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News and articles - ACS Law Offices, Inc.

Here we are again nearing the end of the fiscal year for the United States government. Every year for the past several years, the months prior to the end of the fiscal year have included an extraordinary amount of media coverage about the EB-5 Investment Visa Program.

  • Will the Regional Center Program continue?
  • Will the definition of Targeted Employment Areas change?
  • Will the minimum investment change?

Several times the questions have come down to the wire, leaving investors concerned. With over a week remaining in the fiscal year, the House Appropriations Committee has approved yet another spending bill that continues to fund designated federal program as they currently operate until December 7th.

The EB-5 Investment Visa program is one of those specifically-named programs.

The spending bill still requires the President’s signature for it to become law, but his approval is anticipated.

Unlike some previous spending bills, this one includes some significant appropriations including $97.1 billion for the military and military veterans’ programs, $44.6 billion for energy and water. The funds for energy and water include programs to improve flood-control projects, regional ports and waterways, and nuclear stockpile readiness.

It is still too soon to tell if changes will be made to the EB-5 program as of December 7th, but representatives of IIUSA said that the extension allows EB-5 advocates “renewed opportunities to push for long-term reauthorization” after the November elections and before the commencement of the 116th Congress in 2019.

The extension also benefits investors who are seriously considering the EB-5 program, as it allows additional time to take advantage of the favorable terms of the visa program should any legislation currently under consideration be presented for approval on or before December 7th.

The bottom line is that investors should take advantage of the extension by beginning the application process now before changes, including any potential increase in the minimum investment, are approved.

Published in EB-5 program
Thursday, 27 September 2018 11:39

U.S. Offers Asylum Seekers a Second Chance

Asylum seekers at the U.S. southwest border are anxiously awaiting a District Court Judge’s approval of a settlement reached late Wednesday evening, September 12th. If approved, the agreement will open a review of more than 1,000 previously rejected asylum requests.

It is believed that a substantial number of previously rejected petitioners had been persuaded that withdrawing their bids would be the best way to have their isolated children returned to them. Many of these petitioners from Central America had been unable to convince immigration officials that they faced a credible fear of persecution or torture if forced to return to their home countries.

According to a report in USA Today, some parents have also argued that they were rushed through the asylum process by federal immigration officials, were not informed of all their legal options, and some were misled into signing away their right to apply for asylum (See Special Note below).

Under the terms of the agreement, if either the parent or a child passes the “initial credible fear interview,” the entire family will be allowed to continue through the asylum process together as a family. Even if a parent fails to pass the initial interview, he or she will be allowed to remain in the country until the child’s case has been adjudicated. If the child’s case is accepted, the parents will be accepted also.

Passing the initial interview is not a guarantee of asylum. That process could take up to two years to complete. However, during that time the applicants may live and work in the U.S.

Approval is highly likely – and could happen even before this article is published – because the Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego is the same judge who ordered the government and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to come to an agreement on the matter on August 17th in which he ordered the government develop a streamlined process to handle immigrant families caught in this and similar situations.

It was in that previous hearing that Judge Sabraw wrote that “So much of this is really common sense and common courtesy. There shouldn’t be anything mysterious about it. It should be transparent and easy to do.”

The conditions of the settlement will allow parents to submit additional evidence and testimony to clearly establish their credible fear of returning to their home country. One attorney representing the cause of the immigrants said, “They will finally have a real chance to be heard and to secure safety and stability for themselves and their families.”

Official approval by Judge Sabraw could come as early as Friday afternoon, September 14th. Claims will be heard on a case-by-case basis.

Under the agreement, the government must allow a lawyer to represent the parents during their second interview, either in person or on the phone.”

Special Note: Do not attempt to apply for asylum without the aid of an Immigration Attorney. Had those asylum seekers had legal counsel during their first interviews, they would not have been misled into withdrawing their asylum request.

With Law Offices now open in San Diego, Immigration Attorneys from ACS Law Offices, Inc. are available to help. Please use the links below to contact us for assistance.

Published in Asylum

Karen Handel, (R-GA) introduced a bill entitled the Community Safety and Security Act of 2018 to the House of Representatives on August 31st. The bill was placed on the House schedule the following day and was sent to the floor as H.R. 6691. Requiring a simple majority vote, the bill passed by a vote of 247-152.

As might be expected with the current activity of the House of Representative, the passage generally followed party lines with 218 Republicans and 29 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, 4 Republicans and 148 Democrats voting against, and 28 abstentions equally divided between the two parties.

The unlikely-named immigration-oriented bill was introduced to amend the definition of the term “crime of violence” in the U.S. Criminal Code, largely because the term was found to be too nebulous in litigation against legal immigrants under prosecution and for whom the government is seeking deportation.

