbo. The Cato Institute found that number to be unchanged in 2020 and forecast that the backlog would increase to 2.4 million by 2030. Today, skilled Indian workers make up 75 percent of the employment-based backlog, and those who recently arrived face a wait of 90 years.

Technically, any H-1B worker can change jobs by filing a petition with the government, and some do take advantage of this rule. But there is a catch: The H-1B visa allows a path to permanent residency only when an employer sponsors a worker. And this is the carrot employers offer, one that most people coming to the United States want. Once they accept this carrot, they are trapped in immigration limbo because they can only change sponsoring employers or take new jobs at their current companies if the new job is in the same category and at the same level as the old one—otherwise, they risk losing their status or having to reapply. Most don’t take the risk. Therefore, visa holders shun promotions and changes in their job descriptions, leading to stagnating careers and lower salaries than they could otherwise make.

Opponents of the H-1B visa are correct in claiming that the visa disadvantages American workers, who are effectively competing with bonded labor. To the would-be immigrants, this indentured servitude is compounded by the employment restrictions that their spouses now face once again: The H-4 visas that permit them employment have also been suspended by Trump.

The overall problem could be fixed if the number of permanent-resident visas available for skilled workers was increased and the wait times decreased dramatically. But that is not going to happen in this era of pandemics and xenophobia. The most realistic solution is to untether the visa holder from the hiring company. In other words, allow an employee who enters the country on an H-1B visa and gets an offer of a higher salary to change jobs regardless of the status of his or her green-card application—without cumbersome additional paperwork. This way there’s no cheap labor anymore, and market forces take over. And, of course, the spouses of H-1B workers must not be prevented from working; no civilized society can place such restrictions on a group that is mostly women.

Technology companies don’t propose such a fix because it would cause them to lose power over the employee. Politicians won’t propose such legislation because it is not what tech-industry lobbyists want. Instead, we get a series of convoluted proposals that increase the role of government and disadvantage all workers, both American and foreign—and create the immigrant exodus.

Sadly, there is unemployment in the tech industry, and there are many heart-breaking cases of Americans being displaced by cheap foreign labor. This is not an acceptable situation, and it is why smart immigration reform would fix the salary disadvantage. Having more highly skilled, job-creating immigrants will lead to more innovation and more jobs. It will make the economic pie bigger for everyone.

The key to competitiveness is to allow the tech industry to hire the best talent, no matter where it comes from. The economy thrives on competition of every form, including technology and skill. Attacking immigrants and demanding that companies hire Americans over people who are more skilled, as Trump is doing, is the fastest way to destroy the United States’ remaining competitive advantages—and prolong the recession.

Vivek Wadhwa is a distinguished fellow and professor, Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, Silicon Valley.

This article was republished with permission from the author and can be originally found here.

Public Charge Can Affect Your Benefits

Punishing Low-Income Immigrants With The Recent Changes To Public Charge

Our federal immigration laws have long been controversial. However, within the past few years, there have been numerous contentious changes to immigration law as part of the federal administration’s clampdown on immigration. One insidious change, in particular, has been to the public charge rule.

Public charge is an immigration rule that federal authorities use to decide whether certain immigrants will be a financial burden on the government. Because of public charge, some immigrants worry that their immigration status can be negatively impacted by getting certain public benefits from the government. 

Along with the recent rule change, there has also been an unfortunate amount of misinformation and fear in the community about public charge. There has been a chilling effect with immigrant families, including those not actually subject to the public charge rule, with many choosing to disenroll or to not enroll for public benefits to avoid jeopardizing their immigration status. 

Our communities need to fight misinformation with knowledge, and fear with power. To do that, we must all remember that public charge does not apply to all immigrants and it does not apply to all public benefits. 

What Exactly Is Public Charge?

The public charge rule applies when a non-citizen seeks to enter the U.S. or to adjust to lawful permanent resident status (ie. apply for a green card). It does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to many types of immigrants. Legal permanent residents with green cards already should not be impacted by public charge unless they travel outside of the United States for six months or longer and then return.

In addition, public charge does not apply to asylees, refugees, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) applicants, people who have or are applying for U-visas as victims of crime, T-visas for human trafficking survivors, special immigrant juveniles (SIJS) and other immigrants with certain types of humanitarian immigration statuses.

The public charge test looks at a totality of the circumstances and weighs many factors to decide if an immigrant will be a public charge. This includes looking at someone’s age, health, family size, education, skills, and whether the immigrant has an affidavit of support. The receipt of certain types of public benefits by the applicant directly is only one factor in this test.

Traditionally, public benefits that count towards public charge include those that provide cash assistance, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), CalWORKs, General Assistance, and long-term institutional care at government expense.

However, under recent changes to public charge, the federal government has expanded the list of public benefits impacted for green card applications filed on or after February 24, 2020. The new rule looks at whether or not an immigrant receives one or more certain public benefits “for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).” The rule is not retroactive, so applications filed before February 24, 2020 will be considered under the old rule that claimed only cash assistance and long-term institutional care at government expense.

