The Golden Visa: Alternative Avenues to a Green Card for Entrepreneurs

If you are an entrepreneur looking to establish permanent residency in the United States, odds are you have heard of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This type of program is not unique to the United States as 23 countries around the world (VisaPlace) have some type of ‘citizen-by-investment’ policy, commonly referred to as the “Golden Visa.”
With EB-5 processing times averaging at a whopping 47 to 71 months (four to six years), the situation begs some entrepreneurs to wonder, “Is there a faster way?” We would like to propose using the “Golden Visa” option in a third country to leverage an E-2 treaty investor visa.

The E-2 Visa
According to USCIS, an E-2 treaty investor must be a citizen of United States treaty country and “invest a substantial amount of money and direct the operations of an enterprise they have invested in, or are actively investing in.” If applying from within the United States, an E-2 treaty investor petition is processed in 2 to 4 months or can be filed with premium processing, meaning a decision would be issued within 15 days of filing. If applying outside the US, you can apply with the consulate.
An E-2 visa permits “dual intent,” meaning that you must maintain the intention to depart the United States when the E-2 visa expires yet can simultaneously intend to apply for permanent residence. Once in the United States, an E-2 visa holder can apply for an adjustment of status, granted they are willing to waive some of the rights that are associated with an E-2 visa.

An Alternative to EB-5
So, if you are an entrepreneur looking to come to the United States, but perhaps don’t want to wait for an EB-5 application to process, consider investing in one of the 12 countries that have a “Golden Visa” program and are also treaty countries with the United States, including:

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom

Questions? Contact

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BREAKING NEWS: Congress Passed $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill, EB-5 Regional Center Program Reauthorized

With the passage of a $1.5 trillion spending bill in the House on Wednesday (March 9) and the Senate last night (March 10), the EB-5 Regional Center Program was reauthorized.

The EB-5 Regional Centers have been reauthorized through September 30, 2027. All pending investor visa applications that have been stuck in a holding period since the lapse of regional center authorization will now continue to be adjudicated by USCIS. The bill also included a provision that if Congress fails to reauthorize the program again before expiration in 2027, investors will be “grandfathered” in and USCIS will continue to adjudicate investor visa petitions that were submitted before expiration.

Investment amounts have increased to $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) and $1,050,000 for non-TEA. The amounts will increase every 5 years to reflect inflation.

Questions? Email us at




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Legalized Marijuana and Immigration: What do non-citizens need to avoid?

The cannabis industry has exploded over the last ten years since Colorado and Washington state first legalized the adult use of marijuana (“adult use” used to be referred to as “recreational use,” but the verbiage has since changed). Now, 18 states permit adult use, and 37 states permit medicinal use. But what does that mean for non-citizens of the United States?

It is important to note that marijuana continues to be illegal on the federal level, and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operate under federal law. Having cannabis on your person at Customs could result in a Customs fine, or in some cases, a statement can be taken from you during the inspection process which could be used to establish inadmissibility. There have even been reports of non-citizens being denied entry at the border for having any sort of cannabis-related product, including CBD sleeping pills.

There are movements for marijuana reform on a federal level, with members of Congress urging the federal government to align themselves with changing state and local policies. Until reform is enacted, however, it is important to be extremely careful with marijuana use, purchase, and possession as a non-citizen.

While true for everyone (US citizens, permanent residents, and non-residents alike), this is a special reminder for non-residents and permanent residents to never drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or any controlled substance. A DUI can greatly affect immigration proceedings for non-citizens.

If you have any questions, please contact us at



This post is an informal summary of information that was gathered from an article by W Scott Railton on Think Immigration, a blog hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.



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Congress Pushes on DHS to Improve the USCIS Contact Center

On February 28, 2022, 47 members of Congress wrote a letter to Secretary Mayorkas (Department of Homeland Security) and Director Jaddou (Citizenship and Immigration Services) urging them to make improvements to the USCIS Contact Center. The letter specifically mentions the barriers posed by the shift from InfoPass to InfoMod in conjunction with scheduling in-person appointments at field offices. They state that navigating the new three-tiered system has caused extensive wait times, unreasonable callback windows, and significant customer dissatisfaction.

Another grievance the letter refers to is the fact that members of an attorney’s legal staff are not allowed to receive updates through the new contact center; if not the beneficiary, only the attorney of record can raise an inquiry or speak to USCIS officers. The letter goes on to mention that as USCIS’ pending caseload has increased 85% from 2015 to 2020, improvements to the contact center will reduce the burden on the agency itself and improve overall customer satisfaction.

