A Leap Forward for Israeli Investors – Calling All Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

Israel has been eligible for E-1 Treaty Trader status since 1949, allowing owners and employees of Israeli companies that are engaged in substantial trade, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, Israel, to enter the U.S. to work. However, the E-2 Treat Investor eligibility for Israel has been a long-awaited development for Israeli entrepreneurs and start-ups. President Obama signed legislation in 2012 allowing nationals of Israel to apply for E-2 trader investor status as long as U.S. citizens were granted a reciprocal eligibility to obtain investor visas for Israel. Although Israel passed a bill in 2014 to allow for U.S. investment, the regulations were not enacted until June of 2018. Now that Israel has authorized the investor visa for U.S. citizens, the U.S. will now implement E-2 processing for qualified Israeli investors and Israeli employees of Israel companies who are granted E-2 treaty status.

Starting May 1, 2019, Israeli citizens can now apply for E-2 Treaty Investor status. The E-2 will allow Israeli citizens to work in the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the individual (or an Israeli-owned business) has invested a substantial amount of capital or to provide an essential skill to the new U.S. business. This is great news for Israel and Israeli entrepreneurs who have been looking to invest in the U.S. Israel is known for its leadership in the world of IT, cybersecurity and other high-tech sectors. According to the World Economic Forums, Israel creates over 1,000 start-ups annually and is second in the world for innovation. This is a very real and valuable economic opportunity for Israeli entrepreneurs.

USCIS Received Enough Applications to Meet the H-1B Cap for FY 2020 and Has Completed the Random Selection Process

On April 10, 2019, USCIS announced they received 201,011 petitions between April 1 and April 5, 2019 and completed the computer-generated random selection process to meet the H-1B Regular cap and U.S. Advance Degree cap (Master’s cap) for FY 2020.

USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the petition is a prohibited duplicate filing. This year, it is estimated that at least 42 percent of cap filings will be selected, though USCIS typically accepts more than the annual quota to account for cases that are ultimately denied or withdrawn.

Employers whose petitions were selected in the lottery have already started receiving receipt notices, including premium processing cases. As previously announced, USCIS will not begin premium processing adjudication until May 20. It could take several weeks or more for USCIS to complete initial data entry and issue all filing receipts for petitions filed by regular processing.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for concurrent H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2020 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Changes to Form I-94

Beginning in May 2019, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) will switch to alphanumeric I-94 numbers and will cease to use numerals only. The new format will continue to include 11 characters, starting with nine digits, a letter in the tenth position, and a digit in the eleventh position. CBP has indicated that unexpired I-94 Records issued in the current numeric-only format will continue to be valid until the “Admit Until Date” printed on the paper or digital I-94 Record expires.

USCIS Issues Policy Guidance Clarifying How Federal Controlled Substances Law Applies to Naturalization Determinations

On Friday, April 19, 2019, USCIS issued a USCIS Policy Manual in the USCIS Policy Manual that clarifies that violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law. Under Federal Law marijuana is classified as a “Schedule I” controlled substance whose manufacture (which includes production, such as planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting), distribution, dispensing, or possession may lead to immigration consequences. The policy guidance also clarifies that an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws.

May 2019 Visa Bulletin Shows Slow Movement in Most Backlogged Categories and No Movement for EB-1 India and China

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for May 2019 shows slight forward movement for EB-1 preference category for all chargeability areas except China and India. The EB-1 category will advancing one month in all countries, moving up the cutoff date to March 1, 2018, except China and India, whose dates remain at February 22, 2017.

The State Department projects that, due to high demand, cutoff dates for EB-1 China and India could retrogress in the near future to February 22, 2017 when FY 2020 begins on October 1, 2019.

The EB-2 category will remain current for all countries except China, advancing to May 15, 2016, and India, advancing to April 16, 2009. In the EB-3 preference category, most countries will remain current except for China, which will move to August 22, 2015; India will move to July 1, 2009; and the Philippines will move to June 1, 2018. As in prior Visa Bulletins, the final action date for India in the EB-3 preference category continues to be ahead of EB-2 India.

USCIS announced that the Final Action Dates chart must be used for filing Form I-485 for May 2019.

Canadian L-1 Applicants Seeking to Extend/Renew Their L-1 Status are Being Refused at Port of Entry

There have been recent reports that, contrary to previous practice, various ports of entry (POEs) throughout Canada are refusing to process any petition that can be considered an L-1 renewal or extension from Canadians pursuant to NAFTA. This is a major departure from a long established practice where L-1 extensions and renewals could be quickly processed at the border. Instead, L-1 employers will have to file L-1 extension and renewal applications with USCIS, thus an L-1 employer must plan carefully and anticipate a lengthier and time consuming process.

Currently, an official policy announcement on this reversal has yet to be published. The affected POEs include Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Pearson, Edmonton, Seattle, Pembina, Warroad, Pt. Roberts and Sumas.