USCIS administers the EB-5 program, created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a program initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly reauthorized since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. On February 9, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-123; extending the Regional Center Program through March 23, 2018.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced a bill Thursday that would vastly increase the number of H-1B visas available and ease restrictions on the issuance of green cards to foreign workers.
The bill, also sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., would bring relief to the Bay Area’s large community of immigrants working at startups and big tech companies, many of whom rely on the H-1B visa, as well as their employers, who have quietly lobbied for years for an expansion of the program.
Stopgap Bill to End Government Shutdown Passes Congress (January 22, 2018) and signed by Trump
Trump signed a short-term funding bill Congress passed on Monday, officially ending the three-day federal government shutdown.
The key vote came in the Senate, where most members supported a key procedural vote to let the funding bill proceed without a filibuster. The cloture vote easily cleared the 60-vote threshold with a final vote of 81 to 18. Two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, voted against the measure, as did 16 Democrats.
The deal will keep the government funded until February 8, eight days earlier than the date in the House-passed funding bill that the Senate rejected on Friday.
The final bill passed in the Senate a few hours later with the same vote as the cloture measure. The delay between the cloture vote and the final vote was due to members working out language that will allow federal workers to receive back-pay for the days the government was closed, per reports.
The House then agreed to the deal, passing the measure shortly after the Senate by a vote of 266 to 150. 45 Democrats voted for the funding bill, while six Republicans crossed party lines to vote no.
The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. government does not affect USCIS’ fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open, and all applicants should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled.
However, several USCIS programs will either expire or suspend operations, or be otherwise affected, until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress. These include:
- EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. Regional centers are a public or private economic unit in the United States that promote economic growth. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program.
- E-Verify. This free internet-based system allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
- Conrad 30 J-1 doctors. This program allows J-1 doctors to apply for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement after completing the J-1 exchange visitor program. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the United States; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.
- Non-minister religious workers. This special immigrant category allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust status in the United States to perform religious work in a full-time, compensated position.
Generally, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but "essential" personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.
- January 21, 2018 Update: USCIS has confirmed that DACA renewal processing will continue.
DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and "life or death" emergencies.
CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.
ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
EOIR: EOIR's detained docket is typically considered an essential function and would therefore continue to operate. During the 2013 shutdown, EOIR continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases.
**DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold. - This means no labor certification processing until the government shutdown is over.
CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.
USCIS - On February 12, 2018, the Texas Service Center (TSC) will begin processing certain Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker petitions for L nonimmigrant classification, also known as L visas. The TSC will share this workload with the California Service Center to balance workloads and to provide flexibility as USCIS works towards improving processing times and efficiency. The Vermont Service Center will no longer process any new Form I‑129 petitions requesting L nonimmigrant classification.
Petitioners requesting an L nonimmigrant classification should file their Form I-129 at the address indicated on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker page. Starting March 12, 2018, USCIS may reject any of these applications that are filed at the wrong service center.
**which includes the EB-5 Program extension to January 19, 2018
WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation to keep the government funded into January, averting a government shutdown this weekend but kicking fights over issues like immigration, surveillance and health care into the new year.
The stopgap spending bill extends government funding until Jan. 19 while also providing a short-term funding fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose financing lapsed at the end of September.
A scientist recruited by the renowned Cleveland Clinic is stuck in India because his visa is delayed. An entrepreneur courted by Silicon Valley companies had his application denied. Many green card applicants have new interviews to pass.
The Trump administration has pursued its immigration agenda loudly and noticeably, ramping up arrests of undocumented immigrants, barring most travel from several majority-Muslim countries and pressing the case for a border wall.
But it has also quietly, and with much less resistance, slowed many forms of legal immigration without the need for Congress to rescind a single visa program enshrined in the law.
A Rule by the Homeland Security Department on 1/17/2017
This final rule amends Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations to implement the Secretary of Homeland Security's discretionary parole authority in order to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States. The final rule adds new regulatory provisions guiding the use of parole on a case-by-case basis with respect to entrepreneurs of start-up entities who can demonstrate through evidence of substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States. Such potential would be indicated by, among other things, the receipt of significant capital investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments, or obtaining significant awards or grants from certain Federal, State or local government entities. If granted, parole would provide a temporary initial stay of up to 30 months (which may be extended by up to an additional 30 months) to facilitate the applicant's ability to oversee and grow his or her start-up entity in the United States.
This final rule is effective July 17, 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:
• Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
• Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.
“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”
The Ninth Circuit issued an order staying the district court's 10/20/17 preliminary injunction against entry restrictions on nationals of six Muslim-majority countries, except as to foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. People with a qualifying family relationship include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. A qualifying relationship with an entity must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading Presidential Proclamation 9645. The district court did not enjoin the Presidential Proclamation's entry restrictions against nationals of North Korea and certain nationals of Venezuela, and the travel ban remains in effect for those countries as originally stated in Presidential Proclamation 9645