Posts Tagged ‘Green card holders’
The EB-5 immigrant visa program has rapidly grown in popularity over the last couple of years as the quickest path to permanent residency. To encourage foreign direct investment, the EB-5 employment based visa program was created by Congress in 1990 for qualified immigrant investors who invest in and manage job-creating in commercial enterprises, in order to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment.
The USCIS estimates that as of this past September the program has created 41,940 jobs for U.S. workers – at no cost to the U.S. tax payer – from investments totaling $2.1 billion.
The minimum amount per investor is $1 million of capital, although that amount is reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a rural or high unemployment area. The invested funds must create or save at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers and the typical term of investment is 5 years. The 10,000 EB-5 green cards available each year, 3,000 are reserved for foreign nationals who invest through a Regional Center.
It should also be pointed out that the EB-5 Regional center program does not impose upon the foreign investor’s enterprise to directly employ 10 U.S. workers, instead it requires that 10 or more jobs be created directly or indirectly as a result of the investment.
The immigrant investor’s investment of “capital”, required to be at “risk”, is defined in the regulations has a sufficiently broad meaning so as that investment of capital not only include cash, but also to includes, equipment, tangible property, promissory note and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the foreign investor.
The investors are wealthy foreigners, primarily of Indian, Chinese, South African, Russian, and Pakistani origin, who have an opportunity to invest through varied businesses and in return for their investment they are able to able to obtain a green card without having to endure the long processing times associated with work and family related visa categories.
There are two distinct types of foreign investors that opt for the visa for cash program, one that place their savings to move to the U.S. so their children can get a better education and quality of life, or then college graduates that come from wealthy families who get the investing capital from their parents to they have an opportunity to settle here with a permanent green card and have the option to become a U.S. Citizen.
The Program has been renewed several times since its inception, and is currently due to expire September 30, 2012.
For more information on this program and eligibility please feel free to contact our office.
This post provides an overview about the connection between immigration and taxes for a lawful permanent resident (LPRs).
LPRs, popularly known as green-card holders, are typically concerned about how their immigration status will affect their taxes. This concern is particularly important for those that have either newly acquired a green card, have moved abroad for short-term work or have retired to their native country.
There is a common misconception amongst many LPRs that you become tax residents only if you spend at least 183 days in the United States. To clarify, the 183 day rule is only applicable to non-immigrant visa holders.
As soon you acquire a green card, you are automatically classified as a US tax resident and all green-card holders, like US citizens, are required to report worldwide income by filing a federal income tax return each year (IRS Form 1040) by April 15th. So, whether you live or work outside the United States you continue to be treated as a resident for U.S. tax purposes and are obligated report your world-wide income to the IRS and this reporting requirement applies irrespective of whether the income was earned within the country or internationally.
Therefore, under the relevant regulations, you must file an annual tax return unless (a) the LPR status has been revoked or (b) if it has been administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned or (c) the US residence status is affected by an international income tax treaty so that you are not subject to double taxation.
However, in practice these regulations may create seemingly inconsistent situations between U.S. Immigration law, U.S. tax law and income tax treaties. For instance, consider a situation where an LPR is absent from the US for a long time, and on their return a determination is made by the USCIS that the LPR has not maintained his/her green card status and thereby abandoned the U.S. as his/her permanent residence. Until that determination has actually been made, the income tax filing requirement and any tax obligations will continue for that LPR. The USCIS does not know an LPR’s status until s/he tries to return to the United States after a length of time. Therefore, although an LPR’s green card may be invalid upon entry into the United States and his/her status considered abandoned, the individual must continue to file tax returns until a final determination of revocation or abandonment has been made by the USCIS. A final determination of abandonment may not take place many years after the actual act of abandonment.
For sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that failure to file US taxes can not only hurt an individual’s chances of seeking US citizenship but may also be a criminal offense which could result in loss of green card and eventual deportation from the country.
This is a complicated area of law and if you are seeking further advice about your specific situation, it is recommended that you discuss your circumstances with an experienced attorney or CPA who can guide you about your best options.
