Mar
02

Recordings of USCIS Stakeholder Engagements Now Available to IIUSA Members

This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held two stakeholder engagement teleconferences and are now available to IIUSA members.

On Wednesday February 25th, USCIS Director León Rodríguez highlighted agency initiatives and listened/responded to issues of concern to the stakeholder community. The EB-5 Program was not substantially discussed during this engagement. To listen to the recording, click here.

On Thursday February 26, USCIS held the first EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement of a new information series titled “EB-5 Interactive” with a look at Requests for Evidence on Lawful Source of Funds for Investment. A comprehensive summary and analysis will be available to members next week. If you’d like to listen to the recording, click here.
Feb
23

Dialogue with USCIS Director León Rodríguez Set for Wednesday February 25th

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 3 to 4 p.m. (Eastern), with USCIS Director León Rodríguez. During the session, Director Rodríguez will highlight agency initiatives and listen and respond to issues of concern to the stakeholder community (view PDF invitation).

To register for this session:
• Visit the registration page to confirm your participation
• Enter your email address and select “Submit”
• Select “Subscriber Preferences”
• Select the “Event Registration” tab
• Provide your full name and organization
• Complete the questions and select “Submit”

Once your registration is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details. If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email us at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov .

Feb
17

USCIS Update: New EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement Series Announced, Q1 2015 Adjudication Data Released and Additions to Regional Center Page on USCIS.gov

USCIS Announces EB-5 Interactive Series to Begin on Feb. 26th
This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will hold the first EB-5 Stakeholder engagement of a new information series titled “EB-5 Interactive” on February 26th from 1 to 2:15 p.m. (EST) with a look at Requests for Evidence on Lawful Source of Funds for Investment. View PDF of invitation here.

To register for this session, please follow the steps below:

  • Visit the registration page to confirm your participation
  • Enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Event Registration” tab
  • Provide your full name and organization
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit”
Once USCIS has processed your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to participate in this session. If you have any questions about participating, or if you do not receive a confirmation email within two business days, please email  Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

Why This Is Important

Any assets acquired directly or indirectly by unlawful means, such as criminal activity, will not be considered capital pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act section 203(b)(5) and Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR) section 204.6(e). Additionally, per 8 CFR section 204.6(j) and Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec. 206 (Assoc. Comm’r 1998), a petition must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the petitioner’s capital was his or her own and was obtained through lawful means.

Who Should Participate

This session is open to anyone, but may be most useful to those who have submitted, or will be submitting, Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.

USCIS Releases FY-2015 Q1 Data for I-526 and I-829 Petitions Received, Approved, Denied and Pending 
This week, USCIS released the FY-2015 first quarter (Oct. 1 – December 31) adjudication data of I-526 and I-829 petitions as well as updated processing times. This data, in comparison to FY-2014 data, is rather compelling.

As of December 31st, processing times for I-526 petitions climbed to 14 months (13.8 months as of 11/30/14), there is a 11.4 month lag of I-829 processing (10.5 months as of 11/30/14) and I-924 applications are taking 11.1 months to adjudicate on average (compared to 10.3 months at the end of November).
Click above to view I-526 data report (2015- Q1) on Basecamp

For I-526 Petitions, there were a total of 2,941 receipts, 1,652 approvals, 133 denials and 13,526 petitions pending. Compared to first quarter of 2014, this represents a 37% increase in receipts, 14% increase in approvals, 84% decrease in denials and 46% increase in pending petitions. Of particular note is the total petitions pending represents over $6.7 billion that is waiting to be deployed into the U.S. economy.
Click above to view I-526 data report (2015- Q1) on Basecamp

For I-829 Petitions, first quarter totals for 2015 resulted in 810 receipts, 69 approvals, 0 denials and 3,080 petitions pending. Compared to first quarter of 2014, this represents a 119% increase in receipts, 57% decrease in approvals and 48% increase in pending petitions.

