Hot on the heels of its successful outreach programs in Los Angeles and Chicago, the USCIS has most recently partnered up with Nashville, Tennessee to help permanent residents in their journey toward U.S. citizenship, by strengthening the citizenship education efforts in Metro Nashville. Currently, Tennessee is one of the highest ranked Southern states of immigrants. Thousands of immigrants and refugees settle into Nashville and Middle, Tennessee to begin their new lives in America. The goal of the partnership outreach programs is to facilitate immigrant integration into the community. One way the partnership has sought to achieve this goal is through seeking the help of the Nashville Public Library and creating the “New American Corner” program. The “New American Corner” is an integration resource for aspiring immigrants. The program is held in five public libraries and four community centers where resources such as English as a Second Language classes and classes to prepare aspiring citizens for the naturalization test and interviews. The immigrants, without undue financial burden, learn how to write and speak English at an accelerated rate and are well prepared for the naturalization process. The instructors distribute aspiring citizens with naturalization material like the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and important dates in history for aspiring citizens to not only successfully pass the naturalization test, but to also understand the history of the United Stated and the rights and responsibilities given to them as United States citizens.
As the partnership between the USCIS and Metro Government continues to grow, the program will establish a platform of information for all aspiring citizens. This will include providing immigrants with information about: (1) the most current U.S. Citizenship information, (2) false immigration service scams, (3) naturalization information sessions in the community, and (4) the various naturalization requirements for aspiring citizens who want to get permanent residency through EB1 or EB2.
Through the USCIS partnership in Los Angeles, the rate of aspiring citizens who have passed the naturalization interview and test on their first attempt has increased substantially. This in turn helps immigrants integrate in their communities more easily and feel more connected and at home in the United States. While the programs the USCIS is implementing are extremely successful with helping immigrants learn the fundamentals of gaining citizenship, it is nevertheless imperative to seek qualified legal assistance in order to choose the best visa option available for your respective needs. The application process is often overwhelming due to specific requirements and numerous nuances.
Thus, whether you are seeking temporary or permanent residency as an O, EB1, EB2/NIW, or any other type of visa applicant, Buda Law Group’s professional and experienced team will help guide you every step of the way. Call us now to discuss your goals and how our team can assist you in reaching them.John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405
Buda Law Group has recently had a lot of success with approvals for the EB-2/NIW Entrepreneur Green Card category. This new and unique green card opportunity is extremely valued by its applicants due to the opportunities it offers. Currently, immigrant entrepreneurs are highly limited by their residency restrictions, making it difficult to land angel investors and the like when burdened with the red tape accompanied with traveling overseas. Also, investors are more likely to have faith in a business knowing that its CEO The EB-2 visa allows for the entrepreneur to not be burdened with maintaining a curriculum of education courses required by the F1 visa or the work sponsorship offered by the H1B visa. This unique visa category allows visionaries and entrepreneurs the opportunity to work for themselves, with no boundaries on their dreams, goals, and aspirations.
The EB2/NIW entrepreneur green card visa category shares all of the same common requirements of the regular EB2/NIW visa which is mainly targeted at PhD students. The main requirements are the following: (1) Applicant must seek employment in an area that has intrinsic merit. (2) Applicant must demonstrate that the proposed benefit provided will be national in scope. (3) Applicant must demonstrate that the entrepreneur will serve the national interest to a substantially greater degree than would an available US worker having the same minimum qualifications. The main objective of the application is for the entrepreneur to demonstrate that their new business venture will create jobs for U.S. workers or otherwise enhance the welfare of the United States. For example, the entrepreneur may not be taking a job opportunity from a U.S. worker but instead may be creating new job opportunities for U.S. workers.
The USCIS has finally started to recognize that foreign entrepreneurs are vitally important to the success of the US economy and are providing additional avenues, like the one presented here, to grant permanent residence for them. If you are interested in seeking an EB-2/NIW Entrepreneur visa, please give us a call today for a free consultation. Our experienced team works hard to ensure that your application presents you and your business enterprise in the best light to the USCIS, with the ultimate guarantee of working tirelessly for your approval.
John B. Buda, Esq.www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More
Recently, more and more cases of EB-5 regional center projects are coming to light in a negative way. In order to gain a competitive advantage in the Chinese market, some of these regional centers pay substantial commissions to Chinese emigration agents in China without informing Chinese investors of such commissions. For example, in the recent SEC case of the controversial Chicago Convention Center, it has been alleged that some Chinese emigration agents in China received commissions as high as $125,000 per investor to promote the EB-5 offering in China. As a result of these unfortunate realities, it is particularly important to seek out professional and experienced help when choosing an EB-5 investment option. In securing a sound investment, it is the duty of your advisor to analyze possible exposure to criminal and civil liability under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and other legislation, as well as China’s anti-bribery legislation arising out the payment of such alleged “kickbacks” to Chinese emigration agents.
