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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
POSTING DATE: JANUARY 25, 2016
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2016
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Questions & Answers
Question: I am from Venezuela and my wife has dual citizenship from Venezuela & Colombia. We have a son age 17 and daughter age 19 who will be 20 in June 2016. We came to the U.S. to look for business opportunities over the New Years holiday and have seen a few options we want to consider. But first, we want to find out about a visa before making the next step. Due to the problems in Venezuela, we have sold most of what we have and are just renting an apartment. We have about $650,000USD to invest in a business and buy a small condo in Miami. We’d like to know how much we would need to invest to get an visa for the family and whether we can get our green cards by our investment.
Answer: Since your wife has dual nationality, here are several immigration visa options available for Investors who desire to start their own U.S. business or to make an investment in the U.S. and obtain a Green Card. Here’s a rundown of the two types of “Investor” visas:
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa (Non-Immigrant): The E-2 Visa for Colombians (and nationals of other E-2 Treaty countries, but not Venezuela) provides a great Visa for foreign investors to live in the U.S. and run their own business. Another benefit is that spouses are issued Work Permits. The U.S. Consulate in Bogota issues E-2 Visas for up to five years, renewable every 4 ½ years. E-2 Visas issued inside the U.S. are for 2 year extendable periods, but they do not provide an actual visa which allows travel, which can be inconvenient.E-2 Visas require an investment in and ownership of at least 50% of a new or existing U.S. company. A very safe minimum investment, with a high likelihood for approval, would be $100,000 USD or higher. Lesser investment amounts are eligible, but can be more difficult to obtain approval.
Eligible investments generally do not include real estate investments alone or home businesses and should be a business type which will employ one or more U.S. workers.
However, even with all its other great benefits, the E-2 Visa does not lead to a Green Card. Because of this, investors who are able to make a higher investment are often much better off going straight to the EB-5 Green Card investment.
The EB-5 Investor Visa (Green Card/Immigrant): The only Investor visa which leads directly to a Green Card through investment is the EB-5 Investor visa, which allows foreign investors to invest $500,000 and receive U.S. Residency (Green Cards) for themselves, their Spouse and all minor Children. This visa also applies to Nationals of all countries including Venezuela, not just those which have Treaties with the U.S.. For investors desiring to operate their own U.S. business, the EB-5 program also allows foreign investors to invest the funds in their own business, in certain economic zones and obtain a Green Card. The investment business is then required to employ 10 U.S. workers for two years in order to obtain a permanent Green Card.
Investors who do not want the hassle of operating their own business also have the option to receive a Green Card by making an investment in a USCIS approved Regional Center. The great benefit of this investment is that once the investment is made, the investor and his family can live, work, operate their own business, retire and do anything they desire in the U.S., while still obtaining a Green Card.
However, the EB-5 visa program will likely change in September 2016 and require a minimum investment of $800,000 for Regional Center and certain targeted areas in the U.S. with high unemployment and $1.2 Million for all other investments.
In your case, since your daughter is 19 going on 20, you would need to act fairly quickly to start the EB-5 process (which currently take 12+ months) in order to ensure that she is able to obtain her Green Card with your family before she turns age 21 and is no longer eligible.
This Week's Immigration News
Supreme Court Agrees to Review President Obama’s Appeal In DACA & DAPA Executive Actions Case
In a highly anticipated decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed last Tuesday to hear the Obama Administration’s appeal of its new DAPA and expanded DACA Executive Actions Case.
With two lower Federal courts having already ruled against allowing President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration to move forward, the Supreme Court’s decision expected later this year in June will determine whether the expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and new DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) programs are allowed to be implemented across the nation, or instead, continue to be put on hold until a lower court trial determines its fate, which could take several years or more.
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get A Copy of My I-94 Card?
If the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides in the Obama Administration’s favor, under the new DAPA program, most parents of a U.S. citizens or residents who have continued to be in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 will be eligible for a Work Permit, Social Security card and Driver’s License among other benefits.
Under the expanded DACA program, Immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16 and who have continued to be in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 and have graduated from a U.S. High School, obtained a certificate of completion or GED certificate or who are still in school, will also be eligible for a Work Permit, Social Security card and Driver’s License among other benefits. Stay tuned…
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
Reporting Abusive Treatment By The USCIS
Thousands of Immigrants receive immigration benefits from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) each year, navigating their way through the often difficult and confusing process.
And while it is expected that Immigrants should be held to the standards of qualification defined by law to demonstrate eligibility, no immigrant should ever expect to be treated discourteously, disrespectfully or in an abusive way by a USCIS Officer or employee.
However, it does happen and when it does, Immigrants do have the right to report mistreatment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS strives to maintain the public’s trust and provide quality services and does investigate credible reports of abuse.
One such incident reported to me recently was from an U.S. Citizen and Immigrant spouse during a marriage interview case wherein the USCIS officer demanded that the U.S. Citizen and Immigrant spouse go to their car and bring him their cell phones. Once they returned with the phones, the officer demanded that they give him the phones and passcodes and he preceded look at all of their personal text messages and cell phone photos. The Citizen and his wife did not consent to this, but frightened, they did as they were demanded to do. None of this is official USCIS procedures and much of what the officer did was a violation of their rights. In cases like these, complaints should be made as soon after the event as possible.