In addition to cash aid and long-term institutional care at government expense, the new post-February 24, 2020 public charge rule now will also include federally funded Medi-Cal (with exceptions for state-funded Medi-Cal, emergency services, children under 21, pregnant women, new mothers and COVID-19 related care), federally-funded CalFresh, federal public housing, Section 8 vouchers and project-based Section 8. Although these public benefits programs have been added to the new public charge rule, most immigrants who face a public charge test don’t get the benefits that could be potentially problematic for public charge. Public charge also only considers whether or not the immigrant applying for a green card directly receives one of the impacted public benefits, not other family or household members.

Conversely, this also means that other public benefits and assistance programs will not have a public charge impact. This includes exceptions to Medi-Cal like emergency Medi-Cal, pregnancy Medi-Cal, state-funded Medi-Cal (like for undocumented youth 21-26), Medi-Cal for children up to age 21. This also includes other programs like California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC),  Social Security retirement, Medicare, unemployment insurance benefits (UIB), school meal programs, earned income and child tax credits, crime victim compensation, energy assistance programs, disaster relief programs and non-cash assistance state/local programs. For COVID-19 specifically, testing, treatment, and preventative care (including a potential future vaccine) will not count towards public charge.

It’s Okay To Ask Questions and Seek Help

Public charge does not apply to all immigrants or to all public benefits. Immigrants should continue to seek the public benefits and care they need to keep themselves and their families safe during this difficult time. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still causing havoc, receiving proper health care, including through Medi-Cal, is more important now than ever. However, everyone’s situation is different and you should speak to an attorney qualified in both immigration and public benefits law if you are concerned about a potential public charge impact for you or your family.

Together, we can fight the fear and misinformation around public charge, empower our communities, and counter the chilling effect impacting so many low-income and immigrant families.

Nghi Huynh is a staff attorney with the Asian Law Alliance, a nonprofit community law office that has served the low-income and AAPI community of Santa Clara County for over 42 years. 

Immigration in Limbo, H-1B Holders File Patents

In this pandemic epoch of coronavirus, our H-1B workers respond to the national emergency. Around 3,310 biochemists and other scientists have worked together to develop a coronavirus vaccine through the H-1B program. 

Reflect and ponder. How can you imagine an America without them?

The proportion of H-1B workers to American companies has doubled its production rate due to workers’ ability to create new products and replace outdated ones. The product reallocation grows more revenue as a result.

However, the H-1B program is limited by immigration policies such as the H-1B visa lottery and the “Buy American, Hire American” policy. This cynical atmosphere of embracing diversity leads to difficulties in patenting an invention. HB-1 workers are leading the nation to promote mass scientific innovations. Yet, they have difficulties in filing patents caused by political and economic changes. 

Who are H-1B Visa Holders?

H1-B Visa Holders are immigrants who work in the United States under a “specialty occupation.” As provided by law, a person is required to have a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. 

H-1B employees can work for no more than six years. If an employee was contracted for less than six months or if an employee successfully obtained a Green Card, then the six-year limit does not apply.

Recent statistics show that H-1B workers occupy nearly two-thirds of STEM professions.

H-1B visa lottery has affected the status of immigrant workers

On March 31st, 2020 the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) revealed that significant numbers of H-1B visa applications were denied due to a system glitch.

USCIS has not yet offered a remedy. It becomes clear that the H-1B lottery fails to provide an alternative system, affecting the livelihood of foreign applicants and beneficiaries.

President Trump’s “Buy America, Hire American” policy has added a burden to the status quo

The tightened policy ordered the Department of Homeland Security to issue H-1B visas to only the most-skilled or highest-paid workers. As a result, USCIS has increased H-1B visa denials and the number of Requests for Evidence to H-1B applicants.

Due to this immigrant policy shift, thousands of companies have lost their foreign employees.

Today, Indian Americans have experienced unfortunate situations due to their H-1B visa status – many have had their visas denied and are left unemployed.

H-1B workers are given a 60 days period to find another job. 

There is no guarantee that they can be hired in a fast and demanding environment. Unemployed H-1B workers have difficulty obtaining visas, making them an illegal resident in the U.S. As the government limits their potential economic contributions, the H-1B visa holders’ chances of patenting an invention become complex and bureaucratic.

Importance of a Patent Attorney

H1-B workers are leading the overall innovation in the American economy. 

Immigrant workers have contributed to designing machines, developing software applications, proposing business methods, and improving healthcare. 

The inventions of H-1B workers should be safeguarded in terms of its ownership, exclusive rights, and competitive advantage by hiring a patent attorney. 

For valuable reasons, hiring a patent attorney helps an H-1B worker in providing legal advice on how to get a patent, conducting a prior art search for marketability, and patentability of an invention, performing patent infringement, securing an economical patent cost, and litigating future cases in the proper court. 

