When Immigration Matters

Permanent Resident vs. U.S. Citizen: What's the Difference?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

One of the most important questions that we receive here at Pollak PLLC is, “What is the difference between a permanent resident and a U.S. citizen?” First of all, while these terms are often used interchangeably on the web, and even by some people in the media, they are categorically different. Here is an overview of each designation.

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Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 @ 4:07 PM

Charles Oppenheim, U.S. Department of State, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control announced that the China Employment Fifth (EB-5) preference category has become "Unavailable" for the remainder of the FY-2014 because the maximum number of visas allocated ot chinese nationals has been reached.  

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EB-5 Investment Visas and Indirect Construction Jobs--What you need to know

Posted by Michael Pollak on Tue, Nov 05, 2013 @ 8:36 PM

Lawyers representing EB-5 investors should be aware of the latest USCIS
adjudications trend challenging claims of construction jobs by means of
requiring third-party validation of construction data and regional industry
standards. Immigration lawyers should now ask the Investor's selected Regional
Center to provide such supporting evidence in advance of filing the I-526
petition or in anticipation of the RFE.

Ever since Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec. 206 (Assoc. Comm'r 1998),
USCIS has required the submission of a "comprehensive business plan" in the Form
I-526 filing to clarify the investor's claimed job creation projections. But
recently, the USCIS has expanded its standard requiring a more detailed and
verified analysis of any construction phase jobs.

When a Regional Center project claims a construction period exceeding 24
months, EB5 investors can claim direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from
the construction phase activities and qualified construction expenditures. When
the business plan making such job claims is submitted to the USCIS as part of
the I-526 petition, the agency will apply the following test:

"Because construction will surpass two years, the petitioner must present a business plan with a more detailed and itemized construction timeline showing all relevant phases of the construction effort. The business plan must also provide transparent, objective, and verifiable data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within a reasonable range when compared to industry standards."

In failing to meet this standard with an initial I-526 filing package, the
USCIS will issue an RFE for such records. In response, the Regional Center will
need to supply associated investors with an evidence package that contains
third-party opinions verifying or explaining business plan claims relating to
construction activity and assumptions. These may include following:

  • General Contractor's Detailed Construction Timeline. This
    report breaks down all phases of the build-out, by date and subcontractor
    specialty/trade. The timeline should provide expected start and completion dates
    for each distinct activity.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Timeline. This
    expert opinion assesses the project's construction timeline claim and measures
    the timeline against regional industry norms.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Costs. This expert
    opinion assesses the itemized budget costs and compares them with verifiable
    data, analysis, and industry standards. Reliable construction costs are
    important to the USCIS because these are direct inputs to the economic modeling
    that calculates job creation.

These are just a few examples of how a comprehensive business plan claiming
construction jobs may effectively utilize third-party verification of critical
construction data, budgets, timelines and assumptions to ensure Matter of Ho
compliance. Given the emerging USCIS trend in this area, EB5 lawyers should be
prepared to supply exhibits which contain transparent, objective, and verifiable
data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within
a reasonable range when compared to industry standards. And note that such
third-party construction experts are not in lieu of the Regional Center's
economist calculating the job creation, but are rather in addition to the

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Should Foreign STEM Graduates Get Green Cards?

Posted by Michael Pollak on Tue, May 29, 2012 @ 6:39 PM

In the March 25th edition of US News, the Debate Club (a meeting of the sharpest minds on the day's most important topics that lets readers decide the most persuasive), tackles the controversial and widely publicized proposal for foreign STEM graduates to get green cards with their diplomas.

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US Immigration & Family Podcast

Posted by Michael Pollak on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 @ 1:10 PM
Attorney Karen-Lee Pollak answers the following questions about immigration:
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US Immigration Basics for South Africans | Intro (Part 1)

Posted by Karen Pollak on Wed, Sep 08, 2010 @ 1:37 PM

Whether you plan to come to the United States for a short visit or a permanent stay, your first step is to apply for a visa.

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Green Card Redesigned By USCIS

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, May 12, 2010 @ 10:02 AM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has redesigned the Permanent Resident Card - commonly known as the "Green Card" - to incorporate several major new security features.  The Green Card redesign is the latest advance in USCIS's ongoing efforts to deter immigration fraud.  State-of-the-art technology incorporated into the new card prevents counterfeiting, obstructs tampering, and facilitates quick and accurate authentication.  Beginning today, USCIS will issue all Green Cards in the new, more secure format.

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USCIS Financial Challenges Driving Possible Fee Increases

Posted by Michael Pollak on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 @ 8:41 AM
A $118 million shortfall resulting from a drop in citizenship applications and skilled worker visas is causing concern among immigrant advocate groups.  The agency, which is now required by law to be self-supporting is considering the fee increases and budget cuts next year.  The high cost of citizenship will put a strain on low and moderate income permanent residents seeking naturalization.  In addition, the shortfalls could adversely impact the agencies ability to support the possibility of legislation that could cause millions of undocumented applicants applying for legalization.  Read more in an LA Times article by Teresa Wanabe and Anne Gorman.
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Proxy Wedding Creates Immigration Challenge for Marine's Widow, Baby

Posted by Michael Pollak on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 1:55 PM
The Immigration & Nationality Act says that, for the purposes of immigration law, the definition of spouse does not include a "wife or husband by reason of any marriage ceremony where the contracting parties thereto are not physically present in the presence of each other, unless the marriage shall have been consummated."  Now Hotaru Ferschke, the widow of Sgt. Michael Ferschke, a war hero killed in Iraq in 2008, and their infant son, Mikey, struggle to remain in the United States as a result of a 1950s legal standard meant to curb marriage fraud.  Ironically,  U.S. immigration authorities do not recognize Hotaru's marriage, even though the military does.  Read more in Kristin M. Hall's article appearing today in the Associated Press.
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Immigrant Applications to Become US Citizens Plunge as Fees Increase

Posted by Michael Pollak on Sat, Sep 12, 2009 @ 1:33 PM
The number of immigrants applying to become U.S. citizens plunged 62 percent last year as the cost of naturalization rose.  In late 2007, the application cost increased from $330 to $595, plus an $80 fee for computerized fingerprinting. Partly in anticipation of the price increase, 1.38 million people filed applications in 2007, creating a backlog that nearly tripled the average processing time.  Citing a decline in real median income among non-citizens in recent years, a recent analysis said that "eligible applicants face mounting economic pressures that threaten to place naturalization out of reach." Shouldn't the government do more to ease the way for would-be citizens through fee defrayment, information workshops and English classes. These permanent residents are paying the same taxes as U.S. citizens and should have the privilege of becoming U.S. Citizens without having to pay these exhorbitant fees.   
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