Because of China’s licensing regime, which excludes foreigners from engaging in immigration work in China, the Chinese emigration agents enjoy an exclusive, monopolistic position in the Chinese market. The only way to determine the ownership structure of a particular Chinese emigration agency is to inspect its Chinese business license and undertake other appropriate due diligence. Chinese emigration agents must submit to a quasi-governmental immigration agency association. In Guangdong Province, the relevant association is called the Guangdong Entry & Exit Immigration Service Association (“Guangdong Immigration Association”). According to Chinese news reports, the current head of one provincial immigrant agency association in China also runs one of the largest emigration agencies in China. In fact, in China, it is quite common for Chinese government officials to wear two hats; they may be both the regulator, and the party regulated. While not technically illegal, this organizational structure is particularly susceptible to corruption.
Thus, even though Chinese emigration agents are not officially an “instrumentality” of the Chinese government under the FCPA, the fact that Chinese EB-5 investors are not informed that the EB-5 offering “subscription fees” and “administrative fees” are allegedly kicked back to the Chinese emigration agents is worrisome since even ostensibly private bribery may still violate the FCPA’s accounting provisions, the Travel Act, anti-money laundering laws, and other federal or foreign laws.
Buda Law Group has handled many EB-5 cases and screened hundreds of offerings to pick only the most trustworthy and financially stable options. We do our best to ensure that our investors are not only approved, but are making returns on their investments!
If you are interested in seeking an EB-5 visa and/or are looking for a sound investment option, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our experienced team works hard to ensure full transparency of your investment, with the ultimate goal of achieving maximum returns both fiscally and ethically.
John B. Buda, Esq.
www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More
Marriage or Fiance Visa – Chinese Citizen Immigration to United States – Q&A with Attorney John Buda
What is the faster processing time this Spring 2014, Fiancé or Marriage Visa with a Chinese Citizen?
Generally speaking, the Fiancé visa has been faster than the Marriage Visa for about the last 12 months. Marriage visa were said to be delayed most of 2013 because of Dream Act Applications that started in late 2012. Right now, my best estimate of the Marriage Visa with a Chinese Citizen is about 10-12 months, perhaps longer depending on your location.
The Fiancé visas are running about 5-7 months. And that time was shorter recently.
Also note that those Dream Act applications are coming up again after the 2 year work permit starting in late 2014, so expect the Marriage Visa Process to grow longer in 2015.
Why is the Fiancé Visa faster?
Not sure if pressure on I-130’s in 2013 was a USCIS scapegoat, or the truth. But the beneficiaries of the I-130 delays were petitioners for Fiance Visas on the I-129F form. That processing time went to less than one month in January 2014. That time is now about 3 months.
Doesn’t a large age discrepancy mean my application for a fiance visa is doomed?
Not Really. We at Buda Law Group have had several approvals of greater than 30 year age discrepancies recently.
The larger problem is sponsoring more than 2 different people for the Fiancé Visa. But we can work on that type of application too.
How is the National Visa Center these days?
A mixed bag. Up until late 2014, the NVC was the more reliable of the two with the USCIS. Now, I’m not sure. I am experiencing longer delays with the NVC this Spring 2014, and they have made some obvious errors on cases. I hope they get back to normal soon.
I am concerned with all the rumors of Confusion in the US Consulate in Guangzhou after the move of location in July 2013. Should I be worried?
Yes, it was a bit of a mess during the latter half of 2013, but the worst is behind them. Also, all US Operations in China had to transition to www.ustraveldocs.com last year, and that added to the confusion.
Now, the GUZ Consulate seems to be settling down and conducting interviews. Applicants for the fiancé visa can schedule their own interviews in www.ustraveldocs.com, and this has helped reduce some anxiety with couples. Marriage couples must still work through the NVC.
