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As negotiations on Capitol Hill continue to reach agreement on a bill to fund operations of the U.S. federal government, many wonder whether U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will shut down. USCIS continues to operate even if the other agencies of the U.S. federal government experience a shut-down. This situation occurs because USCIS is a fee-funded agency, meaning that the fees for its operations arise primarily from fees collected from applicants. 

Washington, D.C. – January 19, 2018: As negotiations on Capitol Hill continue to reach agreement on a bill to fund operations of the U.S. federal government, employers and immigrants are frequently anxious about whether U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will also shut-down.

The short answer to this concern is “no”, USCIS continues to operate even if the other agencies of the U.S. federal government experience a shut-down. This quirky situation occurs because USCIS is a fee-funded agency, meaning that the fees for its operations arise primarily from fees collected from applicants. Additionally, many functions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection) are also considered essential government services that are required to remain operational even if there is a shut-down. So, in the past, the USCIS has actually remained open for business during a government shut-down. The U.S. Department of Labor, however, is not so lucky: it has to shutter operations for lack of funding.

Readers from abroad may ask themselves: “How many times has the U.S. federal government shut down because of disagreement over funding?”. The answer to this question would require a much longer response than available in this report.

Negotiations continue with most observers expecting an agreement to keep the U.S. federal government operating through mid-February or mid-March of 2018.

I.A. Donoso & Associates, LLC, is a law firm based in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a leading immigration law firm with recognized expertise in visas for EB-5 investors, professionals and academics.

EB-5 PROGRAM EXTENDED WITHOUT CHANGES FOR TWO WEEKS Washington D.C., Dec. 8, 2017 - The House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution, H.J. Res. 123 on...

December 1 | Michelle Arean From revamps to new openings, here’s what’s new for 2018 & beyond in the U.S. hotel landscape. East & West Coast Openings Over on...

