Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holiday Greetings from ABG

Dear friends, we know that you are likely traveling to visit family or busy getting your meals prepared for today, but we at Artisan Business Group wanted to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! God bless you all! Hopefully we will see you in Seattle December 3.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

EB-5 regional centers for sale?

Buyers and project developers are seeking inactive EB-5 regional centers that are seeking a new owner or partner, any interested RC owners, please feel free to contact us at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Final Call! Seattle EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop Dec. 3, 2014

Final Call!  Learn what is going on with EB-5 market in China!  Artisan Business Group Inc. is to host the Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop December 3, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Process Workshop will focus on exploring alternative finance through EB-5 immigrant investors program. Register today at http://eb5seattle.eventbrite.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

President’s Executive Action on Immigration – Content and Preliminary Analysis of What it Means for Businesses and Compliance

(Source: Laura Foote Reiff of Greenberg Traurig) On November 20, 2014, President Obama released the long-anticipated “Executive Action” on immigration reform. See herehere and here. We will also post additional materials made available. Late last summer, the President had postponed the release of such action until after the mid-term elections. Despite the cries of overreaching and lack of authority by the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate, the President has now released a plan to begin immediately the process of implementing some new policies through published guidance and to begin implementation of other policies through proposed regulatory changes. Some opposed to these actions have vowed to block the implementation through judicial intervention, attempts to defund the programs and potentially through other political means. 

We will monitor the status of each change and post updates as they become available. The following is a brief summary of the Executive proposed actions that will impact business. We have divided them broadly into three categories: 1) Changes done through guidance; 2) Changes that will need regulatory action; and 3) Changes that are still being discussed through a “Presidential Memorandum” process.
Administration Guidance without New Regulation       
  • Expansion of Deferred Action. Provide deferred action with employment authorization and advance parole, to include:
    • Parents of U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. (Must have lived in the U.S. for 5 years and must have entered by January 1, 2010.)
    • Expansion of current Deferred Action Program to include Individuals who have resided in the U.S. for 5 years or more. There will no longer be an age limit.
  • Parole in Place. Expand PIP eligibility and confirm that Matter of Arrabally & Yerrabelly applies to all who depart and return on advance parole.
  • National interest waivers available for those in positions to create jobs, and those fulfilling shortage occupations.
  • Exemption from the H-1B cap. Interpret the term “affiliated or related nonprofit entity” to an institution of higher education for H-1B cap-exemption purposes under INA §214(g)(5)(A) more flexibly.
Regulatory Changes through the Administration Procedure Act/Federal Register
  • Enable entrepreneurs to be paroled into the U.S. and work if they are researchers, inventors or founders of businesses.
  • Expand availability of optional practical training for graduating F-1s:
    • Make the additional time available for STEM OPT graduates and expand the definition of STEM.
  • Early Adjustment. Enable individuals who are eligible to apply for adjustment of status, but for a non-current priority date, to file for adjustment and receive work authorization and advance parole.
  • Work authorization for spouses of H-1Bs. Finalize pending regulation.
  • Improve the L-1 adjudicative process:
    • Release of guidance on L-1Bs.
Presidential Memorandum on Visa Modernization – Further Discussion
  • Recapturing permanent resident numbers based on numbers allocated by Congress but left unused. When the government is unable to issue the allocated immigrant visa numbers for preference immigrants in a particular fiscal year, despite sufficient demand for such immigrant visa numbers, then the Department of State will ensure those unused immigrant visa numbers are used in subsequent years, in order to better effect Congressional objectives.
  • Derivative spouses and children not counted toward preference quotas.
  • Other important issues related to help revise the visa process for businesses.
Compliance Concerns with the extension of Deferred Action
Extensions of temporary relief for workers already in the U.S. could make their status more confusing to employers and put business owners in an untenable position with regard to employment eligibility verification compliance. Employers are particularly vulnerable when a current employee comes forward and reveals that s/he has been working for the company under a false identity and asks the employer to provide evidence of his/her employment history in order to take advantage of Executive Relief. An employer faces civil and potentially criminal liability for past hiring of unauthorized workers and also may face discrimination charges for hiring newly documented workers who previously presented fraudulent documents. Additionally, employers who do provide documentation to unauthorized workers may be identified as a target for future government enforcement activity. 

