David North's blog

Marriage Fraud and Murder, This Time in Spades

By David North, December 18, 2015

It turns out that there is an element of immigration-related marriage fraud in the San Bernardino massacre, a tragic linkage (marriage fraud and murder) that I have noted before.

Gunman Syed Rizwan Farook's neighbor and long-time friend, Enrique Marquez, Jr. — the person who bought the guns for the killers — had a sham marriage with the sister of Farook's sister-in-law, according to the papers this morning. Marquez was paid $200 a month for this arrangement, but who paid him is not reported. Read more...

Yet Another Chinese Alien Sues Yet Another Chinese American in EB-5 Case

By David North, December 17, 2015

[Note: This posting has been corrected since its original publication, based on a note from Mr. Hu.]

This is getting to be monotonous.

Yet another Chinese national (Shoumin Zhang) has sued a Chinese American (John Deyong Hu), Ms. Zhang's former lawyer, in connection with an EB-5 matter.

Ms. Zhang invested in a real estate deal in Orange County, Calif. She was told that the property that housed the project was worth $8 million and that she would get a guaranteed return on her investment. Read more...

EB-5 to Be Extended for another Nine and a Half Months

By David North, December 16, 2015

The EB-5 program — as is, with no changes — will be extended through September 30, 2016.

This is what will happen if the Senate goes along with the current text of the omnibus funding bill that has passed the House, and if, as expected, the president signs the bill. Read more...

Let's Use a More Accurate Set of Initials for the OPT Program: AAA

By David North, December 15, 2015

The most recent survey of foreign students, Open Doors, shows substantial growth in the OPT program and also reports nations of origin for these recent alien alumni of U.S. colleges and universities. Read more...

Large Number of Cold Feet Among Those Applying for the K-1 (Fiancé) Visa

By David North, December 14, 2015

The amazingly high approval rate (99.7 percent in 2014) for K-1 visa applications — that's the fiancé visa used by, among others, the woman shooter in the San Bernardino massacre — puzzles me. In an effort to find out more about that rate, discussed previously, I delved more deeply into K-1 visa process.

What I found sheds minimal additional light on the basic question of the cause for the high approval rate (beyond official negligence), but I accidentally obtained some interesting information on this form of immigration by marriage.

The finding: Close to half of the aliens initially slated for K-1 visas (and marriages) did not get married in the United States as planned, with cold feet on the part of aliens playing a more significant role in this attrition than any other cause. Read more...

Sens. Cruz and Sessions Introduce H-1B Reduction/Reform Bill

By David North, December 11, 2015

In sharp contrast to the Grassley-Durbin bill calling for some useful modifications of the H-1B program, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have introduced legislation that would just about terminate the H-1B worker program, as they announced in a press release. Read more...

A Bird's-Eye View of the Pending EB-5 Legislation

By David North, December 8, 2015

It is useful to take both a bird's-eye view of the pending EB-5 legislation, as well as looking at it from the worm's vantage point.

The heart of the EB-5 program faces termination or renewal this coming Friday (December 11); this is the widely used portion of the law that grants a family-sized set of green cards to rich aliens who make pooled, private-sector investments of $500,000 through Homeland Security-licensed regional centers. A rarely used segment of the program, which gives the same set of green cards to aliens investing in, and managing, projects worth $1 million or more, will continue regardless of what Congress does to the other part of the program. Read more...

Immigration Daily Takes a Highly Critical View of the EB-5 Program

By David North, December 7, 2015

When a trade journal publishes a sharply critical editorial on an element of its own trade, outsiders should pay attention.

Immigration Daily is a website written by and for immigration lawyers. As one would expect, it generally takes a mas-migration point of view, and it is critical of what it sees as inappropriate attempts to limit immigration (though it has been known to reprint a blog or two of mine).

In this context, Immigration Daily's searing criticism of the current EB-5 program, much of which will expire on December 11 unless Congress does something about it, is of particular importance. Read more...

The Government Gets It Right (Sometimes) with EB-5 and H-1B

By David North, December 7, 2015

While my colleagues and I are often critical of how the government handles immigration matters, sometimes it does things correctly (and quietly) — and we should report that when it happens.

I have in mind what appears to be an EB-5 decision in Upstate New York, and two H-1B decisions elsewhere in the country. Read more...

A New Visa to Worry About: The K-1 for Intended Spouses

By David North, December 3, 2015

I have no idea whether the State Department official who interviewed Tashfeen Malik, the woman with a Pakistani passport who was involved in the shooting in San Bernardino yesterday, could have sensed her future, murderous behavior. I doubt it.

I do know that someone granted her a K-1 visa (the "Fiancé(e) Visa" for the prospective spouse of a citizen), that she came to the United States on this visa, and subsequently joined her citizen husband, Syed Farook, in the mass killing at the social services center.

