Surge in L-1A’s from China
The EB-5, a controversial federal immigration program that offers green cards to foreign investors had record demand in 2015. The EB-5 program offers green cards to aspiring immigrants who invest at least $500,000 into certain businesses that have been determined to create at least 10 jobs per investor. Typically each investor secures two to three visas, including family members. The EB-5 program received applications from 17,691 investors in 2015, up from 11,744 in 2014 and 6,554 in 2013, according to figures released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In total, there were 21,988 investor applications pending at year-end, and given that the program allows just 10,000 visas a year, that means a massive backlog was created of at least five years for most investors. In addition, there was a drop-off in demand because of the slowing economy in China, which accounts for more than 80% of the reason that EB-5 visas were being issued. This huge backlog created a visible surge in another popular visa, the L-1 program.
The L-1 intra-company transferee visa is designed in order to allow a company doing business in a Country like China to open or acquire an American subsidiary location, and transfer vital employees to operate and manage the business in the United States. The idea being that the employees can obtain L-1 visas if they qualify. An L-1a visa applicant must have worked at least one complete, continuous year during the previous three years for the foreign business that is transferring him/her to the U.S.
In the current stage of FY2016, the USCIS has received well over 120,000 L1 petitions. This number is almost double from FY2010. Of the 120,000 L1 petitions this year, over 40,000 are from China alone. This is a strong indicator of the effect that the EB5 backlog has had on the confidence of Chinese foreign investors and their faith in the strength of the EB-5 program. With approval rates around 75% and no visible backlog to date, the Chinese are scurrying to this attractive visa trend. However, with current numbers and their upward drift, this visa option is sure to be backlogged relatively soon as well, and new visa options will have to become considered.
The team at Buda Law Group can guide and represent employers in the preparation of individual and blanket L-1 petitions. Our attorneys can consult with companies considering or initiating the establishment of new offices in the United States with regard to L-1 related planning for staffing a new office. Finally, we are available to consult with both employers and employees to discuss their options and responsibilities within the L-1 category.
John B. Buda, Esq.
1201 W. Huntington Dr. Suite 209
Arcadia, CA 91007