In summary, the letter asks for:

  1. Reinstating InfoPass or another online appointment self-scheduling system
  2. Providing accurate and accommodating callback windows
  3. Allowing law firm staff other than the attorney on record to make requests
  4. Making public the criteria for granting appointments through InfoMod
  5. Offering walk-in availability for urgent requests at local USCIS offices

Questions? Email

Information from AILA Doc. No. 22030300.


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H-1B Strategies for Employers

At Challa Law, it is our mission to arm and equip our clients with knowledge. We know that when an employer is confident about immigration processes, their employees are confident about immigration processes. Decreased worry and stress about the legal implications of bringing in international resources leads to greater productivity and success. That’s what we want to provide for all the businesses that trust the Challa Law name.

With H-1B season fully upon us, we want to briefly review the H-1B lottery process, as well as cover some tips and suggestions for providing strong evidence for your employee’s petition. You can also find all of this information and more in our webinar from March 2, 2022.

H-1B Lottery

Registration for the lottery began on March 1 at noon EST and will run till March 18 at noon EST. Registration is conducted on Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about registering an employee for the H-1B lottery:

  • The petitioner (employer) must pay $10 for each beneficiary (employee) they register
  • The petitioner needs to provide basic demographic information about the beneficiary, as well as basic information about their company to register
  • A petitioner can only register the beneficiary for one position
  • A beneficiary can be registered by multiple companies

There are 85,000 H-1B visas allotted per fiscal year. The first 25,000 are selected from a pool of master’s degree holders only. Anyone who is not selected in that initial drawing is then put into the pool of all H-1B lottery registrants and names are drawn again for the remaining visa slots.

Last year, 308,613 people registered for the H-1B lottery (a 12% increase than the previous year) and USCIS initially selected 87,500 names. This was significantly lower than the amount the had chosen the year prior. This caused USCIS to conduct a second-round lottery in July 2021 and a third-round lottery in November 2021.

USCIS states that they will notify petitioners (and attorneys) electronically whether the beneficiary was selected or not by March 31. The notice will include a service center filing location and a designated filing window. Employees may begin work on the first day of the fiscal year, October 1, 2022.

Cap Gap for F-1 students: if the H-1B petition is filed before the F-1 OPT work authorization expires, then the employee is allowed to keep working for the employer with the H-1B receipt notice should their OPT expire before October 1.

Tips on Strong Evidence for a Successful Petition

Proving Education Levels Meets H-1B Requirements

  • We suggest requesting a degree evaluations if degrees are from a foreign instituation to determine equivalency to US degrees

Proving the Position is a Specialty Occupation

  • We suggest providing a very detailed job description with duties outlined clearly, but not so complex that someone outside your field could not understand it


“Imagine you are explaining this job to a ten-year-old”

– Lakshmi Challa


We hope you find this information helpful. Please email us at with any additional questions.

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Green Card Backlog: Could choosing consular processing be your solution?

The journey to obtaining your green card can be a long process. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused backlogs for all USCIS petitions but significantly affected those who wish to adjust to permanent residency within the United States. Some adjustments are taking up to two years to process in certain service centers.

In recent months, as the pandemic is seemingly winding down and other countries are beginning to soften their COVID-19 regulations, we have seen a decrease in interview wait times at some foreign consulates. Now the question is: is consular processing going to be the quickest pathway to obtaining your green card?

By analyzing the projected wait times on the USCIS website, it is easy to compare them to the processing times listed on the Department of State’s website, specific to each consulate. Below we have provided two charts that can be used to compare processing times for our clients from the United Kingdom who are filing under the “US citizen filing for spouse, parent, or child category”:


Family Based Adjustment of Status within the United States



Form I-130

Application Alien Relative

13 – 18.5 months

Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status to a Permanent Resident of the United States 12 – 28.5 months
Form I-131 Application for Travel abroad while I-485 is pending with USCIS 11 – 15 months
Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization while I-485 is pending

11.5 – 15 months


Consular Processing Green Card Process

Form I-130 Application Alien Relative 13 – 18.5 months
Transfer from USCIS to the NVC If a visa is available to you USCIS will send your petition to the National Visa Center 4 – 8 weeks
NVC Case Creation and payment of fees Once the NVC receives your petition they will open up a case for you. This will prompt you to pay the necessary NVC fees. 2 – 6 weeks
Submit DS-260 application and supporting civil documents Once you have submitted all the necessary documents the NVC will again review the application and documents 3 – 4 months

If you have questions about whether choosing consular processing could be a better option for you than filing an I-485 adjustment, reach out to us at

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Is Congress going to reauthorize EB-5 Regional Centers?

