David North's blog

Is USCIS Ignoring a $100 Million-a-Year-Plus Cash Cow?

By David North, September 15, 2015

One of the federal programs that comes up for renewal — or death — at the end of this month levies an extra $2,000 per H-1B visa charge on companies that use large numbers of H-1B workers.

The government carefully does not publish data on this matter, but my best guess is that it is worth rather more than $100 million annually to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which collects fees for approved H-1B petitions. Read more...

The Slowly Unraveling H-1B Scandal at Wright State University in Ohio

By David North, September 14, 2015

The provost at Wright State University, near Dayton, Ohio, has lost his job as a result of an internal investigation into the institution's use of the H-1B program; a second official has been demoted and may lose his tenured teaching status; and a third has been fired.

It sounds very much like the university found out about the problems before DHS did, but that's a widespread pattern. An AP story indicates that a federal investigation is ongoing, but did not name the agency doing it. Read more...

When an Immigration Matter Is Handled Well, We Should Say So

By David North, September 10, 2015

Sometimes, despite the odds, something commendable happens within the immigration system and we should take notice.

I ran into two quite separate instances of this lately, one in which the congratulations should be shared by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and in the other the kudos go to actors in the EB-5 program. Read more...

Washington Post Gets an Immigration Issue Right – End EB-5!

By David North, September 8, 2015

Rarely is the Washington Post right on immigration issues, but its lead editorial on Labor Day was exactly on target — it said that the nation should terminate the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program.

The main part of the program — which grants a full set of green cards to an alien family putting $500,000 into a Department of Homeland Security-approved, but not guaranteed, investment, is due to expire at the end of the month, just 22 days from now. The Post sees it as "corporate welfare". Read more...

EB-5 Roundup: Visas, Currency Controls, and Rich Kids

By David North, September 4, 2015

If your lawyer tells you not to something, it is a sure clue that some of his clients have, in fact, done that wrong thing.

Maybe that's especially true in the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program that provides a set of green cards to families investing half a million dollars in DHS-approved, but not guaranteed, investments. Read more...

DHS Adds Yemen to the Temporary Protected Status List

By David North, September 3, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security today added Yemen to the list of countries that have Temporary Protected Status for their citizens – legal or illegal – in the United States, bringing that list to a baker's dozen.

The ruling is effective as of midnight tonight, so that Yemenis in Canada and Mexico (if there are any) can rush to the border to participate. As usual, there is no need to be in legal status in the United States to benefit from this program. Read more...

The Quiet Little Struggle Over Extending the EB-5 Program

By David North, September 3, 2015

There's a quiet — but highly significant — struggle on Capitol Hill these days regarding the extension of the EB-5 program for immigrant investors.

On one side are representatives of the EB-5 middlemen and their big-city allies who would rather leave the current rules in place; on the other are those who want to make sure that the program will not be used to secure green cards for agents of foreign countries, and will be used to encourage investment in rural and depressed urban areas. Read more...

Ex-Vermont State EB-5 Director Stirs Controversy When Hired by EB-5 Project

By David North, August 27, 2015

There are now three states that play, or have played, a role in the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program, and every single one of them has been mired in controversy. (Most EB-5 regional centers are not affiliated with state governments.)

Late last month, Vermont joined the troubled list, along with the deeply flawed program in South Dakota and the one in Michigan, which had lesser problems. Read more...

Another EB-5 Scam: The Dalai Lama's Revenge?

By David North, August 25, 2015

You might call it the Dalai Lama's Revenge; it certainly is yet another one of those EB-5 scandals that pop up every few weeks.

This time the main ingredients are Lobsang Dargey, 41, who calls himself a former Tibetan monk turned real estate tycoon; 252 Chinese nationals who have invested in his EB-5 scams in the state of Washington; and real estate projects bearing the name of Potala — the palace that the Dalai Lama used to live in before being evicted by the Chinese government. Read more...

Sounds Like a Step or Two Backward on E-Filings for USCIS

By David North, August 25, 2015

In the great leap forward to an all-electronic application and decision system, USCIS has just announced that five key applications, currently available for e-filing, must be filed on a paper form starting September 20.

I am not a high-tech person, but this sounds like a retreat to me. Their explanation is: Read more...

An Audacious Would-Be Immigration Double Play

By David North, August 24, 2015

There's a would-be restaurateur out there who has dreamed up an immigration double play that would cause the senior partners at the Tinker, Evers, and Chance law firm to be green with envy.