829 petition

Click above to view I-829 data report (2015- Q1) on Basecamp

USCIS Updates Regional Center Webpage with New Language Pointing Visitors to Joint SEC/USCIS Investor Alert and Investor.gov

USCIS recently updated the Immigrant Investor Regional Center webpage to include language and links for potential investors. It states:

This page does not represent a legal notice or investment advice of any kind. Potential investors should always do their own research and consult with a financial professional before making any investment decision. USCIS has issued a joint advisory with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Investor Alert: Investment Scams Exploit Immigrant Investor Program. The SEC offers free investor education materials. For more information, visit Investor.gov.

Last month, USCIS added a new webpage listing all terminated Regional Centers, their termination date and state(s) served.

Feb
06

Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Regional Center to Co-Host EB-5 Forum in San Juan on February 13

On February 13, The New York Fed along with IIUSA-member Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Regional Center will be co-hosting an event in San Juan, Puerto Rico titled, “Forum on the EB-5 Economic Development Program.” The half-day event will convene stakeholders to discuss how EB-5 is being used to benefit communities in Puerto Rico and beyond. The moderator of the forum is Carolyn S. Lee, Compliance Committee member and Attorney of Counsel at Miller Mayer LLP. Speakers include IIUSA Director Bill Gresser (President, EB-5 New York State) and Association Building Committee member Michael Bailkin (Of Counsel, Akerman LLP). The event is broken into three parts: overview, deal structuring, and EB-5 availability. To read the full agenda, click here.

The event is free to attend. Register today.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Relationship with Puerto Rico 

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States and is responsible for the Second District of the Federal Reserve System, which encompasses New York state, the 12 northern counties of New Jersey, Fairfield County in Connecticut, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The New York Fed is committed to the people of Puerto Rico and to the future growth and prosperity of the Commonwealth which is reflected in their ongoing work with many partners on the Island and in the research conducted by NY Fed economists, who monitor local economic conditions and analyze issues that affect the Island’s economy.

In July 2014, the New York Fed published a report titled, “An Update on the Competitiveness of Puerto Rico’s Economy” which highlight the key challenges and opportunities in raising economic growth in Puerto Rico. This was an update to a comprehensive 2012 study on the economic performance of Puerto Rico.

Feb
05

IIUSA Statement on New Bipartisan Legislation for Permanent Authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program

As the national not-for-profit trade association representing more than 250 EB-5 Regional Centers, we sincerely appreciate the bipartisan support for the EB-5 Program demonstrated by Congressmen Polis’ and Amodei’s introduction of The American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015.

We wholeheartedly agree that the EB-5 Regional Center program should be made permanent, and we look forward to working with them and the entire Congress and the Administration on reauthorization. According to a comprehensive, peer-reviewed economic impact study, the EB-5 program contributed $3.39 billion to U.S. GDP and supported over 42,000 U.S. jobs during fiscal year 2012. 2013 and 2014 data is under analysis and expected to increase significantly. This demonstrates exponential growth for the program – more than doubling the annual impact reported the previous year. Permanent authorization will help ensure that these kinds of economic benefits continue.

In addition to making EB-5 Regional Center program permanent, the proposed legislation includes a number of provisions to strengthen the integrity of the Program. The bill also includes measures that will increase capacity for economic impact, which will only enhance the Program’s ability to create American jobs. IIUSA has a strong track record supporting legislative proposals to improve oversight and administration of the Program. We are currently reviewing the bill in its entirety in order to provide additional comments to the cosponsors and the relevant committees that may consider the bill.

Feb
04

IIUSA Statement Regarding ABC News Story about the EB-5 Program

As the not-for-profit trade association representing more than 250 EB-5 Regional Centers, IIUSA strongly stands behind the EB-5 Program as an important mechanism to promote investment that spurs economic development, creates jobs, and allows immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States and contribute to the American economy. Over the last 9 years, the Program has contributed $6.5 billion of capital investment to the American economy and supported over 131,000 jobs through investment in successful businesses and economic development projects across the country.

When it comes to protecting the integrity of the Program, our position continues to be clear: efficient and effective enforcement of U.S. immigration and securities laws are essential to maintain and expand the Program’s economic benefits and protect the interests of the United States.

It is important to note that in the last two years USCIS has made a number of significant improvements that were not reflected in the ABC News story which focused primarily on allegations that pre-date these changes.  In 2013, USCIS launched a new Immigrant Investor Program Office staffed by fraud and national security specialists as well as trained economists and experts in business and immigration law.  The agency has also clarified its guidance for adjudicators with a comprehensive policy memorandum and has strengthened interagency relationships critical to program oversight and implementation, resulting in what we believe to be a new level of cooperation with enforcement and intelligence agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS).