What may not be known about the K-1 visa is that it is practically never denied. Read more...

A Modest Proposal: Use the EB-5 Program to Cut the National Debt

By David North, December 2, 2015

The heart of the immigrant investor (EB-5) program is scheduled for termination or renewal on December 11; if it is kept alive at all, it should be converted to a scheme that reduces the national debt by $10 billion a year.

Currently the program, which causes the admission of 10,000 investors and family members each year, serves as a conduit for money from rich Chinese (who dominate the program) to rich Americans. It provides very low interest loans, in effect, from one elite to another, and is largely involved in funding real estate deals in glitzy parts of New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Read more...

Mr. Minci's (E-2) Beauty Shop and the Bankrupt H-2B Employer

By David North, December 2, 2015

Two federal court cases have emerged recently, both shedding some light on the actual operations of our immigration system.

One, involving a treaty investor from Canada under the E-2 nonimmigrant program, shows us how small an investment one can deploy to enter the program; the other, involving a shipyard employing and exploiting H-2B workers, demonstrates how the bankruptcy courts can ease an employer's penalties for labor trafficking. Read more...

Tightening L-1 Rules in Grassley/Durbin Bill and Canada's Approach

By David North, November 30, 2015

The proposed S. 2266, as introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D- Ill.), will, in addition to the previously described H-1B reforms, make some major changes in the L-1 foreign workers program, which up to now has had no labor market protections at all.

The L-1 program allows multinational firms to move professional employees into the United States on a temporary basis. In most years the admissions of such workers have been at about the level of H-1B admissions, which in FY 2013 were a little above 500,000 for the L-1s and a little below that for the H-1Bs. Read more...

EB-5 Woes: Another Las Vegas Casino, Two Restaurants, and an H-1B Visa

By David North, November 30, 2015

As the December 11 deadline approaches for the termination — or renewal — of the heart of the EB-5 program, three more negative stories have emerged about various aspects of the program. We have not reported on any of them before.

They involve yet another Las Vegas casino, mismanaged California restaurants, and an effort to create an H-1B visa artificially to ensure the completion of an EB-5 investment. Read more...

EB-5 Gets Another Black Eye – Maybe Two of Them

By David North, November 25, 2015

The EB-5 program suffered from one scandal last week in California (Chinese Americans cheating Chinese aliens) and maybe another as the FBI raided a major EB-5-supported property in Arizona.

There's more information on the California case than the Arizona one, but the latter has the more interesting cast of characters. Read more...

How the Grassley-Durbin Bill Allocates the 65,000 H-1B Visas

By David North, November 24, 2015

One of the most interesting elements of S. 2266, the bill proposed by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) regarding the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant worker programs, is the proposed distribution of H-1B petitions should there be, as there has been recently, more petitions than the 65,000 slots permitted. Read more...

Sens. Grassley and Durbin Propose H-1B and L-1 Program Reforms

By David North, November 23, 2015

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have introduced S. 2266, a comprehensive reform bill for the H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant worker programs. It would, if enacted as now written, eliminate or narrow the abuses of these programs and probably open up some jobs for U.S. workers.

The bill, however, neither terminates the programs nor reduces the numerical ceilings, as one might wish.

Perhaps the most useful role of the bill is to put employers into a defensive posture so that the conversation is less about expanding the number of H-1B visas and more about the continuing abuses in the two foreign worker programs. Read more...

Their Eye Is on the Sparrow — USCIS Wastes More Time on Tiny Populations

By David North, November 23, 2015

Maybe it's the institutional version of an uncontrollable nervous tick, but USCIS seems hell-bent on wasting time on tiny populations.

We have seen the care that it lavishes on the abused step-parents of citizens (they get green cards) and the investors in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who are rich enough to be regarded as investors, but too poor to pay modest agency fees (they get a free ride).

Today's tiny population is aliens who have been in the United States for two years and who have filed Form N-300 declaring their intent to file for naturalization later. Read more...

Why Does DHS Perpetuate a Business where Most Will Lose Their Shirts?

By David North, November 19, 2015

Why would a federal agency keep expanding a specific type of immigration-related business even though most participants will surely lose their shirts?

Is it because the agency does not know what it is doing?

Or, as I have come to believe, is it a cynical plot by some Democrats to sacrifice a bunch of small-town entrepreneurs so that the underlying immigrant investor (EB-5) program will continue, even though most of the American players will go out of business?

I kick myself for not figuring this out earlier. Read more...

Immigration Trivia: What do Andorra and Vanuatu Have that Moldova Lacks

By David North, November 18, 2015

Here's a U.S. immigration trivia question based on today's Federal Register:

What do Andorra and Vanuatu have in common that Moldova lacks?