The authorization for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program ended at midnight on June 30, 2021. This has left hundreds of EB-5 petitions that were submitted under the Regional Center Program pending, as USCIS decided not to act on these petitions until new legislation for Regional Centers was enacted. There was buzz towards the end of the 2021 about Regional Centers being reauthorized, but nothing came about.

Once again Challa Law has heard that there is a draft EB-5 Regional Center reauthorization bill floating around as part of the omnibus package for February 18, 2022. The buzz is that the minimum investment for targeted employment areas (TEA) will be upped from $500,000 to $700,000; Non-TEA minimum investment will be $850,000. If the new legislation is enacted, the program would be reauthorized through the year 2027; however, the changes will likely go into effect immediately.

For more information on the EB-5 Investment Program, email us at or check out our YouTube channel.

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USCIS Announces H-1B Cap Registration Period

USCIS Announces H-1B Cap Registration Period

USCIS announced that the H-1B cap registration period will open on March 1, 2022 and will close on March 18, 2022. USCIS will make the selections by March 31, 2022. Selected registrations may apply for the H-1B, which allows the beneficiary to begin working on October 1, 2022, the start of the new fiscal year.

Challa Law Group will continue to offer a tiered approach to registration. Read more about which option is right for your company: Planning for the H-1B Cap Registration System.

From USCIS (January 29, 2022): 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 1 and run through noon Eastern on March 18, 2022. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to complete and submit their registrations using our online H-1B registration system.

USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted for the FY 2023 H-1B cap. This number is used solely to track registrations; you cannot use this number to track your case status in Case Status Online.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account. Registrants will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon Eastern on Feb. 21.

Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 1 to enter beneficiary information and submit the registration with the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration.

If we receive enough registrations by March 18, we will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS online accounts. We intend to notify account holders by March 31.

An H-1B cap-subject petition, including a petition for a beneficiary who is eligible for the advanced degree exemption, may only be filed by a petitioner whose registration for the beneficiary named in the H-1B petition was selected in the H-1B registration process.


Connecting with Challa Law Group

Send your resume to to determine whether you may be a good candidate for a waiver of the labor market test!

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.

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DHS Expands STEM OPT Fields to Attract Global Talent

In order to maintain global competitiveness, the Department of Homeland Security has announced several policy guidance shifts to encourage those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields to contribute to the U.S. economy. DHS announced 22 additional fields of study that now qualify for the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program going forward, which allows students to work in a field that is directly related to his or her degree. Related to that announcement, DHS also issued new guidance for how USCIS evaluates O-1A petitions for individuals of “extraordinary ability” in STEM fields, as well as how certain individuals may qualify for a National Interest Waiver (NIW) for employment-based permanent residence. This would allow certain noncitizens with advanced degrees or exceptional ability to petition for an employment-based category without obtaining certification from the Department of Labor. USCIS claims this will make it easier for individuals such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs to obtain lawful permanent residence status.

From USCIS, 1/21/2022

DHS Expands Opportunities in U.S. for STEM Professionals: Department adds Twenty-Two New Fields of Study and Takes Additional Steps to Attract Critical STEM Talent

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced 22 new fields of study have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to enhance the contributions of nonimmigrant students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and support the growth of the U.S. economy and innovation.

“STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges we face today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the U.S. economy.”

The STEM OPT program permits F-1 students earning bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in certain STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to work in their field of study.  Adding 22 fields of study will ensure the U.S. economy benefits from students earning degrees in the United States in competitive STEM fields.  Information on the new fields of study will be communicated to schools and students through a Federal Register notice.

DHS is also updating and issuing new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy manual guidance.  USCIS is updating guidance to clarify how certain STEM graduates and entrepreneurs can use the national interest waiver for employment-based immigrant visa classification as an advanced degree professional noncitizen or noncitizen of exceptional ability.