I won't use his location, but he has placed the following ad on Craigslist:

Seeking an EB-5 Foreign Investor/Partner

Looking to open a large restaurant concept. ... Need a foreign investor with $5M in funds and ability to bring in labor with him for visas.

Chutzpah Squared in the Immigration Courts

By David North, August 21, 2015

The classic example of chutzpah is that of the killer of his parents throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

I don't know if that ever actually happened, but an almost comparable case can be found in recent federal court records.

In this case it is an illegal alien whose marriage (or maybe "marriage") to a citizen was ruled by USCIS to be fraudulent later claiming that he should be given legal status because he had been abused by his wife. Read more...

U.S. and Iran Reach Atomic Deal — DOJ and Iranian-American IJ Also Settle

By David North, August 20, 2015

The governments of the United States, Iran, and five other nations — amidst much public attention — have reached an agreement on atomic energy and sanctions.

Earlier this week, and very quietly, the Department of Justice and one of its immigration judges, an Iranian-American, have settled their differences out of court. For the PACER file on the case, see here. Read more...

Farmers Who Want Workers Who Look Like Them Can Use H-2A Visas

By David North, August 19, 2015

Suppose you are a farmer in Belzoni, Miss., and you need eight farm workers.

If you look it up you will find that Mississippi is tied for 46th (with South Carolina) in the list of states' unemployment rates, with only Alaska, Nevada, and West Virginia having more joblessness. If you go a bit further, to county-by-county data, you will find that your county, Humphreys, ranks 79th out of 82 counties in your state, with an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent.

Since Belzoni is in the highly agricultural Delta area, and farm workers always have higher rates of unemployment than workers generally, you might think that it would be relatively easy to hire your eight workers locally. Read more...

Trump's Illegal Alien Policy Has Welcome Details Discussed by No One Else

By David North, August 17, 2015

Don't get me wrong, as a liberal Democrat I think Donald Trump would be a disaster as president.

On the other hand, I must say that I was impressed by the level of detail in his recently released immigration policy paper.

As Mark Krikorian has written, Trump's position "clearly has advanced the immigration debate." Read more...

A Grim Suggestion about the Young Central American Illegals Now in the U.S.

By David North, August 14, 2015

These are tough decisions to make and we, as a nation, have got them wrong.

I am talking about the unconscious series of decisions that we have been making about the political situation in Central America, notably in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Read more...

GAO Report on EB-5 Is a Mixed Bag: Some Zingers, Some Major Gaps

By David North, August 13, 2015

Wednesday's GAO report on the EB-5 program, "Immigrant Investor Program: Additional Actions Needed to Better Assess Fraud Risks and Economic Benefits", contained some useful elements — such as the finding that USCIS is not trying hard enough to identify fraud and threats to national security — but there were major gaps in what it should have, and could have, covered. Read more...

Quality of DACA Applications Apparently Falls: Now One in Six Is Denied

By David North, August 13, 2015

According to the latest statistics from USCIS, the denial rate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has risen.

Compared to the early months of the program, when disapproved cases were shown as zero, now about one out of six decided cases results in a denial.

Here are the numbers for approved cases, denials, the totals for both categories combined, and the percentage of denials to the total. Data are for initial fillings, excluding renewals. Read more...

Recommended Immigration Reading on H-2Bs, H-1Bs, and Border Tunnels

By David North, August 12, 2015

I see a lot of writing on immigration subjects every day, and while much of it is repetitive or grossly misleading (e.g., "there is a shortage of skilled workers in the United States so we need more foreign workers"), there is the occasional gem. Here are three examples. Read more...

Kin of Crooked Korean Kingpin Caught Up in EB-5 Case

By David North, August 11, 2015

Drip, drip, drip, drip.

They keep emerging: additional indications that the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program is a honey-pot attracting fraud of various kinds, as I reported recently.

While many of these immigrant investor cases relate to citizen and alien middlemen conning rich aliens, this item, which is both investor-centric and one I have not discussed before, is different because it involves the son and daughter-in-law of a corrupt Korean politician and their use (or attempted use) of daddy's funds in the EB-5 program. Read more...

Here's a Case of Bespoke Immigration/Marriage Fraud

By David North, August 9, 2015

In some cases of immigration/marriage fraud it is often a mass-production activity, with a ringleader lining up willing aliens with willing (and paid) citizens to go through phony marriages so that the aliens can secure legal status in the United States, as I reported earlier.

In other instances, it is a single alien who enters into a corrupt deal with an individual citizen, with the alien paying the citizen for the marriage so that the alien can obtain a green card. Read more...

