Washington DC, June 2, 2019 – The American Immigration Lawyers Association recently spoke to Charlie Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections, beyond the basic visa availability updates provided in the monthly Visa Bulletin.
Mr. Oppenheim re-confirmed previous predictions for the EB-5 visa category for Indian nationals. India will reach its per country visa limit and a visa waitlist for Indian-born individuals will begin in July of 2019 with an initial Final Action Date (cut-off date) in 2017. For August and September of 2019, the category will retrogress to share the same final action date as EB-5 China (October 1st, 2014).
This update comes on the heels of the DOS’ recent prediction of an increased total wait time for Indian nationals to receive their conditional green through the EB-5 program, up from 5 years to 8 years. The DOS did recognize that its projections are “worst-case scenarios” based on new and pending I-526 petition filing as well as an estimated number of accompanying family members for each investor.
In terms of the EB-1 green card category, the DOS predicts that EB-1 India cut-off date will not advance again this fiscal year. In October of 2019, the category should return to a final action date of February 22, 2017. The DOS predicts that EB-1 China will advance to May 8, 2017 in the July 2019 visa bulletin. The EB-1 Worldwide category which currently has a final action date of April 22, 2018, is not anticipated to become “Current” in the foreseeable future.
Donoso & Associates, LLC, is a law firm based in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a leading immigration law firm with recognized expertise in visas for EB-5 investors, professionals and academics.
This month, our law firm, together with Co-Counsel Louis A Gordon, won a major victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case impacts many immigrants who have suffered from bad or ineffective advice from prior Counsel. The Court in its published decision, Flores v Barr, overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling which denied our client, the Petitioner, the opportunity to have his case reopened because of ineffective assistance of his prior immigration lawyer.
Investors and EB5 industry professionals have been anxiously waiting for the publication of a final regulation regarding the EB5 Program. USCIS has now published the final regulation which modifies the proposed rule which was announced in February this year.
New Zealand citizens can now obtain E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas to work in the U.S. These categories, which allow up to 2 years’ renewable stay, are determined by trade treaties secured between the U.S. and the foreign country or by Congressional legislation.
Citizens of New Zealand who are already inside the U.S. may file Form I-129 to change status – a spouse or child of such an applicant should file Form I-539 to change status to match the E-category applicant.
The latest Visa Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) earlier this month, confirms industry predictions of a waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 investors. Starting in July 2019, EB-5 visas will be available only to those Indian-born investors who filed their petitions before 05/01/2017. This cut-off date creates a waiting list of approximately two years, which is significantly shorter than the waiting list currently facing mainland Chinese-born investors, which currently stretches back to 10/01/2014.
Starting June 10, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume Premium Processing for all remaining H-1B petitions. This completes a trial arrangement whereby USCIS allowed limited Premium Processing starting May 20 for H-1B petitions with a Change of Status. The approach was introduced after recent years eliminated Premium Processing altogether, resulting in lengthy delays, with some H-1B petitions remaining under adjudication even after the usual annual start date of October 1.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a caution on June 4, 2019, stating that H-1B petitions will be rejected if they fail to include names and addresses on Part 1 of Form I-129. Specifically, applicants are cautioned not to list outside counsel, clients, or other third parties, in such fields requesting the names and addresses of the petitioning U.S. employer. This measure, which goes into effect starting August 5, 2019, comes as part of the current administration’s moves to raise barriers to entry for the H-1B category overall.