Representative Handel introduced the bill to deal with situations in which U.S. prosecutors failed to convince judges that alleged charges against lawful immigrants fell within the parameters of the broadly defined “crime of violence.” H.R. 6691 names specific offenses already commonly defined in U.S. law for which conviction on alleged criminal activity could result in the sentencing of revocation of legal residency, whether by Green Card or by naturalization, and deportation.

According to GovTrack, a 2018 Supreme Court ruled that the second clause of the definition of “crime of violence” is “unconstitutionally void for vagueness.” Some authorities have feared that the fallout from that decision could mean that “certain burglary, indecent assault and battery, stalking, and manslaughter convictions may no longer qualify as crimes of violence . . . though they are clearly dangerous crimes.”

The bill proposes adding the following terms under the umbrella of “crime of violence.”

Abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse, assault, arson, burglary, carjacking, child abuse, communication of threats, coercion, domestic violence, extortion, firearms use, fleeing, force, hostage taking, human trafficking, interference with flight crew members and attendants, kidnapping, murder, robbery, stalking, weapon of mass destruction, and voluntary manslaughter.

We cannot predict what the future will hold. However, if you are concerned that your Green Card may expire before your application for citizenship is approved, we may be able to help to eliminate your anxiety and even help move your application along more expeditiously.

The bill will now move to the Senate where it must be approved without a change in order to be forwarded to the President to sign it into law.

Civil rights activists are protesting the bill, positing it as discriminatory to legal immigrants. However, the land of the free does not mean that America is a land where one is free to do whatever one chooses, especially when it comes to crimes of violence. It would serve us well to remember that the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America includes the declaration that

“I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America . . . [and] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

We are pleased to bring regular updates to our readers and clients. As always, we welcome your input and discussions about immigration on our social media.

Published in Immigration
Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:42

The Dilemma of Detaining Alien Children

There is an uproar across the United States over the fallout from the government’s Zero Tolerance policy on illegal immigration. The particular concern currently is the separation of children from accompanying adults who have been caught crossing the border illegally.

We are witnessing a classic example of the dilemma of any human government attempting to a) protect the welfare and security of its own citizens, while b) appearing to lack compassion on innocent victims of the rules and regulations enacted to protect the citizens. This dilemma always exists relative to any nations’ immigration policies. Since September 11, 2001, and the so-called ‘War on Terror,” the problem has been exacerbated as the State Department, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have attempted to enforced existing legislation.

The conflict between compassion and protection is like an army fighting against itself in the fog. Everyone’s intentions are good but otherwise innocent people can become victims of the inability to keep legislation fair and compassionate or to keep compassion controlled.

Laws are made to protect the innocent from the guilty. While the system may work well most of the time, it is unreasonable to expect it to work the way it was intended to work all of the time. Some person or some small group of people may suffer unintended consequences of the system working on a broad scale.

Currently, compassion hearts ache for children of accompanying adults who attempt to enter the United States illegally. The U.S. is not opposed to immigrants or immigration. However, there is a process that must be followed to immigrate legally. Crossing a border other than at an official U.S. Border Station is illegal. Persons attempting to cross the border illegally are subject to potential prosecution. When they are arrested, they are separated from their children – which would happen if they were arrested for robbing a bank. The children are relocated to special facilities operated by the

Department of Health and Human Services while efforts are made to place the children in the home of a relative, foster care, or another suitable place.

Is this hard on the children? Of course, it is. Again, it is no different than what the government would do for the children of otherwise criminal parents. The alleged parents are breaking the law. The overarching factor in the case of the criminal act or illegal border entry is that it is not one or two children, it is hundreds, and even thousands of them.

On the other hand, there are innocents like Kate Steinle, who have become victims of those whom the government failed to detain and to ensure they did not return illegally again.

We agree that the matter is one that can cause a great deal of angst, even for those not directly involved who are simply trying to deal with it on the basis of principle, whether that principle is protection or compassion.

If you or anyone you know is planning to come to the United States, please contact an Immigration Attorney to understand the legal process and receive guidance on how to enter legally. We encourage our readers to avoid the dangers on both sides of the border by seeking legal counsel before coming to the border. Doing so will also ensure that your family stays together.

Our Immigration Attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise. We are available to review your situation and advise you on the best and right way to handle your specific situation and secure the best outcome for you and your family.

Published in Immigration
Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:35

Immigrating? Tell the Truth

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on June 8, 2018, that it is expanding its efforts to find, denaturalize, and deport “a few thousand cases” of immigrants who fraudulently obtained their Green Cards and, in some cases, applied for and became naturalized.

Immigrating? Tell the Truth

As the federal government continues its crackdown on illegal immigration, L. Francis Cissna, the Director of the USCIS, explained that the department would be adding several dozen attorneys and officers who will be focused on one particular group of illegal immigrants of which the general public is largely unaware.

