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  • Article: Five Things We Learned on EB-5 from USCIS Field Operations Meeting with AILA By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Joseph Barnett, and Mark Catam

    Five Things We Learned on EB-5 from USCIS Field Operations Meeting with AILA

    by


    On May 12, 2017, the USCIS Field Operations Directorate met with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) that published the minutes today. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program was a hot topic.

    Below are five things we learned during this meeting:

    1. EB-5 Site Visits and Regional Center Compliance Audits. USCIS confirmed that the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate will run the EB-5 site visits, which have become a part of the Form I-829 adjudication process. USCIS indicated that it will hold about 250 site visits this year. On the other hand, the IPO’s compliance team will run the Regional Center compliance audits. USCIS is currently unwilling to provide a checklist of the type of documents or information being audited but will provide guidance to the EB-5 community as more Regional Center compliance audits are performed.
    1. I-829 Adjudications. USCIS indicated that it does not have sufficient resources to require an in-person interview for every investor prior to adjudicating the Form I-829. USCIS noted the backlog of pending Form I-829s (7,072 as of December 31, 2016) and indicated it was cross-training economists and adjudicators to expand capacity and speed up processing times (as of February 28, 2017, IPO is processing Form I-829s filed as of October 1, 2014).
    1. Finalizing Sustainment Memo. The EB-5 community has been waiting for final guidance from USCIS on the job creation requirement and sustainment of investment ever since a draft Policy Memorandum was posted in August 2015. USCIS indicated that a final version of the memo will be issued “soon.” The critical issue is must the investment be sustained for the two-year period up until the filing of the I-829, or until the adjudication or approval of the I-829, which presently adds another 2-3 years to the process. Clear guidance is urgently needed due to the ever-increasing EB-5 visa waiting line for mainland Chinese investors.
    1. Required I-924 Amendments. The meeting discussed the IPO’s update regarding the new policy on modifying a Regional Center’s geographic area. USCIS clarified that geographic changes to a Regional Center’s designation require a formal amendment (with a $17,795 fee) and approval prior to filing Form I-526 petitions associated with that expanded geographic area. USCIS also indicated, as indicated in the instructions to the Form I-924, that organizational structures or changes to its administration that affect its oversight and reporting duties require a formal amendment (with a $17,795 fee); however USCIS approval on these changes is not needed prior to filing Form I-526 petitions associated with that Regional Center.
    1. Effect of Regional Center Terminations. USCIS indicated that Regional Center terminations will NOT automatically result in denials or revocations of Form I-526 or Form I-829 petitions. Instead, USCIS will hold the petitions until the Regional Center completes the Administrative Appeals Office appeal process.

    It is encouraging to see that USCIS is actively seeking to resolve both policy and practical issues impacting EB-5.

    This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group. Copyright © 2017 Wolfsdorf Connect - All Rights Reserved.


    About The Author

    Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (www.wolfsdorf.com), and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in EB-5 investment immigration in addition to the full range of global immigration matters. Joseph Barnett is licensed as an attorney in the State of Illinois and the State of Wisconsin and practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law. Mr. Barnett represents immigrant investors seeking permanent residency in the United States through USCIS-designated Regional Centers and investment in their own businesses. Mr. Barnett also assists developers with the establishment of complex corporate and financing structures for EB-5 capital. He works with economists, securities lawyers, business plan writers, and other professionals to prepare Regional Center applications, amendments, and project “exemplar” approvals. Mark A.M. Catam is an Associate Attorney in the firm’s Los Angeles office. He specializes in the areas of EB-5 investment, including EB-5 compliance, foreign direct investment (FDI), investor/trader category, business/corporate immigration and compliance, and global mobility. His clients include multinational companies, high-net worth individuals, tech companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs/investors, regional centers, developers, executives and highly skilled professionals. He is a member of State Bar of California (licensed to practice law in California), and a designated Global Mobility Specialist® by Worldwide ERC – The Association of Workforce Mobility.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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