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Posts Tagged ‘Green card

EB-5 Progam Rewards Wealthy Foreign Investors with a Green-card

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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.

Written by MithrasLaw

March 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

U.S. Tax Implications for Green Card Holders

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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.

Written by MithrasLaw

January 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Green Card Re-designed to Combat and Deter Immigration Fraud

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has redesigned the Permanent Resident card – commonly known as the “Green Card” – to combat and deter immigration fraud.
The re-designed Green Card, which has begun to be issued since May 2010, is now colored green has begun to be issued and incorporates the latest security features and state of the art technology.  The Green Card has been redesigned to prevent counterfeiting, obstruct tampering, and facilitate accurate authentication.
The main features of the redesigned Green Card are secure optical media, holographic images, laser engraved fingerprints and high resolution micro-images, all of which make it nearly impossible to reproduce.  The redesigned card also incorporates tighter integration of the card design with personalized elements which make it difficult to alter the card if stolen.  For instance, the card has special ink which creates color shifts in visual designs and fine-lined artwork and complex architecture which incorporate patterns that make it nearly impossible to reproduce, according to the USCIS. In addition, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) capability will enable Customs and Border protection officer at ports of entry to read unique serial numbers from a distance and compare the information to the personal data on file. The card’s ultra-violet technology and tactile clues allow for accurate authentication at border crossings.
If you apply for renewal or replacement of your present Green Card, USCIS will issue the redesigned card.  If you have an existing Green Card with an expiration date, they will remain valid until they expire.  USCIS has recommended that holders of card without an expiration date apply to replace their cards with the redesigned version.  The current cost of renewing or replacing the Green card is $370.

Written by MithrasLaw

June 14, 2010 at 11:00 am

The Importance of Maintaining Your Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) Status

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Lawful immigrants work hard and wait for years to obtain a lawful permanent residence (LPR) status or a green-card.  Many, however, forget the important requirement of maintaining their lawful permanent residence status on obtaining the long-awaited green-card.  This article discusses the factors that can be viewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (CBP) as abandonment of LPR status and provides pointers on how to preserve your green-card.
In today’s globalized economy many immigrants, after receiving a green card, decide to take up career opportunities abroad on a short-term basis or decide to return to their home country for a few years to take care of their ailing parents.  Whether you have obtained a green card through employment or a family, it is essential to understand the factors that may lead to a determination of abandonment of LPR status.
Some green card holders incorrectly believe that as long as they enter the United States within a 12-month period they will not be at risk of losing their green-card. Although it is generally true that a green-card can be presented at the port-entry after a temporary absence abroad, not exceeding 12 months, it is not an absolute rule. So, the fact that a green-card holder enters the United States each year, within the 12 month-period from the last departure, may not be sufficient and s/he could still be found to have abandoned his or her LPR status. On the other hand, a green-card holder who lives outside the United States for over a year is not regarded as automatically abandoning his or her green-card either.
This may sound very confusing but in essence whether one has abandoned his or her LPR status or green-card turns on “intent” of the green-card holder rather than solely on length of time outside the United States. To determine abandonment, officials consider factors such as reasons for extended or frequent absences from the United States; family or property ties abroad; business ties abroad; conduct while outside of the United States, such as voting in foreign elections; and failure to file U.S. Income tax returns. Intent of the LPR is a key factor and the courts will look at whether the LPR had intent to return to the United States as a home or place of employment.
Based on case law, green-card holders that have taken up permanent residency or citizenship in another country or green-card holders that have taken up employment or been long-term students outside the United States have not had positive results. On the other hand the courts have been more understanding to green-card holders who needed to remain overseas with family members who were under political threat and to those that needed to care for their terminally ill family members.
If you, as a green-card holder, plan to take a lengthy trip remain outside the United States it is prudent to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney and to plan preservation of your green-card. Filing for a re-entry permit before your departure from the United States, is one such option. Although, a re-entry permit does not guarantee your return in to the United States, it is always a good idea to get it, whether or not you intend to remain outside the United States for longer than a year as it minimizes the risk of aggressive questioning at the port of entry and indicates to CBP that your trip abroad was of temporary nature and you had an intent to return to the United States at the end of your stay abroad.
In addition, it is fitting to mention here that if you as a LPR or green-card holder intend to live or work outside the United States for an extended period and your ultimate goal is to naturalize and become a U.S. Citizen, you should also seek legal advice on the impact it can have on your eligibility for naturalization.  LPRs who stay away from the United States for extended periods also run the risk of being disqualified from naturalization.

Written by MithrasLaw

May 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

Is a Green-card Holder Spouse’s Right to Obtain Citizenship after a Divorce Jeopardized?

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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

Written by MithrasLaw

January 29, 2010 at 10:21 am

A New USCIS Field Office Opens in Massachusetts

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) yesterday opened the state’s only field office outside Boston, in Lawrence, where immigrants in Northern and Central Massachusetts can apply for work permits, green cards, citizenship, and other immigration related benefits.