Those people are a select group Green Card holders and naturalized citizens who used a specific, fraudulent act to outwit the government. It is the same technique that some continue to use to gain employment fraudulently.

This group is comprised of people who, having been ordered for deportation, reapplied successfully by using fake identities. Poultry processors in the Midwest have experienced this same tactic for job applicants who have been turned away. They return days or weeks later with a new identity. If they are discovered, they are not hired. Or, if hired then discovered, they are terminated. When it comes to those who have used this practice to immigrate, they can expect to be charged with felony fraud and imprisoned prior to deportation.

The USCIS has been aware of this activity for years, but this will be the first time they will have an entire department focused on finding the miscreants. It will take about six months to get the Los Angeles office up and running. Nonetheless, the agency already has a process in place “to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place.”

Why are we sharing this information?

  1. Immigrants who have legally obtained their Green Cards or have become naturalized should not be concerned. The government has a relatively good idea who the perpetrators are. Director Cissna said, “The people who are going to be targeted by this - they know full well who they are because they were ordered removal under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on.”
  2. Some undocumented immigrants in the U.S. may be tempted to secure legal immigration using fraudulent activities. We urge these people to contact us to help gain immigrant status legally. We may be able to assist you with gaining asylum so that you can obtain legal status and peace of mind.

Our Immigration Attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise. We are available to review your situation and advise you on the best and right way to resolve your tenuous status.

Published in Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC – The Justice Department announced on Thursday, May 17, 2018, that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ruled to foreclose the practice of Administrative Closure by Immigration Judges.

That ruling has raised the hue and cry from advocates and opponents to the ruling. Our purpose is to neither advocate nor oppose, but to explain what the ruling means and why it was imposed.

What Is Foreclosure?

Most people are familiar with the term “foreclosure” associate it with a practice that lending institutions use when homeowners fall in arrears on their mortgage payments. In a more general legal sense, applicable here, foreclosure means “to hinder or prevent.” In this case, the Attorney General’s ruling prevents Immigration Judges from exercising Administrative Closure.

What Is Administrative Closure?

Administrative Closure is a procedure by which an Immigration Judge may temporarily remove low-priority cases from the court docket. Typically, a low-priority case is one in which the defendant appealing deportation has been in the United States for an extended time and has not engaged in known criminal activity. Many of the cases also involve situations where the defendant fails to appear for his or her hearing.

Administrative Closure allows the judges to focus on high-priority cases, especially those involving known criminals.

Why Do Some People Agree with the Attorney General’s Decision?

Generally, those people believe that temporarily preventing discretionary Administrative Foreclosure will, indeed, allow Immigration Judges to focus on processing the most-likely candidates for deportation. This aligns with the administration’s agenda to find and return illegal immigrant gang members and law-breakers to their homelands.

In addition, proponents believe that the failure to adjudicate a case temporarily ends up with the case never being heard at all. They believe that using Administrative Closure simply because the respondent fails to appear (which may or may not be happening) may allow some of the criminal element to remain in the U.S. illegally.

Why Do Some People Disagree with the Attorney General’s Decision?

Generally, these people take one of two primary positions. The first is the claim that the administration is trying to turn the Immigration Courts into a “deportation machine.”

The other is that some believe that denying a respondent’s opportunity to move his or her hearing to a later date infringes upon the individual’s right to a speedy hearing.

There may also be some concern that this temporary foreclosure could become permanent.

The Problem Is the Backlog of Cases

It has become apparent that, because of the use of Administrative Closure, the actual number of cases requiring adjudication may be much higher than what had been reported by the previous administration because of failure to accurately report the number of cases in Administrative Closure.

The backlog of cases waiting to be heard was 212,000 at the beginning of 2006. By 2015, the backlog had increased to 437,000 cases with a median processing time of 404 days.

How this falls out remains to be seen. Attorney General Sessions is attempting to get all pending cases adjudicated. The unintended consequences may be that the backlog will, at least statistically, increase and that respondents who have no legal representation may find themselves being unwillingly exited from the United States.

The attorneys at American Corporate Services Law Offices, Inc. understand the complexities of U.S. Immigration Law and are highly skilled at ensuring that our clients are fully equipped to understand the process and prepared to succeed with their petitioning process as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are notified that you must appear before an Immigration Court, we urge you to contact our Law Offices immediately for assistance.

Published in Immigration

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program has been a boon to foreign investors and the U.S. economy. This has been especially true during the economic expansion in China and the recession in America. EB-5 has been the right vehicle at the right time. Now investors in countries like India (the second fastest growing economy behind China) and Vietnam are showing increased interest in the investment immigration program.

