Northern New York Newspapers
NNY Business
NNY Living
Fri., Oct. 9
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
In print daily. Online always.

Ma settles visa dispute, can re-enter U.S. to advance school plans


Businessman James Ma has resolved his visa dispute with the U.S. government.

The resolution means he is free to re-enter the country from his native China and resume his plans open an English-as-second-language school at the former Academy at Ivy Ridge on Route 37, town of Oswegatchie.

Last month, Mr. Ma was told by U.S. officials to change his visa status from B1/B2, which is for business and tourism/non-business, to EB-5, which provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States.

“I went to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing again on Jan. 28,” Mr. Ma said Thursday in an email transmission from China. “I brought a lot of documents which said that I was not ready to apply for my green card but need to travel to the U.S. from time to time. The officer listened to my explanation and granted me a visa.”

Mr. Ma’s visa status, however, isn’t permanent.

“It needs to be renewed every year,” he said.

Mr. Ma said he expects to be back in the U.S. by Feb. 20, following celebration of the Chinese New Year, to carry on with plans to open the school by fall.

Resolving the visa dispute, he said, removed one barrier from his timetable.

“Yes, this is one of the hurdles we faced,” Mr. Ma said. “We foresee there are others to be overcome.”

Mr. Ma is still confident that his new school will have a partnership with Qingdao University in Shangdong Province and, possibly, another college in Shanghai, both of which are considering opening U.S. campuses there.

Qingdao already has academic exchange programs with several U.S. colleges and universities, making it easier to obtain visas for prospective students.

Mr. Ma’s inability to obtain visas for students was one factor in his not being able to open the school last fall as planned. In order to get student visas, he had to have already established the school.

Mr. Ma wasn’t alone in convincing officials from the U.S. Embassy to change their minds about his visa status. Ogdensburg real estate broker Allison B. Chadwick, who handled the $1.5 million sale of the 238-acre campus of the former reform school to him in summer 2011, was among those who sent supportive letters to them on his behalf.

“Allison and quite a few other friends offered assistance, which I appreciate very much,” he said.

Mr. Ma’s other investments in the town include 102 acres of land off Route 37 by Lee Road for development of a 20-home subdivision and the former United Helpers Cedars Nursing Home, located nearby on Route 37, which he plans to possibly convert it to a hotel or office space. In Ogdensburg, he owns the former Sholette’s Steak and Ale restaurant at 1000 Linden St. There, he plans to open a Chinese restaurant and specialty shops.

Renovations for the new school will cost about $2 million.

Commenting rules:
  1. Stick to the topic of the article/letter/editorial.
  2. When responding to issues raised by other commenters, do not engage in personal attacks or name-calling.
  3. Comments that include profanity/obscenities or are libelous in nature will be removed without warning.
Violators' commenting privileges may be revoked indefinitely. By commenting you agree to our full Terms of Use.
Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
Connect with Us
WDT News FeedsWDT on FacebookWDT on TwitterWDT on InstagramWDT for iOS: iPad, iPhone, and iPod touchWDT for Android
Showcase of Homes
Showcase of Homes