This article provides basic information about how a divorce can affect a spouse’s citizenship or naturalization application where a green-card holder spouse (an immigrant spouse), marries a US citizen (USC) and has received his/her green card/permanent residency through marriage. So where an immigrant spouse is contemplating divorce or has obtained a divorce decree it is important to understand the consequences of a divorce on a naturalization/citizenship application.
Assuming, that the marriage was not a sham or for fraudulent purposes, divorce does not adversely affect a spouse’s immigration status after the immigrant spouse has obtained an unconditional green card or permanent residence and in such instances a divorce will not invalidate the green card or cause the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny a citizenship application automatically. More importantly, the sponsoring USC spouse cannot take the right away or attempt to revoke the green card from the immigrant spouse.
A divorce, however, may pose doubts and require the divorced immigrant spouse seeking to obtain U.S. Citizenship to reassure the USCIS interviewing officer that the marriage was not a sham. A good way to prove that your marriage was genuine is to take copies and originals of documents that show that you and your ex-spouse lived together, had joint bank accounts, and shared important and memorable moments during your time together. Examples of documents include, home title or rent receipts or home lease in both names, joint bank account statements, credit card statements, photographs of both spouses on vacation, birth certificates of children born during the marriage, etc.
Also, a divorce can delay an immigrant spouse’s right to obtain citizenship. For instance, a divorced immigrant spouse who was married to a U.S. citizen will not be able to take advantage of the short three year residency requirement, if the spouse is not married to the U.S. citizen for at least three years before the naturalization exam date. In essence, if the immigrant spouse divorces the U.S. citizen spouse before three years of marriage have passed, then s/he will have to wait until the normal five year residency requirement has elapsed before s/he is eligible to apply to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen and cannot take advantage of the three year residency requirement.
Depending on each individual’s personal circumstances, the immigration consequences can be varied and it is therefore recommended that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney to discuss your options and strategize before making a hasty decision.
Next month, I will address the implications of a divorce where a spouse has not yet obtained a green card or is in process of obtaining a green card, as a result of the marriage, and instances where a spouse has a conditional green card.
Reproduced from Lokvani where the article written by our attorney, Hanishi T. Ali, was originally published http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=6239
As of November 13, 2009, approximately 55,600 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been filed. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved sufficient H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees to meet the exemption of 20,000 from the fiscal year 2010 cap. Any H-1B petitions filed on behalf of an alien with an advanced degree will now count toward the general H-1B cap of 65,000. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.
As an extension to our article on applying for a green card for your parents or other immediate relatives, this article discusses the ways to obtain lawful permanent residence through a family based petition.
The two alternate ways in a family based petition to obtain lawful permanent resident status are: (i) consular processing which usually takes place in the intending immigrant’s country of residence and (ii) adjustment of status which is processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
Adjustment of status essentially is a provision in the immigration law that allows certain persons to obtain a green-card or a lawful permanent status while being in the United States and without having to go abroad to the consular office in their home country to apply for an immigrant visa.
Adjustment of status applications must be filed when the applicant is in the US and with the USCIS. Generally, a foreign national applying for a green card as an immediate relative or through a family based preference categories qualifies for an adjustment of status process. A major advantage for immediate relatives is that an adjustment of status can be filed concurrently with the petition for a green card so that the immediate relative(s) are able to adjust as soon as their green card petitions are approved.
One can apply for an adjustment of status so long as:
• S/he entered the United States legally on a valid visa and were inspected and admitted or paroled.
• Never worked in the United States without valid work authorization. This means never having worked illegally.
• Was in a lawful non-immigrant status at all times when in the United States (there are certain exceptions to this requirement) . This means that the applicant has not overstayed the period of time stamped on his or her I-94.
• Were not a non-immigrant admitted without a visa under the visa waiver program (with certain exceptions).
• Were not admitted on a K visa – unless adjusting based on marriage (must occur within 90 days of entering the United States) to the US citizen spouse who filed the non-immigrant visa petition.
• S/he is not in removal proceedings.
Our office generally recommends adjustment of status where possible as opposed to consular processing since:
• The applicant does not have to return to his/her home country.