Speaking of “increased” and “investment,” potential EB-5 investors are once again faced with the potential of an increase in the minimum investments required to participate in the EB-5 program. Several proposals are on the table for discussion for legislation in the U.S. Congress and for regulatory reform at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

EB-5 Reform Bills

Several immigration reform bills have been submitted over the past several years, but none have been able to reach the floor of either the Senate or the House of Representatives for a vote. There are three bills currently pending that could initiate changes to EB-5 investment requirements if passed.

  1. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and Regional Center Program Comprehensive Reform Act of 2017. This bill calls for changing the minimum investments in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and non-TEAs to $800,000 and $925,000 respectively. That is a 60% increase in the minimum investment required in a TEA and a mere 2.5% decrease in non-TEA investments.
  2. The American Job Creation and Investment into Public Works Reform Act of 2017. This bill calls for the same 60% increase in the minimum for TEA investments and a 20% increase from $1 million to $1.2 million for non-TEA investments.
  3. The American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2017. This bill also recommends the same 60% increase in investment in TEAs but proposes that the $1 million non-TEA investment remains the same.

USCIS Division of the Department of Homeland Security

This is where the EB-5 investment question becomes a bit sticky. With Congress stuck in gridlock on immigration reform and dozens of other issues, the USCIS has indicated that, should Congress continue to fail to act, the department will exercise its own regulatory authority and introduce its own reforms. Those reforms include an as-yet-undisclosed increase in minimum investments.

However, the January 2017 Notice of Proposed Rule Making that is the basis for the DHS cited an increase of the EB-5 minimum investment from $500,000 to $1.35 million. Although the previous Final Action Date of February 2018 has passed, it was not ignored. The current Final Action Date is August 2018.

What It Means for EB-5 Investors

The DHS and USCIS, in cooperation with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has positioned itself to act where Congress has been unable and/or unwilling to. August 2018 is three months away.

For investors, the impending increases are looming large and may be coming sooner than anticipated. Waiting for Congress is like Waiting for Godot. However, the waiting is over. The DHS and USCIS changes can be implemented without congressional approval.

The handwriting on the wall is saying that the time for waiting and indecision is over. Wise investors are defined by the wisdom of their investments. The wisdom of their investments is adjudicated on the merit of the investment versus the return. The wise investor would avoid spending $1.35 million (or $1.2 million) for something he or she could have obtained for $500,000.

We strongly recommend investors who are considering immigrating to the United States via the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program to contact us right away so that we can begin the process before investment increases are imposed.

The attorneys at American Corporate Services Law Offices, Inc. understand the complexities of U.S. Immigration Law and are highly skilled at ensuring that our clients are fully equipped to understand the process and prepared to succeed with their petitioning process and gaining their Green Card as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Published in EB-5 program
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 08:50

President Trumps Statement on Immigration

Following the attempted bombing of a New York City subway platform on December 11, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump once again called for immigration reform.

Misunderstanding the president’s statement may cause unnecessary concern for some foreign nationals who wish to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of this article is to help put those fears to rest.

The Heart of the President’s December 11th Statement

The core of Monday’s statement was that “America must fix its lax immigration system.” The president called on Congress to “act on my Administration’s other proposals to enhance domestic security” to “improve our immigration system.”

A complete copy of the president’s statement is available from the White House Press Office.

The Heart of the President’s Immigration Policy

President Trump ran on a campaign of “Make America Great Again.” His immigration policy was summarized in three points.

  • Secure America’s borders.
  • Enforce our laws.
  • “Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages, and security for all Americans.”

The Heart of the Matter for Foreign Nationals Wanting to Immigrate

Everything that the Administration is asking should be comforting, not alarming, to foreign nationals. The aim is to improve conditions within the country and with the country’s immigration program.

Despite arguments to the contrary, the EB-5 program, for example, was designed to create jobs for Americans and spur American economic growth. The other employment-based visas are intended to bring foreign nationals with specialized skill sets that will be used to promote the U.S. economy.

In FY 2012 and FY 2013, the EB-5 program contributed $5.8 billion to the American economy.

  • EB-5 investments represented 35% of the total investment spending in the U.S. during that period.
  • EB-5 investments created an estimated 174,000 jobs for qualified U.S. workers during the same period.

Because the EB-5 Immigration Investment Visa program is generating the results the Trump Administration wants, the danger of its elimination is probably highly overrated. The Administration’s other objectives of making the country more secure go to the heart of why many immigrants wish to come to America. It is a safe place to live, to learn, to work, and to invest.

American Corporate Services, Inc. does not endorse political agendas. We do, however, promote lawful and rational immigration and the use of it to enhance both our economy and the benefits of freedom and justice for all who reside in the U.S.

America is a country built on immigration and built by immigrants. The current administration is focusing on growing the U.S. economy. They know that cannot be done by keeping immigrants out, but by attracting the right immigrants so that they, too, can prosper and enjoy the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Published in Immigration
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