Here is a chart of current USCIS processing times as of April 2014:
|I-129F Fiancé Visa Application||I-130 Marriage Visa Application
|California Service Center||5 Months||5 Months|
|Vermont Service Center||5 Months||7 months|
|Nebraska Service Center||N/A||5 months|
|Texas Service Center||5 Months||18 months|
I hope this information has helped clear up some of the confusion about marriage or fiancé visas in China. If you have a specific question, feel free to email me at my contact info below.John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More
Under U.S. law, the United States may grant asylum only to aliens who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Once an individual obtains asylum in the United States, the individual can invite his or her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States. Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: Race, Religion, Nationality, Membership in a particular social group, or Political opinion. Notably, since Russia banned the spread of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors, effectively making it a crime to distribute material on gay rights, many people have successfully sought asylum in the United States under threat of unjust persecution.
Permission to Work in the United States
You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum, however, you may apply for employment authorization after 150 days have passed since you filed your complete application, and no decision has been made on your application.
Bringing Your Family to the United States
If you are granted asylum you may petition to bring your spouse and children to the United States. However, to include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried. You must also file the petition within two years of being granted asylum unless there are humanitarian reasons to excuse this deadline.
Filing for Permanent Residence (Green Card)
You may apply for a green card one year after being granted asylum. To apply for a green card, file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. You must submit a separate I-485 application packet for yourself and, if applicable, for each family member who received derivative asylum based on your case.
Buda Law Group proudly represents multiple asylum clients every year and has a long record of successful cases. Please give us a call as soon as possible to discuss your circumstances.John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405
With substantial improvements to the EB-5 category and increased demand; each successive year, the number of EB-5 applicants has grown in popularity. For instance, in 2008, USCIS issued a total of 1,360 EB-5 visas. By 2012, this number jumped to over 4,000 EB-5 visa applications; 80% of these came directly from China. Part of this increase was due to the unprecedented economic growth of China and the creation of many independently wealthy individuals. Additionally, international investors have had their options reduced as Canada recently ended its lenient & inexpensive immigrant investor program. In 2013, more than 8,500 visas were issued through the EB-5 category; however, a retrogression of the EB-5 visas is anticipated for 2014.
Notably, a surge of would-be investors from China has fed the EB-5 boom. Wealthy Chinese have become more interested in planting roots in the U.S., which they view as a desirable place to park assets, educate their children and, in many cases, establish residency. An entire industry has cropped up in China to connect such investors with EB-5 opportunities. Hundreds of immigration-consulting firms, licensed by China’s regional authorities, help U.S. businesses find investors, collecting fees and commissions as high as $175,000 per investor.
Approval for the EB-5 I-526 applications is high. In 2009, USCIS received 1,028 submissions of Form I-526. Of these, 966 were approved and 163 were denied. Likewise, in 2013, USCIS received 6,517 Form I-526. Of these, 82.6% were approved. Most denials occurred because investors failed to demonstrate their investment funds were lawfully acquired.
The EB-5 visa essentially offers a good immigration solution for those who have the financial resources to qualify and a tolerance for high risk investments. It does not require an employment offer from a U.S. employer as other employment-based immigration categories do, nor does it require a labor certificate. With the current economic downturn, USCIS has relaxed its requirements for the EB-5 program as a means to bring in more foreign investment. Most importantly, because the annual quota in the past consistently exceeds the number of applicants, those who qualify for EB-5 status do not typically have to wait long for a visa as there is currently no visa quota backlog for the EB-5 investor category. This is likely to change in 2014, due to increased demand.
At Buda Law Group, we make sure our clients’ investments are not only sufficient for an EB-5 visa, but continue to be profitable for years to come. Our team is experienced in picking only the best and most secure options, making sure to avoid the many scams currently making headlines. If you are interested in the EB-5 program, call us ASAP for a consultation!
John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405
People who are internationally recognized as outstanding scientific researches or renowned pedagogues may qualify for the “Outstanding Researcher or Professor” EB-1B immigrant visa. Unlike self-petitioned EB-1A applications, EB-1B applications are employer sponsored. This means the petitioning employer must demonstrate that the applicant has outstanding ability as a researcher or professor and has a permanent job offer from the employer (usually a college or university). The outstanding researcher/professor must have the sponsorship of his/her employer throughout the petitioning process. The employer is the petitioner and the outstanding researcher/professor is the beneficiary for the EB-1B process. Buda Law Group has successfully submitted dozens of EB-1B applications for applicants with a variety of backgrounds in research and academia. If you have a successful reputation as a researcher or professor, and have a job offer from a U.S. employer, give us a call today so our experienced team can guide you through the process!
