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EB-5 Visa Holders Advised to Be Mindful of Status Violations After USCIS Memo

In June this year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released Policy Memorandum with the subject: Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens in responsive to a Trump EO (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) issued last year, which ordered USCIS to prioritize the removal of unlawfully present immigrants in the country.

The memo targets all delinquent immigrants, including holders of EB-5 visas who are overstaying in the country. At present, USCIS can at any moment file an NTA on an immigrant when they meet certain criteria, initiating removal proceedings.

A foreign investor under the EB-5 may now be issued an NTA when they are found to have made an immigration violation, abused public benefit programs, or have fallen out of legal status. They can also be removed for being arrested for a criminal offense whether or not the case has been resolved and regardless of its outcome.

EB-5 investors and their dependent family members whose presence in the United States is made possible by their nonimmigrant status are advised to be vigilant in maintaining their legal status and eligibility for conditional permanent resident status in order to avoid being removed by USCIS.

Individuals who are dependents of EB-5 visa holders should also consult with their immigration attorneys when making any employment changes, including changes to their employer, workplace, compensation rate, or position, as these may have an effect on their lawful presence in the US.

Relatives of EB-5 holders currently lawfully studying in the US should note that changes to one’s coursework and subject load may also adversely affect lawful presence. As such, student immigrants under the EB-5 may want to consult with their international student office and immigration attorney before making such changes and even when choosing to take a semester off, accepting paid employment, unpaid internships, or volunteer work.

President Trump issued Executive Order 13768 last year, issuing the directive to prioritize swift deportation activities against unlawfully present immigrants from the country, fulfilling his anti-immigrant pledge made during the campaign trail.

A number of policies were introduced to aid deportation efforts. These include hiring 10,000 additional ICE officers, deputizing local law enforcers, and, the most controversial of these, eliminating “sanctuary cities,” which entails depriving law enforcement jurisdictions of federal funds should they be found to be uncooperative with federal immigration enforcement.

Given the current emphasis on removing unlawfully present immigrants, those in the country on lawful bases are advised to maintain their lawful presence and regularly consult with their immigration attorneys.

If you have questions about how to prepare for potential scrutiny on your investor visa status, talk to Austin-based immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle. Contact the Lyttle Law Firm at (512) 215-5225to schedule a consultation today.

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