BY: MICHAEL YOUNG | DECEMBER 1, 2017 The pace of progress at 111 Murray Street has been quite rapid since it started to rise into the Tribeca and Lower Manhattan skylines just over a year ago. Now, the construction crane is coming down, and the reflective exterior glass façade is beginning to accentuate the sweeping curves of the building’s distinct crown, which covers the mechanical roof and parapet. Standing nearly 800 feet, just a hair taller than the Goldman Sachs headquarters across the street to the west, 111 Murray Street, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, will be completed next year. The 157 units range from one bedrooms starting at $2.5 million, to a five-bedroom spread asking nearly $19 million. Two full-floor penthouses will sit at the top of the building, and offer the largest amount of square footage per unit, thanks to the unique architectural shape and profile of the tower. Its glass facade tapers outwards towards the top, instead of incorporating setbacks or staying flat, with the upward fluting explaining the anomaly. Residents will have sweeping views of the Hudson River, Tribeca, and Midtown Manhattan in the distance, and optimal amounts of sunlight in the morning and evening, with relatively few towers in the immediate vicinity of similar heights. The building’s location ensures it is somewhat separate from the densely packed streets and skyscraper clusters of the Financial District and World Trade Center. At ground level, there will be a privately owned public space on the eastern portion of the site that features seating areas, a green plaza, and the entry to the lobby. On the north side, a private garden and seating area featuring a sculptural water fountain will be offered to residents, along with an indoor dining area and lounge space. Two small retail spaces will be available on the western side of the building, where foot traffic will probably be heaviest. They will be buffered from the West Side Highway with steps, raised landscaped planters and trees. Hollander Design Landscape Architects is the firm behind the outdoor public space of 111 Murray Street. Above the ground floor, residents will have private amenities which include a 75-foot lap pool, a fitness center and lounge, and a children’s playroom, all designed by David Rockwell. These will eventually cover an area of 20,000 square feet, spread over two floors at the bottom of the building. 111 Murray had previously announced back in 2015 that its most over-the-top resident amenity will be its very own concierge jet service, a first for a residential building in New York City. The luxury comes with a 10% to 20% discount for those who use the so-called “25-hour service” to book private jets ranging anywhere from $125,000 to $250,000 per flight. The site is being developed by Witkoff, Fisher Brothers, and New Valley Real Estate.
By Mark Maurer |  November 29 Witkoff, Fisher Brothers and Howard Lorber’s New Valley just pulled off about $650 million in financing for 111 Murray, part of which is a condominium inventory loan for the 800-foot Tribeca tower’s remaining unsold units, The Real Deal has learned. The developers recently closed a large loan from the lending arm of Blackstone Group for the project, which is expected to be complete by spring 2018. Sources said the loan is partially an inventory loan in the interim before all in-contract units close in the first quarter, as well as a takeout of the existing construction loan. The Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed project’s units are nearly 80 percent sold, according to a source familiar with the apartment sales. Sales launched at the 58-story, 157-unit tower in July 2015. That same month, the developers secured a $445 million construction loan from a group that included M&T Bank, Deutsche Bank and Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies. The new refinancing now comes solely from Blackstone, sources said. The deal has not yet appeared in property records, though there is a new agreement filing for the amount of the initial construction loan – just a portion of the total loan. Steve Witkoff declined to comment, and representatives for the project and Blackstone could not be immediately reached. Back when the offering plan was filed with the New York State Attorney General’s office, the tower had a total projected sellout of $973 million. Apartments have ranged in price from $2.5 million to $18.9 million.  The tower’s current projected sellout is $1.05 billion, according to the AG’s office. Condo inventory loans have become more popular in New York City recently, as a way to receive financing for a chunk of apartments that have not yet closed. The loans get paid as more units sell. Tessler Development and Time Equities secured condo inventory financingearlier this year for unsold units at their respective towers at 172 Madison Avenue and 50 West Street.   Will Parker and Danielle Balbi contributed reporting.
Nestled in the heart of the New York City sits the metropolitan hub's famed Times Square. Constantly in motion, the area sees an estimated 26 million people each year and offers an array of experiences designed to suit nearly every visitor. On Thursday, Times Square will add one more tourist attraction to its portfolio — the NFL Experience. The attraction is a partnership between Cirque du Soleil, which produces and operates the attraction, and the NFL, which co-created the immersive elements. The project is an exemplar of the growing experiential retail trend, a pattern brought on by the advent of e-commerce that has left fewer shoppers visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers, finding themselves at a crossroads, have turned to more hands-on ways to attract more customers. Simply put, retailers are betting the experience, rather than the physical commodities a consumer can purchase, are what will drive individuals to stores. Though the NFL Experience is what may ultimately lure people to this new attraction, onsite retail, food and beverage vendors also stand to benefit from the attraction's foot traffic. But before the experience could get off the ground, Boston-based Shawmut Design & Construction had to figure out how to produce and work with previously unfamiliar technical elements — and how to do so in the middle of New York City. Randy Shelly, Shawmut's vice president of hospitality, says the firm ultimately won the project not only because of its experience and skill sets, but because of its familiarity with the nuances of building in Times Square, one of the nation's most challenging construction environments. Logistically, the project required significant up-front planning and clear communication with the 42-story New York EDITION hotel base building. "All of the authorities having jurisdiction, including the NYC Department of Buildings and New York Fire Department, have enabled us, for the most part, to execute with limited disruption," Shelly said. Inconveniences such as redirecting pedestrians, closing lanes and sidewalks and deliveries were planned well in advance. In all, it took 12 weeks of careful planning before construction even started. The 38,000-square-foot attraction is housed in a 39-story, mixed-use high-rise. It includes a 188-seat, 4-D movie theater with motion-capable seats and weather effects that simulate NFL experiences from the athlete's standpoint. The space also hosts interactive exhibits and simulated training drills, including running back and tackle challenges and a touchdown dance photo op that can be televised on a 2,120-square-foot digital display in Times Square. The project's success required immense coordination between all teams, including vendors, subcontractors and the base building landlord. "Communicating early and often was key to keeping everyone on the same page while delivering on the most sophisticated and technologically challenging elements," Shelly says. "Creating a framework for easy collaboration made it possible for the collective teams to respond to unforeseen changes. It all comes back to communication." Along with constant emails and phone calls, Shawmut conducted weekly in-person coordination meetings with vendors from pre-construction through completion to encourage collaboration and keep the information flowing freely. The firm also adopted Procore, a cloud-based construction management software. "We knew additional support would be critical in meeting the needs of this complex project," Shelly said. Shelly explains that the project's uniqueness lies in its theatrical elements and interactive vendor coordination. Because those elements were so involved, they each presented distinct challenges.  