J.D. Houvener, a San Francisco Patent Attorney, emphasizes the substantial need of hiring a patent attorney:

“In filing a patent application, always consider the professional guidance of a patent attorney. A patent attorney provides a clear understanding of a Patent Law and the complex process of a patent process. By hiring a patent attorney, you get things done right and give you the best benefit you need.”

Conclusion

The difficulties of filing patents as an H-1B visa holder, perhaps, are a call to amend these policies for the permanence and stability of our immigrant workers.

To make America successful, the government should uncap the number of H-1B visas and liberalize the security of getting green cards for immigrant workers. If the administration won’t make a move, great scientific innovations will be at stake.

As immigration policies might have tightened the rope of filing a patent, a patent attorney is always ready to lose the tension in the hopes of innovation and invention.

Rei Lantion is a graduate from Ateneo de Manila University and is an aspiring IP attorney. Professionally, she has a great deal of experience in writing, editing in patent law, working one-on-one with patent attorneys. When she’s not writing she loves playing D&D with her dog Oreo.

Is Citizenship By Investment The Answer To Our Woes?

Congress created the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. 

You may have heard  that the EB-5, as a faster option to a Green Card, accelerated US permanent residency. Foreign students, who have forked out thousands of dollars on their US education, enquire about it as their ticket to stay on in the US.  In the post COVID-19 world, immigrant workers, faced with the threat of unemployment, may well have their eye on it. Promoters of the EB-5 program routinely target H-1B workers in their recruitment efforts.

Is the Immigration Investor Visa Program also known as the EB-5 visa an efficient track to citizenship?

EB-5, one of five employment-based (EB) visas, is not banned under President Trump’s proclamation limiting immigration into the United States. The EB-5 program allots green cards to foreign investors in exchange for their investments.

An undertaking to create at least 10 American jobs and invest $1.8 million individually into a business makes you eligible to apply. However, in case you don’t want to manage the business you don’t have to.

Eligible investors must finance $900,000 in an approved commercial real estate project in a targeted employment area (TEA) and demonstrate, through economic analysis, that the resulting economic development will create jobs. An area is declared a targeted employment area (TEA), by the central government based on its rural nature or lower levels of employment. Regional centers (RC) connect foreign investors with commercial real estate developers in need of funding.  These  projects result in jobs through construction work at first and eventually in the service industry, for example in hotels, restaurants, resorts and stadium development.

Once the money has been received by the US business entity you have promised to invest in, you are on your way to applying for a green card. Two years after the receipt of the conditional green card, proof of employment creation has to be produced. Given the present wait times, it will take 7 or more years for the visa to come through if the country of your birth is India.

The number of EB-5 visas allotted to Indians rose as more people got to know of the visa and applications went up. In 2019 more than 705 visas were allotted to people born in India. 

Annually, 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued, with a 7% per country cap (700 per country). For 2020, the Department of State has allocated 11,111 visas to EB-5 in FY2020, of which any one country can get up to 778 visas (7%) under the country caps.

Due to a rush in applications last year, 2020 also has an unusually long list of applicants. In November 2019 the investment amounts were increased from $1 million to $1.8 million and from $500,000 to $900,000. As word spread people rushed to get their applications in before the increase kicked in, as further delaying  wait times.

Barron’s reported that the program generated around $5 billion a year for 10,000 visas. For the EB-5 visa aspirants the more attractive EB-5 offerings have offered less than 1% per annum as a rate of return on capital invested by them, say Shai Zamanian and Dina Golfaridan, of The American Legal Center of Dubai.

Thirty four percent of those who received EB-5 visas in FY19 were already living in the U.S. They maintained their status in the US on another visa category and then petitioned to adjust status. The majority of EB-5 visas (42%) went to children.   

The practitioners of EB-5 visa are a bit disappointed with the present state of the program. Long waits in the application process, high initial investments, and limited TEA areas dull the shine of this road to residency. 

“EB-5 visa has a lot of challenges in addition to the COVID-19 situation. Major problem it faces is the long wait times and high minimum application investment amounts of 900,000 to 1.8 million,” says Suzanne Lazicki, a business plan writer for EB-5 applicants and EB-5 expert.

Additionally, as per her analysis of the EB-5 marketplace, processing of the applications has been slower. From 5000 processed in 2018, the number has dropped to below 1000 in 2019.  

“Limited number of areas qualify for the TEA designation. A smaller percentage of people can therefore use the program,” says Suzanne. 

On the plus side,” she says,” it is exempted from restrictions in the executive order.  To see the steps involved in applying for the visa click here.

Shai Zamanian and Dina Golfaridan of The American Legal Center of Dubai contend that during the Great Recession the EB-5 program provided an alternative source of funding and job creation for the US economy. They make the argument to enhance the EB-5 program as an answer to COVID-19 woes. With 22 million Americans filing for unemployment as of April 2020 and the urgent need for investment, they argue that boosting the program as a stimulus tool could  stave off the effects of COVID-19. Revised EB-5 program, with lower requisite investment amounts, would make it a successful financial tool in alleviating the current financial downturn and its aftermath they say.