Legislation to permanently address many of the items identified in the President’s executive action is still very much needed. We will continue to monitor and bring our readers updates as these initiatives, and reactions to them, unfold.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

ABG hosts inbound migration agents in Chicago

Artisan Business Group is hosting an inbound group of Chinese migration agents from northeast China. The group discussed the latest trends of EB-5 program and President Obama's executive action. To learn more about EB-5 immigrant investor program, contact us at artisanbusiness@gmail.com or 217-899-6661.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

ABG team visits Southern California

ABG team is visiting EB-5 project clients in Irvine and Los Angeles Southern California today. Southern California is the number one destination for EB-5 investors, Chinese investors have specific interest in investing real estate opportunities in Irvine and Greater LA area. ABG has been active in consulting with project developers in CA. For more information about EB-5 program, please contact us at artisanbusiness@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

FAQs posted on Chinese 10 year mutliple-entry visas

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 10 year multiple-entry visas have been posted by www.mychinavisa.com. This is great news for the many business travelers in the EB-5 industry who travel frequently to China.

1. Who is eligible for a 10-year visa?
All US passport holders can apply for a 10-year multiple-entry visa in the following categories: tourist (L), business (M), and family visit (Q2 & S2). US passport holders who apply for a student visa (X) will get 5 years. 10-year visas are not available to non-US citizens.

2. How long can I stay in China on a 10-year visa?
For 10-year multiple-entry visas, the duration of stay (the number of days you can stay in China per entry) is 60 days for L & M visas; 90 days for S2 visas and 120 days for Q2 visas.
 
3. Can I still get a 10-year visa if I need longer stays in China?
If you wish to stay longer than what is allowed under a 10-year visa (60 days for L & M, 90 days for S2, 120 days for Q2), you must make a special request and provide documents showing reasons for such a request. It will then be handled on a case-by-case basis by the visa officer. Please keep in mind that such requests may complicate your application.

4. Can I work in China with a 10-year visa?
No. The 10-year visa is for short term tourist or business visits only. If you want to work in China, you must obtain a work visa.

5. Does it cost more to get a 10-year visa?
No. The cost of a 10-year visa is the same as other shorter term visas for US citizens.

6. Does it take longer to get a 10-year visa?
No. The processing time remains the same. CVSC has 4 levels of service, regular (6+ business days), express (4-5 business days), rush (2-3 business days) and emergency (24 hours).

7. Are there any special requirements for a 10-year visa?
No. The requirements for a 10-year visa are the same as that of a 1-year visa. Our website, www.mychinavisa.com, always has up to date information. You can check requirements by visiting our site.

8. My passport expires in less than 10 years. Can I still get the 10-year visa?
Yes. You can get a 10-year visa as long as your passport is valid for more than one year. Once you get a 10-year visa, you can travel on this passport even after it expires, provided it is used together with a valid new US passport bearing the same name, sex, date of birth and place of birth. If any changes are made to the above mentioned information on the new passport, you must apply for a new visa.
 
 
9. I'm going to China for a scientific conference. Can I get a 10-year visa?
No. As mentioned earlier, 10-year visas are only available in the L, M, Q2 and S2 categories. Among them, the M visa is for business people going to China for business and trade purposes. People who visit China for cultural and educational exchanges and academic conferences are granted F visas, which are generally good for 6 months or 1 year. 
 
10. The Chinese Visa Application Form does not have a 10-year option. What do I do?
You can make a request for a 10-year visa on the Chinese Visa Application Form. On Section 2.2, you can choose "Other" and write "10 Years" in the blank space.
 