• Typically time required for obtaining a green-card is shorter through the adjustment of status route.
• Applicant is eligible to obtain employment authorization.
• Applicant has access to administrative and judicial appeal if his/her application is denied.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that applicants may experience up to an eight week delay in the delivery of their permanent resident card while they are in the process of upgrading their card production equipment.
USCIS Field Offices will be issuing temporary evidence of permanent residence in the form of an I-551 stamp to applicants approved for permanent residence at the time of their inteview. USCIS has recommended taking your passport to your appointment. If you do not have a passport, you should bring a passport style photo and government issued photo identification to receive temporary evidence of permanent residence.
This article provides basic information about the Naturalization process. Whether to naturalize or not is an intensely personal one with many important considerations. For many naturalization is an emotional decision — for some the summit of a successful immigration process and for some the end of the last formal bond with their country of origin. There are also many practical considerations. Naturalization may limit ability to own property in their home land and yet others may risk deportation from the United States as result of a naturalization application. The decision, therefore, to acquire naturalization by choice requires careful analysis and consideration and you may want to discuss naturalization with an experienced attorney who can help you decide if naturalization is right for you, and, if necessary, successfully help you through the process.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is a process which a lawful permanent resident (a “green card holder”) in the United States is granted US Citizenship and this process culminates into adopting a new homeland and renunciation of your original citizenship.
Who can naturalize?
A person who has become a lawful permanent resident (a “green card” holder) in the United States, and is over 18 years of age, seeking to become a United States citizen can naturalize. The process is started by filing form N-400.
Whether to Naturalize?
First, assess your own circumstances, and consider whether becoming a US Citizen makes sense and whether it will provide you advantages. Common privileges include visa-free travel to many countries, including Canada, minor children deriving US Citizenship through you if you naturalize, being able to vote for government officials, right to sit on the jury, rights to sponsor relatives for permanent residence, the ability to apply for federal jobs, and the entitlement to full protection of the US laws. The potential disadvantages are loss of other citizenship(s), and restrictions regarding ownership of property in one’s home country,
Second, research your home country’s citizenship laws to find out whether dual citizenship is allowed or whether it will cause you to lose your current nationality. For instance, India does not allow dual citizenship and you will have to have your Indian passport cancelled after you acquire US citizenship. You may, however, choose to acquire the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card or the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card that allows certain privileges, including visa-free travel to India, and exemption from registration with local police authority, to name a few.
Basic Requirements for Naturalization:
a. Residence requirement:
In order to apply for naturalization, you normally must have resided in the United States as a legal permanent resident for five year s and have been under the jurisdiction of the USCIS director or state where you file the petition for at least 3 months. You can apply within 3 years for naturalization if your spouse has been a United States citizen for the last three years, and you lived with your spouse during that time. Naturalization applications can be sent in up to 90 days before the three or five year mark is reached. The two primary residence requirements can be very complicated depending on evaluation of your residence in the naturalization context.
b. Good moral character:
To qualify for naturalization, all applicants must demonstrate their good moral character during the three or five year period of residence required for your application. Some of the bars to good moral character, include, criminal convictions, trafficking in controlled substances, false testimony to USCIS, failure to pay child support, failure to pay income tax, fraudulent use of public benefits, etc.
c. Speaking, Reading and Writing English:
Applicants must speak, read, and write English. Typically during naturalization interviews, an applicant is required to understand the questions asked by USCIS examiner and converse with the examiner, as well as, be able to write out a sentence and read a paragraph. There are certain exceptions for applicants over fifty years of age or for those who cannot comply due to a physical, developmental, or mental disability.
d. US History and Government Test:
All applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the fundamentals of United States history and government. The recently revised test places an emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. For a list of 100 test questions see: http://tinyurl.com/57sarh. If an applicant does not pass at the initial interview, the officer will schedule a second interview within 90 days.
Reproduced from the Indian Society of Worcester’s newsletter where the article written by our attorney , Hanishi T. Ali, was oringally published: http://www.iswonline.org/eSandesh/CommunityOrgs.htm