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, 8:27 a.m. NEW YORK — The NFL is taking its game to Times Square. Literally. NFL Experience will open to the public in the mecca of Manhattan on Friday, one day after a grand opening that Commissioner Roger Goodell and assorted football celebrities and Hall of Famers will attend. While this Experience is patterned after the exhibits the league has done for years at the Super Bowl and draft, it has a new and different feel thanks to a partnership with Cirque du Soleil. “Cirque du Soleil has been involved with our team on things and with the Super Bowl,” says Dawn Hudson, the league's chief marketing officer. “We wanted to not just do an experience like anything else, but to have creativity and imagination and to really think about the things we would do. We thought about the power of what we know about the NFL and to try to reimagine that with a company that looks at the world in a totally different way could create magic for the fan.” A $30 million project that has taken 2 12 years in development, the Experience has something for kids, teens, and adults, mixing high tech and traditional displays into an immersive attraction. Want to read about and see clips from your favorite franchise, or view memorabilia? There's a room for that, whether through tablets or visual displays. Want to virtually dress up in full uniform and equipment like a player from your team? Do drills as if you were a draft prospect at the NFL combine? Take a history lesson of football — sort of an NFL101 — or create a touchdown celebration dance? Go ahead, there's a place for all of that, too. Visitors can act the part of coach and quarterback with the help of Jon Gruden as he calls and diagrams a play (Dice Right 61 Bullseye X Individual), then allows fans to run the play on a video screen. Displays of all the Super Bowl rings and tickets and the Lombardi Trophy are on hand. A replication of an equipment room and the underneath areas of a stadium is part of the four-floor tour, which takes anywhere from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on lines, though there will be timed entries. But there's plenty to do even while waiting for something else to do. “We look at this as Disneyland meets the Hall of Fame in Times Square,” says Danny Boockvar, president of NFL Experience Times Square. The centerpiece certainly will be a 4D film that has Cirque du Soleil's touch — artistically and in reality. It's Cirque du Soleil's first experiential venture. Before watching the film in the Experience's Stadium, there's even a warning for people who are prone to motion sickness to beware, although the seats in the theater are adjustable to limit the amount of jerking around a viewer takes. Doubt they have those out on the field for the players. The movie by NFL Films pretty much covers every aspect of how a player prepares, feels and what he, well, experiences when running for touchdowns, being sacked, or winning a championship. It's as fast-paced as a Tyreek Hill sprint, as powerful as a Von Miller tackle, as memorable as a Drew Brees touch pass. It even comes with a weather surprise. “Part of the trick is make sure to appeal to kids who are 8 and adults who are 80, to the hardcore fan and the novice, and the people from overseas,” Hudson says, noting that 20 percent of foot traffic in Times Square is from Europe. Visitors can finish off the visit in a dining area featuring favored items from the 32 NFL teams. The New York item being highlighted recently was a reuben sandwich. The NFL Experience is one of several sites opening near Times Square this year that are a striking departure from the unique local attractions: Broadway theater; world-class museums; world-famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, along with authentic neighborhoods, shops and eateries. New York isn't known for its Southern food or country music, but the Grand Ole Opry is opening a venue soon promising “the best of Nashville food and entertainment in Times Square.” National Geographic Encounter opened in October with an “immersive” experience using high-tech visuals and soundscapes. “I would say the primary thought was not a movement to enhance Times Square,” Hudson says. “People want things that are high-sensory experiences they can do with friends and they can talk and share, and that don't take a huge amount of time. “We considered other places and cities. We knew we needed to have an area with a lot of visitors and fans, an area that would require heavy foot traffic. New York is the home of the NFL, it has two teams, and so many or our other teams are not so far away. This is five blocks from our headquarters. Our people can be here every day and make sure everything is authentic.”  
NOVEMBER 9, 2017 BY DEVIN GANNON   Shortly after the launch of condominium sales last month, new renderings of 125 Greenwich Street were released Thursday, revealing its imposing height over neighboring Financial District towers (h/t YIMBY). The proposed 912-foot tall luxury condo designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, the firm behind staggering 432 Park Avenue, features 273 total units, including 190 studios and one-bedrooms. Upon its completion, 125 Greenwich will have the third-highest apartments in lower Manhattan, after the Four Seasons Private Residences at 30 Park Place and nearly complete 45 Broad Street. The design of the residential building, developed by Bizzi & Partners and Vector Group, features rounded glass corners and two concrete-ribbons along the northern and southern sides of its crown. The design calls for nearly column-free layouts, high ceilings and many corner units.  Its Lower Manhattan location offers proximity to the World Trade Center and Wall Street, in addition to panoramic views. Instead of a sprawling penthouse on its top floors, there will be three floors of amenities, including private entertaining and dining areas, a 50-foot lap pool, a spa and fitness center. The interiors are being handled by the British firm, March & White, known for its sleek, simple designs. The original design of 125 Greenwich had the tower reaching supertall status at 1,400 feet tall. After lowering that plan to 898 feet, it grew slightly in its latest plan to 912 feet tall. Three-bedroom units, which span up to 3,960 square feet, are starting at $4.625 million. The tower is offering nearly 200 studio to one-bedrooms priced from $1.2 million. Notably, the studios are located above the 61st floor, giving smaller families and single professionals a chance to take in the sweeping views for less.
CAILEY RIZZO  NOVEMBER 23, 2017 [caption id="attachment_24078" align="aligncenter" width="741"] Illuminated Times Square at night, New York City, NY, United States[/caption] Travelers who want to experience the epicenter of New York City can now stay in a hotel behind the city’s largest LED billboard. Behind the nine-story, 18,000-square-foot LED billboard on West 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, there will be a massive, multi-billion dollar hotel and entertainment complex for those who want to spend their time in the Big Apple in the hubbub and electricity of smackdab midtown.   The Marriott EDITION Hotel Times Square, from hotelier Ian Schrager, will be behind more than 25 million pixels of screen when it opens in early 2018. However hotel guests won’t have their city views blocked by the screen. The 452 rooms will be located on the building’s 14th through 40th floors. Below the rooms, the hotel’s amenities will live on the 7th through 12th floors, while retail and theater space take up the floors below. While not much is has been announced about the hotel’s particulars, future guests can expect unparalleled views of Times Square action. A rooftop will likely be a main draw to the building, as will the hotel’s corner suites, with balconies directly overlooking the frenzy below. And, because this is Times Square, the retail and theater space are brand name. The ground floor will be anchored by a 40,000-square-foot “NFL Times Square Experience,” from the National Football League. The building will also feature space for Cirque du Soleil and the relocation of Hershey’s Chocolate World. The entire complex is already known as 20 Times Square and local news reports estimate that ad space on the building’s gigantic screen could run as high as $35,000 per minute.