11. I just received a Chinese visa that is good for 1 year. Can I have it changed to 10 years?
No. The Chinese Embassy will not issue a new visa if your current visa has more than 3 months of validity remaining. You should use your current visa and apply for a new one when the current visa expires, at which time you will be able to get a 10-year visa as long as you apply for an L, M, Q2 or S2 visa.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NYC client visits ABG office

New York City client visits the Springfield office of Artisan Business Group to discuss market entry and capital raising strategies for its newly approved EB-5 regional center and a mixed use real estate project in New York. The project is expected to be announced in Chinese market in January 2015. Artisan Business Group has successfully secured a Chinese migration agent agreement for the client. For more information about our consulting services, please call 217-899-6661 today. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Report from China: smaller investment projects gain popularity

As market conditions are constantly changing in Chinese investors market, smaller regional center EB-5 projects (seeking 20-30 investors) and direct EB-5 projects (specifically well known franchise restaurants) are becoming more popular with both migration agents and investors. Most of investors have two major concerns when picking the right project to invest: 1) how to satisfy job creation requirements in order to get green card; 2) how to get their investment capital paid back after five years. Investors perception for smaller projects is that the small projects are more easy to be completed and succeed in marketplace and they are easier to understand from business perspective.  Larger projects may encounter some unknown factors or challenges during the longer life cycle of capital raising and construction as well as business operations.  Assisted living facilities and student housing projects, smaller mixed use development projects, and name brand direct EB-5 projects are getting more attractions among Chinese investors.  To learn more about today's EB-5 market conditions and trends in 2015, please consult with us now.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FAQs on EB-5 Marketing

It is expected there are more market changes in China due to many reasons such as EB-5 retrogression, longer USCIS processing times and expiration of the EB-5 regional center program in Sept 2015. EB-5 developers may need to come up new approaches to such changes in order to stay competitive and effectively raise capital in China. Here are some answers for questions recently raised by blog readers:

1) How can I respond to Chinese migration agents when asking for early payment of finder fees?
Generally speaking, many Chinese migration agents are expecting to be paid partially as soon as investors received USCIS confirmation on their petitions. It is wise to ensure that your migration agents are reliable and trustworthy prior to releasing finder fees.

2) When is the investor's EB-5 fund to be released?
Recently Chinese migration agents are more willing to discuss with you on the matter of fund's early release. For instance, partial funds may be released to project upon the confirmation of investor's petition filing by USCIS. The balance may be released on certain schedule, however specific release schedule needs to be negotiated with migration agents.

3) Are there any negative impacts when US government issues 10-year visa to Chinese citizens?
10-year visas are issued for business & tourism purposes only, there is no major impact on EB-5 program. Chinese investors continue to be interested in obtaining immigration status through EB-5 program.

4) Is it to late to promote our EB-5 projects in China? 
No, it is never late to introduce new projects. In fact, this is the best timing (prior to summer 2015).   


5) Are we seeing a slow Chinese market in 2015? 
Yes, the market might become slower in the 2nd half of 2015.However, the needs of Chinese investor continue to be high in next few years as many more students are coming to the US for study (US government start issuing 5-year visa to Chinese students Nov 12, 2014) and find more difficulties to stay after graduation. EB-5 program is one of the best solutions for these students from China.


To learn more about EB-5 program and promote projects in Chinese market, please feel free to consult with us today.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

It Is Official!

For those who are thinking about getting a Chinese visa - and also those who are frequent business travelers to China - it is OFFICIAL! China has started issuing 10-year visas to US citizens!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Report from China: Migration agent disappears


One of the earliest approved licensed migration agent in China has disappeared from all offices in Southern China. The migration agent was one of the first businesses to provide immigration services to Chinese investors working with the UK and Canadian visa programs. The company is reported by local media to have defrauded over 200 families and does not have the capital to return to investors. The authorities are currently investigating the company's recent activities to decide if any legal action is required.To learn more about Chinese migration agents,
join us at Seattle EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop on December 3.

Monday, November 10, 2014

News from China: China, U.S. to extend validity of business, tourist and student visas

China and the United States will grant each other's citizens a business or tourist visa with multiple entries and the maximum validity of ten years. The student visa will also be extended to five years of validity at most with multiple entries.

US President Barack Obama said at APEC in Beijing, a deal he said would improve trade and business ties between the world's two largest economies. Under the deal, which the United States will put into effect on Nov. 12, both countries would extend the terms of multiple entry short-term tourist and business visas to 10 years from one year, the White House said in an accompanying statement. Student visas would be extended to five years from one year.