To make a report, you can use one of the following:
Call the DHS Hotline at 1-800-323-8603
Send a fax at (202) 254-4292
File a written complaint to:
Department of Homeland Security
Attn: Office of the Inspector General Hotline
245 Murray Drive, Building 410 Stop: 2600
Washington, D.C. 20528
Be sure to include: 1) the date, time and location of the incident, 2) detailed description of the what happened to you 3) the name(s) of employee(s) involved.
How To Replace A Lost I-94 Card?
An I-94 is a small slip of paper which was, until several years ago, issued to all international visitors and visa holders entering the U.S.. Officially called the Arrival/Departure card, the I-94 contained the date of entry into the U.S. as well as the date by which the individual must depart from the U.S.. Often, individuals do not understand how important this little card is until it is too late.
In order to change immigration status inside the U.S. to any other immigrant or non-immigrant visa status, immigration regulations require that a copy of the I-94 be included with the application to establish eligibility. Foreign nationals must prove that they entered the U.S. legally and were inspected by an immigration officer in order to qualify to file for immigration status in the U.S.. Those who did not enter the U.S. legally are generally not entitled to obtain any new immigration status in the U.S., even when married to a U.S. citizen unless a Waiver is obtained.
If your I-94 card is lost, stolen or seriously damaged, you can apply to replace it by filing Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Arrival-Departure Document. You also may file Form I-102 if you wish to receive a replacement I-94 card with corrected information on it — for example, if the immigration officer spelled your name wrong on the initial I-94 card. The nonrefundable filing fee for Form I-102 is $320. It generally takes about 60 days to receive the I-94 replacement card in the mail.
Under the new electronic I-94 system implemented in 2013, international visitors are no longer issued paper I-94 cards upon entry into the U.S.. Instead, individuals are provided with instructions on accessing their I-94 records online and printing the I-94 card out from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. You can visit the CBP site to print out your paper I-94 cards:
The Sponsoring your family to immigrate to the U.S.
Understanding The Immigrant Visa Process
There are approximately 226,000 visas available each year to be distributed among the various family categories. And because the demand for family sponsored visas each year always far exceeds the number of visas available, the family lines grow longer and longer. A family members “place” in the visa line is determined by the “Priority Date” they were assigned when their U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident family member filed the I-130 application to sponsor them.
The Priority Date is the date the I-130 was filed. So, if you were going to picture it, imagine that once the I-130 petition is filed, the family member is given a ticket with a certain date on it and placed in a line to await his or her date being called. All the individuals ahead of the family member have earlier dates on their tickets, because the I-130 petition was filed by their relative at an earlier time, and those behind them were filed later. So as time goes on, the line moves up and the family member gets closer and closer and while it may take many years, eventually they do get to the front of the line.
Once they reach the front of the line, they obtain their long awaited “Immigrant Visa” from the U.S. Consulate and finally immigrate to the USA.
Keeping track of these visa numbers, Priority Dates and quotas is a complicated matter given to the U.S. Department of State (DOS), which uses data and calculations to predict when a visa will be available in any particular family category in order to establish which date gets to move to the front of the line. The DOS publishes these figures each month in a notice called the “Visa Bulletin” which is available on the DOS website. To complicate matters, not all countries have the same line in the same family categories as others. This is because there is a higher demand for visas from some countries than from others. For instance, the waiting line for an adult, single child (over age 21) of a U.S. Citizen is about 7 years for most countries. However for Mexicans, the wait is over 20 years, due to high demand built up over the years. Because of this, the Visa Bulletin chart categorizes visa availability by dividing is among high demand countries such as China, India, the Philippines & Mexico, then a general worldwide category which everyone else falls into.
And just to confuse the matter further, Visa dates don’t always move forward, sometime to our despair, they actually move backward and go further back in time. This is something called “regression”. It is really important to understand even when a family member’s Priority Date becomes current and he or she is right at the front of the line ready to step up to the window and get their visa, if they are still processing and haven’t yet attended their immigrant appointment, if the Visa Bulletin date regresses, they must go back and get in the line again and wait until their date is called again.
While complicated, the reason for this is that the DOS publishes the Visa Bulletin based upon data predictions of how many visas will be used and when a visa will be available.
So to try to make some sense of it, if the prediction is that 1,000 family members (including their dependents) in the line ahead would be issued visas, but instead, those family members had more dependents than predicted, so they had to actually issue 1,500 visas, then that will delay those waiting in the line behind.
As a result, once a family member is notified by the National Visa Center (NVC) that it is time to start processing for the final phase of immigration, family members and sponsors should avoid delay and quickly provide the required information and financial documentation to the NVC in order to obtain their immigrant visa as soon as possible….in case the line regresses. Good luck!
How Long Will It Take? Understanding Family Sponsored Immigration Visas, Priority Dates and the Visa Bulletin
Family immigration can often seem like a very confusing, mysterious process that makes little sense and takes many years to accomplish. And while it is frustrating to wait so many years in the process, it’s beneficial to have a good understanding of what the process is and why it may takes so long for a family member to immigrate to the U.S..
All family members (with the exception of “Immediate Relatives” who are Spouses, Minor Children and Parents of U.S. Citizens), who are sponsored to immigrate to the U.S. to obtain Permanent Residence (the “green card”) must go through the U.S. visa quota system. The visa quota system is essentially a series of long lines for each family category, all waiting for a visa to become available.