Confession: I Bought Stock in an Outsourcing Company — and It Doubled

By David North, August 6, 2015

In order to keep track of one of the patterns in the immigration field a couple of years ago, I bought 100 shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH). It is a U.S.-based outsourcing firm, best known for hiring large numbers of H-1Bs and then re-selling their services to other companies — at a nice mark-up — to do computer-related work.

My notion was that I might learn something about the H-1B program by simply looking at the CTSH stock price from time to time, and by reading its annual reports. It would be both effortless and, seemingly, perfectly innocent. Read more...

New Bill Would Shed Light on Migrants and Crime

By David North, August 5, 2015

DHS is not very forthcoming with immigration statistics and other basic data. For instance, USCIS even redacts the names of lawyers working on appeals cases, as I reported recently. This general lack of transparency, unfortunately, is contagious, and it extends to how other law enforcement agencies report (or don't report) on aliens and arrests. Read more...

Update: China City Proposal Drops EB-5 References, Changes Name

By David North, August 4, 2015

In late 2013, we described a proposal to turn a bit of pristine Upstate New York wilderness into a massive, apparently mono-ethnic China City theme park to be funded largely by EB-5 immigrant investors. At the time, we quoted from its then gaudy website (much gold and red and traditional Chinese music) to show the multiple internal contradictions in the proposal and the adverse impacts it would have on the environment. Read more...

Justice Dept.: DACA Amnesty Recipients Not a "Protected Class"

By David North, August 3, 2015

An obscure Justice Department entity, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), has just made the citizen/alien/jobs situation a bit more complicated. It has ruled that a former illegal alien who has secured Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status may be discriminated against in the job market because of that status (see details after the chart). This adds yet another layer to the citizenship-alienage-employment hierarchy, as this chart shows: Read more...

Incompetent Fraud Picked Up By USCIS on EB-5 Application

By David North, August 2, 2015

As we all know, USCIS has a low rate of denials in most of its benefit programs.

Sometimes I wonder how much of the fraud it does detect reflects not so much the vigilance of the agency as it does the obvious incompetence of the fraudster.

Routinely the public never sees the denied applications; the only time we get to peek at parts of them is when the alien in question appeals a benefit denial to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), the quasi-judicial review body within USCIS. Read more...

The Case of the Redheaded Illegal Alien

By David North, July 31, 2015

In a courtroom full of illegal alien teenagers, he was the only one with red hair.

Further, he was the tallest, the thinnest, had the best English by far, and was the only one appearing without a family member or lawyer. He was also the only non-Central American appearing a couple of days ago before one of the immigration judges in the Arlington (Va.) court.

From a policy point of view he had another distinction: he was the only one willing to leave the country voluntarily (at his own expense) and the judge quickly granted him Voluntary Departure, a legal status meaning that there will be no deportation report on his U.S. immigration record. The judge said something to the effect "It's nice to have someone willing to leave on his own." Read more...

Law-Breaking Clergymen Now Beneficiaries of Obama Amnesty

By David North, July 27, 2015

Although I am not a religious person, I have long felt that the clergy, and other religious workers, were unlikely to break the law.

I still think that way, even though the administration has managed to put the spotlight on a small group of law-breaking clergy in its efforts to expand amnesty as far as it can. As you can imagine, these illegal aliens will be granted green cards, despite their records. Read more...

Ex-President Bush Spoke (for $200,000) at Event Arranged by EB-5 Suspect

By David North, July 23, 2015

Former President George W. Bush (43) apparently received $200,000 for speaking at a 2012 event in California that was sponsored by a promoter named Bingqing Yang, who has subsequently been charged with fraud in the immigrant investor (EB-5) program.

This can be discerned, indirectly, by (1) reading page 11 of a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission citing Ms. Yang's involvement with the September 2012 "U.S. China Energy Summit", which mentions a "$200,000 speaking fee for a former President of the United States"; and (2) by looking at a photographs of the event, among them one showing Ms. Yang with a smiling George W. Bush. Read more...

Is Alien Investor Interest in the EB-5 Program Ebbing?

By David North, July 23, 2015

The figure below shows the pattern of filings over the last 24 months for the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program run by USCIS. Most of the investors are from China.

The top line shows the number of initial filings (Form I-526) per quarter; this is for the temporary resident card that comes with a $500,000 investment in an USCIS-designated (but not guaranteed) project. The lower line indicates the number of follow-on filings (Form I-829), in which the alien investor seeks to convert the temporary (two-year) permit into a permanent green card. Read more...