Find out what impact this new program will bring about to EB-5 market, join us at Seattle EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop on December 3!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Migration agents' perspective: EB-5 market update in China

(Brian Su) I have been traveling with our EB-5 investment and business delegation in Guangzhou and Shenzhen last month. In both public and private settings, I have met nearly 30 migration CEOs and program executives and heard their stories and concerns on the future of EB-5 immigrant investors program.  What I have heard is not very encouraging at all!  Some of the largest migration companies in China are heavily promoting programs in Europe.

Chinese migration agents have specific concerns on EB-5 retrogression, long USCIS processing times and expiration of the EB-5 regional center program in Sept 2015.  Everyone in Chinese migration community is watching closely on Mr. Obama's executive order this winter. If the Executive Order does not include any significant changes or improvements on EB-5 program, it is expected that more Chinese migration agents big or small will switch their business to other countries on a faster pace, especially to work on real estate investment program in Europe and passport for sale program in the Caribbeans. Europeans real estate visa program allows Chinese migration agents to gain instant cash flow with less risks, getting paid quicker is a major reason that we saw the business change for Chinese migration agents in 2014. 

During the China trip, we also met with officials with migration trade association, it is their major concern and worry that their members would take on ill-fated projects. It would become fact that migration agency founders or executives may simply run away when their US project fail. Many small migration agents are financially struggling due to the shut down of Canadian federal investor program, Chinese investors are demanding their fees back. That is why you may have heard that migration agents are demanding to get paid when I-526 is filed and confirmed by USCIS.

The current 14+ month long USCIS adjudication times have discouraged both Chinese agents and investors as well as US project developers.  The expiration of EB-5 regional center program is also going to intensely affect investor market in China. All these factors have made many emigration agents to cautiously taking on more new EB-5 projects.  Many agents said that they prefer to deal with smaller projects from now on. They are waiting to see what happens next few months. 

To learn more about the latest Chinese investor market conditions and EB-5 business trends, please see us at our EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop in Seattle December 3, 2014.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

USCIS Easing of ‘Material Change’ Rules

(Source: Phil Cohen) One of the important new items that came about as a result of the EB-5 Policy Memorandum issued by USCIS on May 30, 2013 relates to a changed definition of what constitutes material change.  Material change is important to  EB-5 submissions in that if the change is considered by USCIS to be material, an amendment or revised application would need to be submitted which would incorporate that change.  Until then, there were 2 key elements of an EB-5 business which, if changed, would have been considered to be a material change by USCIS. 

These two elements are a change to the declared industries of focus and a change to the geographic area of the regional center. 


In the May 30th memo, USCIS added some clarity to some of the material change parameters, stating that a change to the declared industries of focus or a change to the geographic area of focus would no longer require the submission of a formal amendment. In the case of the geographic area of focus the amended area would need to be contiguous with the originally-declared area.

This is great news for the EB-5 community in so much as it now enables EB-5 businesses to bypass the lengthy and often tedious process of submitting an amendment for an existing project or even for a new project.

The Downside
The downside to this change, however, is that USCIS will still want to review any changes to the original plan for approval at the time that the investor submits their I-526.  This means that while the change can be developed and submitted more quickly, the first investors on a given project must now shoulder some of the risk because they will not know if the EB-5 project changes will be approved until the I-526 itself is approved.  For those who are newer to EB-5 or just starting an EB-5 regional center, there is still, arguably, some benefit to submitting for a formal amendment in order to be able to present investors with a more solid deal that will have already been reviewed and approved by USCIS.
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Phil Cohen is the founder and President of Strategic Element (www.strategicelementconsulting.com), a company that focuses on developing regional centers, EB-5 business plans and custom 'direct' EB-5 projects for its clients.

Congratulations to American Dream Fund!

Congratulations to American Dream Fund (ADF)!  ADF’s W Hotel in Hollywood California just received an I-829 approval!!  This is an absolutely great news for EB-5 investors who invested in this project!  Artisan Business Group is proud to be the China market entry consultant on this project. For more information about EB-5 immigrant investor program, please contact us at artisanbusiness@gmail.com or call 217-899-6661.