There are three (3) main requirements for someone seeking a petition as an “Outstanding Researcher/Professor”, including:
- International recognition for being outstanding in a specific academic field;
- At least three years of relevant research or teaching experience: Research or teaching experience obtained while in pursuit of an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D., can be counted toward the three year requirement, but only if the applicant has acquired the degree, and if the teaching duties were such that he or she had full responsibility for the class taught or if the research conducted toward the degree has been recognized within the academic field as outstanding. The applicant must document his or her work history with letters from current and/or former employers describing work duties and years of employment; and
- A job offer for a permanent research position or a tenured or tenure-track teaching position from the sponsoring employer: Generally, the job offer is given by a university or other similar academic or scientific institution, but it can also be offered by a private employer. If the offer is from a private employer, the employer must have at least three full-time researchers along with accompanying documentation supporting their accomplishments within the field.
As with all employment-based first preference petitions, no Labor Certification is required to obtain an EB-1B immigrant visa. However, the person seeking permanent resident status on the basis of an EB-1B Outstanding Researcher/Professor classification must have the requisite job offer with the sponsoring employer that is filing the petition on the applicant’s behalf.
To be recognized internationally as an outstanding researcher or professor in one’s field requires at least two (2) of the following types of evidence:
- Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
- Membership in associations which require outstanding achievements of their members.
- Published material in professional publications written by others about the applicant’s work (more than merely citing the applicant’s work).
- Participation as a judge (individually or as a part of a panel) evaluating the work of others in the same field or concentration.
- Original scientific, scholarly, or artistic contributions in the field.
- Evidence of authorship of scholarly books/articles in journals with an international circulation.
If you have any questions, the team here at Buda Law Group will gladly answer them. Please reach out to us to find out more or get a competitive quote on our legal immigration services.
Thank You,John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405
The E-2 and EB-5 visas are some of the most popular ways to get into the United States from a foreign country. But the question that many prospective applicants face is which one to choose from.
The 5th preference employment based visa (eb-5) was created in 1990 as a way for foreign investors to gain United States permanent residency (and citizenship if desired), through an investment in a new or pre-existing American business that results in the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs for American workers. The E-2 visa, however, is available to an alien who is a citizen or national of a treaty country and who wishes to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the operation of an enterprise in which he or she has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. It is a long-term, renewable, nonimmigrant work visa. Buda Law Group has an impeccable record of successful E2 and EB5 applications, and our experienced team will help you pick the right option for you. Below is a brief comparison of the requirements for the E2 and EB5:
The E-2 visa is specifically designed for alien business owners, business managers, and employees who are required to stay in the U.S. for prolonged periods of time to oversee or work for an enterprise in which he/she has a substantial investment. While the U.S. does not set a specific investment amount, $100,000 -$200,000 has generally been considered the required threshold.
Notably, E2 investor visas can be renewed for as long as the U.S. business employs several full-time workers and remains profitable. Visa renewals are generally granted in increments of two years, with no set maximum.
There are three main requirements to apply for E2 visas:
1) A treaty must exist between the United States and the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought;
2) Majority ownership or control of the investing or trading company must be held by nationals of the foreign country under whose treaty the E status is sought;
3) Citizenship of the foreign country under whose treaty the status is sought by each employee or principal of the company who is seeking the E status pursuant to the treaty.
In stark contrast to the E2 visa, is the EB5 investor visa which is a true permanent residency status. According to the USCIS, to qualify for the EB5 visa program you must:
1) Invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000. If your investment is in a designated targeted employment area (A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150% of the national average) the minimum investment requirement is reduced to $500,000.
2) Benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets.
3) Create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers. This includes U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the U.S. (however it does not include you (the immigrant), or your spouse, sons or daughters).
4) Be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a corporate officer or board member.
Thus, despite both the E2 and EB5 being investment-based visas, they are very different. While the E2 is technically temporary despite lacking a maximum stay requirement, the EB5 is a true permanent resident status. Moreover, the amount required for a qualifying investment also differs.
Contact Buda Law Group today, and let us help you pick the best option for your circumstances. Whether you choose the E2 or EB5 route, our team will guide you every step of the way!John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More
Congress created the EB-5 category in 1990 to attract foreign entrepreneurs to invest in U.S. businesses in exchange for immigrant visas. By investing $1,000,000 or $500,000 in new or troubled businesses and by creating 10 jobs for US workers, an alien investor has the opportunity to obtain a green card for himself and his immediate family. The annual 10,000 immigrant visas allocated to the EB-5 category have been highly underutilized in the past. However, the category is growing in popularity, with a recent surge of 7,400 visas obtained in 2012, compared to just 4,218 visas in 2009 and 1,443 visas in 2008.
