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  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter

  POSTING DATE: May 8,  2017
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2017 
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: or  call our office at: (954) 382-5378
Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

Investor Visa Program Extended Without Change 
                                      Until September 30, 2017
A recent government funding bill has reauthorized (extended) the Investor Visa Program for Green Cards (called EB-5) temporarily until September 30, 2017, along with most other current government programs. Congress is expected to make changes to the EB-5 program when it comes up again in September or later in the year, but there is still no certainty about what exact provision will be adopted as part of the program’s overall. 

The EB-5 program allows qualifying investors to invest a minimum of $500,000.00 in an investment regional center or in creating a new business (which must be located in one of the high unemployment areas designated within states) or $1 Million in any area in the country, as long as 10 new fulltime jobs are created. Stay tuned.
Understanding The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa – 
Cheap Alternative To The EB-5 Visa
Question: I got my 2 yr green card through my wife who is a us citizen. We then filed for my permanent residency last year in oct 2016 but have not got the approval yet. I did my fingerprints in nov 2016. We are very worried that there is something wrong with the case because it is taking so long. We called the immigration 800 number and they said they would do a query, but never heard back. My green card will expire soon, will I be illegal? What about the HR dept at the company I work for, they want to see my new green card to make sure I am legal to work. Is there something you can do to get the case approved for us? Thanks.
Answer: That is a very common question lately. Applications to remove conditions on residency to obtain permanent Green Cards for spouses (Form I-751) are generally taking more than a year for USCIS processing. And as incredible as it seems, there is no option available to expedite these cases. Its important to know that the initial receipt that conditional residents receive (called form I-797 Notice of Action) automatically extends residency status for a year. However, many employers and other government agencies do not recognize this.  

My advice to Conditional Residents is this: first, don’t be concerned that your case has been pending so long 8-12 months, that is now the normal processing time. Second, once you are a month or so away from expiration of your one year extension receipt date, you can go online to the Infopass website and make an appointment at your local USCIS office to get a residency extension stamp, called an I-551 in your passport. Bring your 1) Infopass Appointment Notice 2) I-797 Notice of Action receipt and 3) passport. Your residency should be extended for up a year. Finally, if you receive a USCIS request for more documentary evidence to prove that your marriage is real, take it very seriously. Most couples who file form I-751 do not realize how serious the process is and have no idea of the kind of documentary evidence the USCIS expects to be submitted. As a consequence, many couples simply enclose copies of recent tax returns, bills and bank statements for the past month. These submissions will not meet USCIS requirements and often result in even longer delays in processing(up to an additional 3-6 months or more) and in many cases, a USCIS interview at the local office, which is not usually required for well documented cases. 

My job as an Immigration attorney often involves representing new clients in rectifying poorly documented I-751 applications for removal of conditions they filed by themselves, once they come to me with a multiple page request they received from the USCIS Service Center requesting every marital document under the sun or in representing them at a USCIS interview scheduled at their local office.

The key to success in these types of cases, is of course filing the initial application properly, with extensive documentation of the marriage from the time the foreign spouse received the conditional green card. That means twenty one (21) months of joint tax returns/W-2’s, joint leases (or property title), joint bank accounts (every single page for every month), joint car insurance (for every year), joint utility bills (for every month), Drivers Licenses showing the same address, etc. Affidavits referred to in the I-751 form instructions are really not necessary if you have enough marital documentation to prove to the USCIS that you and your U.S. Citizen spouse continue to live together and if you only submit the Affidavits, your case will almost certainly be sent to your local office for an Interview. 

Once a request for evidence is issued by the USCIS, the second chance of success is to provide the USCIS officer with all the (above) documents from the time the green card was received to the date of the request. However, in some cases, couples have not understood the importance of marital documentation and simply do not have many joint marital items together. For instance, they don’t file joint tax returns together, don’t share a joint bank account, don’t have car insurance together, don’t have a lease because they live with relatives, don’t have the same address on their Driver’s Licenses. These are all big RED FLAGS for officers of a fake marriage and it can be a real uphill battle to prove to a USCIS officer at the interview that the couple’s marriage is in fact real. However, it can be done, and I have had great success, even for couples with the most challenging cases.

To answer your question, in your case, since you filed the I-751 in October 2016, you should receive either an approval or request for more evidence by the same time this year. If you do receive a request for additional evidence, I can represent you in providing the USCIS with the required documentary evidence and if required, at a USCIS interview at your local office. I hope this was helpful to you.

Updating Your Social Security Records
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a little known, but perfect visa option for many foreign investors who want to open a new business or buy an existing one in the U.S.. For qualifying investors, the E-2 is a low cost alternative to the $1 Million dollar EB-5 visa, which allows both the Investor and their immediate family members to live, work and attend school in the U.S., while operating their own business. 

When Immigrants hear “Investor visa”, they usually think of the high cost EB-5 Investor Visa, when in reality, a successful E-2 visa can be obtained for up to five years (renewable) by investing around $100,000 in your own business. 
A wide range of business types qualify under the E-2, including start-up, franchises and existing businesses. One of the only few requirements is that the business enterprise must be operated from a commercial location (not a home) and it must create new jobs or preserve the jobs of existing employees. However, not all business types qualify, specifically because some investments, for like those in real estate do not generate jobs.

 To qualify, an investor must be a national of one of the treaty countries on the State Department list that has an E-2 treaty with the U.S.. Dual nationality qualifies as well, for instance where a national of Venezuela would not qualify, but if he or she holds a Spanish or Italian passport as well, would. 

Find out more about the E-2 Treaty Trader Visa

Which countries qualify for E-2 Visa 
To change your records, go to your nearest Social Security card and take your current card, U.S. Residency card, Driver’s License (if applicable) or valid Passport. The Officer will change your records in the system to reflect your new status and order a new Social Security card which does not have any restrictions. To learn more about changing your Social Security records, click on the link below:

Social Security Records Change
Immigration How To:
How Do I know Whether It’s a Scam?
For every government benefit, there are an equal number of scams designed to take advantage of innocent victims who believe they are eligible for a benefit or fearful of a government penalty. Immigration is no exception and in fact, is one of the most often victimized groups, since Immigrants often do not understand the law and how the systems works - a fact that scammers take full advantage of. 
Common Immigration Scams You Should Avoid Falling Victim To:
I commonly hear stories from many Immigrants who come to me after being scammed, and in almost every instance they tell me that in their heart, they knew something was wrong, but they simply did not listen! We can all learn from that. 

Click on the links below to read some good information about common scams to avoid:

USCIS Scam Warning
Fake IRS Scam

For every government benefit, there are an equal number of scams designed to take advantage of innocent victims who believe they are eligible for a benefit or fearful of a government penalty. Immigration is no exception and in fact, is one of the most often victimized groups, since Immigrants often do not understand the law and how the systems works - a fact that scammers take full advantage of. 

My best advice is always to follow the wisdom our parents told us: “if it sounds too good to be true – it is”. Another important thing to remember is to follow your instincts. Whether threatened with extortion for money from a fake government employee or promised a Green Card or other immigration benefits for a large fee - which you have been advised you were not entitled to, stop and think, do your research, don’t get caught up in the excitement and become a victim.