The Globe reported that in Massachusetts, citizenship applications declined by almost half since 2007, to 15,652 this year. Green card applications dropped from 10,266 in 2007 to 7,970 this budget year which ends on September 30th.

Associated Press reported that as a result of the poor economy the federal government is collecting $282 million less than expected from the fee increases this budget year. It remains to be seen whether this large shortfall will result in another round of fee increases or not.

Written by MithrasLaw

September 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Thinking of Applying for a Green Card for your Parents or Other Immediate relatives – Now is a Great Time!

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Have you been thinking of applying for a green card for your parents or other immediate relatives who are living abroad and that you would like to bring to the U.S.? If so, now is a great time to consider filing a petition for your immediate relatives, as projected times to complete processing are at an all time low. This article discusses the basics of benefits, eligibility criteria, and process of applying for a green card for an immediate relative, but it cannot be considered legal advice or replace the value of an individual consult with an immigration attorney who is able conduct a complete analysis based on  individual circumstances.

Immediate Relatives:

Immediate relatives are the most favored category of family members and are not subject to numerical limits, which in essence means that they are immediately eligible to apply for a visa. This also means that immediate relatives are not subject to the visa allocation system as other family based green card preference categories. Immediate relatives include:

  • Parents of U.S. Citizens who are over 21 years old,
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years old) of U.S. Citizens, and
  • Spouses of U.S. Citizens.


Benefits of a legal permanent resident or a green card are several:

  • Ability to enter the United States without requiring a visa ;
  • Ability to take up gainful employment upon arriving into the United States without requiring a sponsor or a pre-arrange an approved job offer.
  • Ability to apply for a U.S. Citizenship eventually

Eligibility Criteria:

In order to be able sponsor an immediate relative you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and provide documentation such as a naturalization certificate and/or a U.S. passport to show your status
  • Meet an income threshold and support the relative you are sponsoring at 125% above the mandated poverty line.

Process :

  1. It must be shown that the immediate relative being sponsored is eligible for immigration and that a qualifying family relationship exists and that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. It must also be shown that the immediate relative is admissible to the United States and not deportable.
  2. In most family sponsored immigrant visa cases, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident must file an immigrant visa petition on Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative);
  3. Concurrent filing of the immigrant visa petition and the application for permanent residence is allowed in certain family sponsored cases, and this is called filing for an adjustment of status application, filed on Form I-485. The biggest advantage of adjusting status is the ability of the immediate relative to get the permanent status i.e. green card without having to leave the United States. To take advantage of the adjustment of status process, the immediate relative of the U.S. citizen must not only be in the U.S. but must also have proof of  lawful entry in to the United States. However, the U.S. citizen sponsor must be aware of the legal concept of non-immigrant intent and that when an immediate relative entered into the United States with a visitor’s visa s/he demonstrated an intent to return to her/his home country and that applying for a lawful permanent resident status could be perceived to be contrary to the intent represented and therefore could be considered a violation of her or his visa terms. Therefore, in situations where an adjustment of status is sought, it is advisable to consult an immigration attorney.

As mentioned earlier, the turnaround time for a green card for an immediate relative along with concurrent filing for an adjustment of status is relatively fast at present and is taking approximately 5 months at the time of writing this article. So, if you have been thinking about applying for a green card for any of your immediate relatives – now is a great time to take advantage!

Reproduced from Lokvani where the article written by our attorney , Hanishi T. Ali, was orignally published:

Written by MithrasLaw

September 7, 2009 at 2:44 am

USCIS Deputy Director addresses Employment Based Visa Wait Times

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Mike Aytes, the Acting Deputy Director of the  United States and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently addressed questions regarding the volume of employment-based petitions and delays that have occurred in employment-based visa petition and adjustment application processing in late 2007 and early 2008.

According to USCIS employers filed more than 234,000 petitions to sponsor foreign workers (Form I-140) as the Department of Labor cleared a large backlog of labor certification applications and implemented new regulations. Adjustment-of-status application filings also soared to nearly 300,000.

Aytes said that the USCIS is working towards proving more information on its website so that applicants are able to better gauge as to how many people are waiting in line with pending adjustment applications or how long it may be before USCIS can process and approve an individual’s application.

Aytes also mentioned that USCIS has taken the following steps to ensure efficiency:

  • USCIS has increased the emphasis on processing employment-based petitions. The USCIS goal is to complete adjudication on the older I-140 petitions and to process newer petitions within our targeted processing time of four months. USCIS is making progress toward this goal and anticipates reaching this goal by the end of September 2009.
  • USCIS is issuing employment authorization documents valid for two years, as needed.
  • USCIS is working with the State Department to make sure every available visa number is used. In 2007, more visas were available in the family-based categories than were needed, so as permitted by law, USCIS transferred those available family-based visas for use in the employment-based application process.

Written by MithrasLaw

April 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

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