There are two ways for an alien investor to obtain lawful permanent resident status under the EB-5 category: through the Basic Program or the Regional Center Pilot Program. Whereas the Basic Program requires investment in a commercial enterprise located anywhere within the US, the Regional Center Program requires investment in a regional-center-affiliated new commercial enterprise or a troubled business within a designated regional center. Regional Centers are USCIS-designated geographical locations defined as economic units, public or private, involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. The major advantage of the Regional Center Pilot Program is that investors can bypass the normal requirement of creating 10 new full time jobs in the Basic Program by creating indirect employment.
However, not all investment opportunities and regional center programs are a guarantee. Recently, bankruptcies and an FBI investigation have cast a pall over foreign investment ventures in South Dakota, where the local government failed at tried to pick winning investments, according to an article in the Washington Examiner.
The South Dakota investigation is focusing on five projects essentially hand-picked by the SDRC and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development: Dakota Provisions of Huron, Northern Beef Packers of Aberdeen, NextEra Energy’s Day County 2 Wind Farm, Basin Electric’s Deer Creek generation plant at Elkton, and the Deadwood Mountain Grand hotel and casino.
The SDRC and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development used the federal investor-visa program to pump millions of dollars into the now-bankrupt Northern Beef Packers plant. The $100 million slaughterhouse, funded largely by Asian EB-5 investors, was auctioned off for $4.8 million in cash and $39.5 million in the cancellation of what North called a “somewhat murky debt.”
The failed beef plant is only the tip of the iceberg of South Dakota’s questionable EB-5 ventures. The state has favored mega-dairies with EB-5 cash at the expense of small local dairies, asserted Cory Allen Heidelberger, a political blogger with the Madville Times. Overall, the audit concluded that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development didn’t adequately monitor the EB-5 program as run by SDRC.
Choosing the right investment option for you is perhaps the most important part of your EB-5 application. Although nothing, except death and taxes, is a guarantee, Buda Law Group has a track record of successful investment ventures and regional center program options. Call us today for a consultation about what EB-5 qualifying investment is right for you, and our team of experienced professionals will guide you every step of the way.
Thank You,John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More
Just like with many other types of visas, certain dependents and/or assistants of O-1 status holders may travel to the United States with them. Traveling with an O-2 or O-3 visa, these nonimmigrants have the same duration of stay as the primary O-1 status holder.
The O-3 status is intended for the spouse or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany an O-1 or O-2 status holder to the United States. They are subject to the same period and limitations as the primary O-1 or O-2 alien. However, these individuals are not allowed to accept employment unless they have been granted an Employment Authorization Document. If the spouse or child is already in the United States on another nonimmigrant classification, they may file a separate change of status application.
The O-3 nonimmigrant status is intended for those who will accompany and assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 alien. To qualify for O-2 status, the individual must be an “integral part” of the actual performance and have “critical skills and experience” with the O-1 alien which are not of a general nature and which cannot be performed by U.S. workers.
In order to accompany an O-1 artist or athlete of extraordinary ability, an O-2 petitioner must provide evidence of current essentiality, skills and experience along with evidence of prior experience working with the principal O-1 status holder.
In order to accompany an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, etc., an O-2 petitioner must provide evidence that significant production work has taken place outside the U.S., will continue in the U.S., and that the alien’s continuing participation is critical to the success of the production.
Additionally, the O-2 beneficiary must maintain a foreign residence and assets that he or she has no intention of abandoning. Moreover, consultation with an appropriate peer group that can attest to the O-2 alien’s qualifications and necessity is mandatory before the petition can be approved by the USCIS, just as with an O-1 petition. The only exception to this requirement would be if the petitioner can demonstrate that an appropriate peer group does not exist, in which case the decision will be based on the remaining available evidence. Finally, the petitioning employer must file an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with the USCIS for the O-2 visa in conjunction with the O-1 visa at least 45 days before the start date of employment. This cannot be done more than one year in advance of when the O-1 nonimmigrant will begin employment.
At Buda Law Group, we have a team of experienced professionals who will help you build the strongest O-1, O-2 and/or O-3 case possible. We have extensive experience assisting our clients with letters of reference and helping them get professional peer group support. Call or e-mail us today for a consultation and to begin your O status petition!John B. Buda, Esq. www.budalawgroup.net office: 310-452-1872 [email protected] 3301 Ocean Park Blvd. Suite 205 Santa Monica, CA 90405 Read More