Certain noncitizens with an advanced degree or exceptional ability can self-petition for employment-based immigrant visa classification, without testing the labor market and obtaining certification from the Department of Labor, if USCIS determines the waiver of the labor market test to be in the national interest.  The updated guidance clarifies how to use the program, making it easier for noncitizens with needed skills, such as STEM graduates and entrepreneurs, to embark on a pathway to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

USCIS is also issuing a policy manual update related to O-1A nonimmigrant status for noncitizens of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, arts, education, business, or athletics.  This update explains how USCIS determines eligibility for O-1A petitioners and, for the first time, provides examples of evidence that might satisfy the criteria, including for individuals working in STEM fields.

The 22 new fields of study are bioenergy, general forestry, forest resources production and management, human-centered technology design, cloud computing, anthrozoology, climate science, earth systems science, economics and computer science, environmental geosciences, geobiology, geography and environmental studies, mathematical economics, mathematics and atmospheric and oceanic science, general data science, general data analytics, business analytics, data visualization, financial analytics, other data analytics, industrial and organizational psychology, and social sciences, research methodology, and quantitative methods.

Connecting with Challa Law Group

Send your resume to to determine whether you may be a good candidate for a waiver of the labor market test!

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.

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USCIS Announces Green Card Goals and Interfiling Guidelines

USCIS Announces Green Card Goals and Interfiling Guidelines

USCIS updated the Green Card for Employment-Based Immigrants page with an alert about green card processing, noting the “exceptionally high number” of visas available and the Department’s goal for using all visa numbers prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2022. On the same page, USCIS also noted updated guidelines for requesting a transfer of underlying basis, also commonly known as “interfiling” for Form I-485. USCIS notes the requirements for requesting a transfer of basis and establishes an address to where the requests should be directed.


ALERT: There are an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available this fiscal year (October 2021 through September 2022).

There are an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available this fiscal year (October 2021 through September 2022). In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, we are committed to attempting to use all these visa numbers. There are many more visas available in the first (priority workers) and second (workers with advanced degrees or of exceptional ability) employment-based categories than pending adjustment of status applications pending with USCIS.

If you are eligible, please consider applying in the first or second employment-based preference categories. If you have a pending adjustment of status application based in the third employment-based preference category but also have a pending or approved petition and an available visa in the second employment-based preference category, we strongly encourage you to request that USCIS “transfer the underlying basis” of your pending application to the second employment-based preference category.

For more information, please see the section called “Transfer of Underlying Basis” below.

Transfer of Underlying Basis

You may be eligible to request to transfer the underlying basis of your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to a different employment-based immigrant category based on another Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. USCIS may, in its discretion, grant a transfer request, if:

  • You have continuously maintained eligibility for adjustment of status;
  • Your adjustment of status application based on the original Form I-140 is still pending;
  • You are eligible for the new immigrant category; and
  • You have a visa immediately available in the new immigrant category.

You must request in writing that USCIS transfer your pending Form I-485 from one basis to another category. For Fiscal Year 2022, USCIS has created a new point of contact that should be used to request a transfer of the underlying basis of employment-based Form I-485s. Through September 30, 2022, you may submit your written request, with a completed I-485 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability Under INA Section 204(j)(if required), to the following address:

U. S. Department of Homeland Security
USCIS Western Forms Center
10 Application Way
Montclair, CA 91763-1350

USCIS strongly encourages applicants to send their transfer requests to the above address.  If you have already submitted a transfer of underlying basis request to a USCIS office, you should not submit a new request to this address. All requests to transfer the underlying basis already received or that will be received this fiscal year at a USCIS office will be processed as usual by the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your pending Form I-485.

The purpose of the Supplement J is to confirm the validity of the job offered to you in the petition you want to use as the basis for your transfer request.

  • If you are requesting to transfer your underlying basis to a previously filed and approved Form I-140, you must submit I-485 Supplement J with your transfer request.
  • If you are requesting to transfer your underlying basis to a Form I-140 that remains pending, you do not need to submit I-485 Supplement J.

USCIS does not provide a written response to transfer requests.  However, USCIS will issue receipt notices for the Supplement J.

You do not have to submit a new adjustment of status application or filing fee with a request to transfer the underlying basis of your Form I-485 from one petition to another. For more information on transferring the underlying basis of your Form I-485, see theUSCIS Policy Manual.

NOTE: If you are requesting a transfer of underlying basis that is not a transfer from one employment-based petition to another employment-based petition, you should continue to submit your transfer request, in writing, to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your pending application.

Connecting with Challa Law Group

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.

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