Geography mavens would, of course, answer that Andorra and Vanuatu both have half-French connections and Moldova does not, and they would be right. Read more...

Secrecy Shrouds Case that Pitted Iranian-American IJ Against Her Bosses

By David North, November 17, 2015

Perhaps it is a fantasy, but it would be nice if more immigration-related civil law suits went to trial and we could all hear the evidence and the judge's decision.

Instead they often get settled, and the settlement is kept secret.

That's what happened earlier this month in an odd case in which an Iranian-American immigration judge sued her bosses in the U.S. Department of Justice. As we reported in an earlier posting, Judge Ashley Tabbador of the Los Angeles immigration court sued the attorney general (her ultimate boss) when intermediary bosses decided that she should not hear cases involving Iranians. Read more...

Vermonters Are Clever When It Comes to Immigration Rules

By David North, November 16, 2015

When it comes to working with, or perhaps manipulating, the immigration rules, Vermonters are clever, and/or lucky. This is the home state, after all, of the current ranking member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); that's the committee that handles immigration matters.

We know that over the years Vermont has gotten quite substantial inputs of alien capital from the EB-5 immigrant investor program for its ski resorts, with a bare minimum of the scandals that beset that program elsewhere, such as in South Dakota. Read more...

Much Press Coverage for a Single ALJ in the Immigration Field

By David North, November 13, 2015

There's a remarkable bit of press coverage currently available (behind a pay wall) regarding a relatively new administrative law judge working in the immigration field for the Department of Justice, and her first five decisions in a year on the bench.

She is Judge Stacy Paddack, one of two ALJs on the staff of the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), and her work has been dissected (in a friendly way) by Law360, a press service that focuses on legal matters. Read more...

New York Times Finally Gets It Partially Right on the H-1B Program

By David North, November 12, 2015

You know it's going to be a good day when the New York Times, on the front page and above the fold, runs an article that is critical of the H-1B program, as it did Wednesday.

Then the sun shines and you find lots of even more damning material, and excellent graphics, on the jump page (with a full page devoted to this story.) Read more...

Ex-CIA Director Says "Unvetted" Foreign Workers Are Baggage Handlers

By David North, November 10, 2015

In the wake of a probable smuggled-on bomb causing the latest airplane disaster (over the Sinai), former CIA Director James Woolsey has pointed out the problem of using lightly screened foreign workers as baggage handlers at airports.

Further, it was noted by others that an airport contractor with the unfortunate initials ISS has hired Somali refugees to work on planes at the Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. Read more...

You Might Regard This Bill as a Compliment to the Labor Department

By David North, November 10, 2015

The let's-exploit-foreign-workers-even-more bunch on Capitol Hill has just introduced a piece of legislation that might be regarded as a compliment to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL). (Disclosure: I worked there more than three decades ago.)

Three Republican congressmen have introduced what they call the SEASON Act to ease the minimal existing regulations on the H-2B program for unskilled, non-agricultural foreign workers, and to expand the numbers of be admitted each year, without actually saying so.

The SEASON Act would also make it possible for these "seasonal" workers to stay in the country for up to three years at a time if their employers so desire. That's a long season! Read more...

Generous Obama Administration Gives H-2A Shepherds a Raise to $5.80 an Hour

By David North, November 6, 2015

The Obama administration, supposedly the friend of both migrants and the working man, has just given the nonimmigrant shepherds of the American West their first raise in about 20 years — they are to get $5.80 an hour plus housing (often a tent) and the materials for their meals (which the shepherds must cook for themselves), effective November 16.

In return, the shepherds watch their sheep by night, to use an old phrase, or, to use a newer one, are on duty 24/7. Read more...

Yet Another EB-5 Promoter Swindles Alien Investors, This Time in Florida

By David North, November 6, 2015

It is getting to be a formula.

Yet another EB-5 promoter has swindled millions from alien investors, presumably her fellow Chinese, and used the money to buy a yacht and a $100,000 Mercedes among other things, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (not DHS) has broken the case. Read more...

Sen. Feinstein Announces She Is Opposed to the EB-5 Program

By David North, November 4, 2015

Those of us opposed to the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program got a piece of good news today: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she is opposed to its renewal. The heart of it is due to expire on December 11, unless Congress acts before then.

The senator is in a key position to argue against the renewal; she is a senior member of the Senate immigration subcommittee and the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration legislation. Read more...

Little Dominica as a Laboratory for Immigrant Investor Rules

By David North, November 3, 2015

The American states, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, are laboratories for democracy. One can say that same thing about nations, even small ones, and immigration laws. Read more...