October 1, 2013 – Businesses Fraudulently Scam Foreign Investors Seeking to Obtain Permenant U.S. Residency Through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have recently filed several criminal actions against business owners that misled foreign investors seeking to particpate in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Pursuant to EB-5, business owners may apply to be desiginated as “regional centers” that offer investment opportunities in “new commercial enterprises” that may involve securities offerings. A foreign investor who invests a certain amount of money that is placed at risk in a business qualifed as a “regional center”, and creates or preserves a minimum number of jobs in the United States, is eligible to apply for conditional lawful permanent residency. Toward the end of the two-year period of conditional residency, the foreign investor is eligible to apply to have the conditions on their lawful permanent residency removed, if he or she can establish that the job creation requirements have been met. Investing through EB-5 makes you eligible to apply for a conditional visa, but there is no guarantee that USCIS will grant you a conditional visa or subsequently remove the conditions on your lawful permanent residency as USCIS carefully reviews each case to make sure the complicated EB-5 rules have been satisified.
In recent cases brought by the SEC and USCIS, business owners were alleged to have misappropriated investors’ funds and fraudulently guaranteed or promised both unrealistic returns and permenant residency. In some cases the businesses were not even approved by the USCIS as EB-5 qualfied “regional centers.” Yet, even the fact that a business is designated as a regional center by USCIS does not mean that USCIS, the SEC, or any other government agency has approved the investments offered by the business, or has otherwise expressed a view on the quality of the investment. As with any investment, it is important to research thoroughly any offering that purports to be affiliated with EB-5. The SEC and USCIS have released certain factors to consider to help potential investors detect fraud even with EB-5 qualified businesses. Such factors can be found here and include:
(1) confirming that the business has been designated as a regional center by USCIS,
(2) obtaining copies of documents provided by the business to USCIS,
(3) requesting investment information in writing,
(4) ask if promoters (such as consultants, lawyers or agencies recommending the investment) are being paid by the business,
(5) seeking independent verification of facts alleged by business (i.e., confirming with local agencies that permits have been obtained, etc.),
(6) understanding the capital structure of the business (i.e., the amount of debt, whether the debt is secured by the property of the business, etc.),
(7) examining whether the EB-5 regional center principals and developers have capital invested in the projects they manage (if not, they may not have financial incentives linked to the success of the project), and
(8) looking for warning signs of fraud, such as promises of (a) a visa or becoming a lawful permenant resident, (b) guaranteed investments returns or (c) no investment risks.
If you are interested in, or would like to find out more about, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, please contact us for a consulation.
July 2, 2013 – Legally Married Same-Sex Couples To Be Treated Equally for Immigration Purposes as Supreme Court Rules Defense of Marriage Act Unconstituional
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in U.S. v. Windsor finding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstiutional. As a result, federal laws cannot discriminate against legally married same-sex couples. On July 2, 2013, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano stated that pursuant to a direction from President Obama to swiftly implement the Supreme Court’s decision, she had directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediately begin “reviewing immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”
This Supreme Court’s decision is one of the most exciting, forward-thinking decisions in the history of civil-rights and immigration law, and will affect many of our clients and friends. Please contact us for a consultation to see if you believe this decision may impact your situation.
May 7, 2013 - NYCIAI The Children’s Aid Society / EPPLI
The Law Office of Carolina Rubio MacWright participates in the NYCIAI The Children’s Aid Society / EPPLI annual clinic, which helped 50 members of the community of Washington Heights, NY with their Immigration rights.