IIUSA has a strong track record working cooperatively with USCIS and supports these important developments and proactive steps to enhance and strengthen the EB-5 Program.

We have also worked with leading members of Congress to develop legislation that strengthens government enforcement capabilities, including integrity provisions in legislation passed by the United States Senate in 2013 (S.744) that would strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to terminate Regional Centers and screen Regional Center principals.

The EB-5 Program, like every other immigration program or visa category, relies on the federal agencies that review eligibility petitions and visa applications to conduct thorough background checks and national security screenings of all applicants. Any individual who does not meet eligibility criteria for the Program or the standards to be admitted to the country should not be given a visa, under EB-5 or any other visa category.

As an association, IIUSA has a strong code of conduct and ethics for our members and we work to educate them about the complex laws and regulations governing the Program, the importance of compliance, and following best practices for the industry. While we are not privy to ongoing government or law enforcement investigations, no one involved in the EB-5 Program – or any other line of business – should violate the law or endanger national security. If wrongdoing is found to have occurred, then the government, through appropriate law enforcement agencies and channels, should take swift action.

Program integrity is critical to our continued success. We applaud and appreciate the work of the Congress and the Administration to strengthen its oversight and enforcement activities and look forward to supporting these important initiatives.

Jan
20

Terminated Regional Centers Page Added to USCIS.gov – IIUSA All Access Pass Resources Provide Comprehensive Analysis

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created a new webpage to list all 16 terminated EB-5 Regional Centers, their termination date and state(s) served. The page notes that USCIS may terminate a regional center’s participation in the Immigrant Investor Program when the regional center fails to:

  • Submit Form I-924A on an annual basis, on a cumulative basis and/or as otherwise requested by USCIS to demonstrate continued eligibility; or
  • Promote economic growth as required.

On the December 5, 2014 USCIS EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement (read summary here or listen here), EB-5 Program Chief Nicholas Colucci noted that from the federal fiscal year ended September 30, 2014 (FY-2014), of the nearly 600 designated Regional Centers, USCIS terminated 7 RCs for failure to file I-924A and is still reviewing responses to 28 notices of intent to terminate regional centers it claimed no longer served to promote the economies of their areas.

Of the 16 Regional Centers that have been terminated by USCIS, none have been IIUSA members.

All Access Pass Gives Members Access To Regional Center Notices of Intent to Terminate (NOITs) & Final Termination Letters 

IIUSA has improved the All Access Pass for 2015 to include (aside from its comprehensive EB-5 webinar/video library) Regional Center NOITs and Final Termination Letters. Currently, IIUSA has USCIS documentation from six Regional Centers and expects to receive further disclosures in coming months. You must be an All Access Pass holder to access over 100+ pages of documentation relating to these notices, as well as a comprehensive data report including the number of months from issuance of the NOIT to Final Termination and the number of months the Regional Center remained approved until final termination.

IIUSA also produced a new report on Regional Center designations, exclusive to All Access Pass holders. This report includes a breakdown of all 619 USCIS-designated Regional Centers across the country – 250 of whom are IIUSA members – which detail the apporoval dates, states served, approved geography, approved industries and economic models.

You can read more about the All Access Pass here. With questions, please contact us as info@iiusa.org.

Jan
16

California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Conducts Survey of EB-5 Regional Centers in the Golden State

Back in October, IIUSA looked at the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) recently launched EB-5 portal to expedite the application process for certifying Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs).

Within the GO-Biz, the International Affairs and Business Development unit is charged with implementing the State of California’s EB5 foreign investor program.  This program not only administers TEA designation letters, but promotes the state’s EB5 visa program to foreign investors and manages the EB-5 Regional Center information on behalf of the State of California.

As part of its mission, Go-Biz also conducts an annual survey on the state’s Regional Centers which list the Regional Center contact information, website, number of completed projects, job creation, total foreign direct investment and number of I-526/I-829 petition approvals. To view/download this spreadsheet, visit the Go-Biz EB-5 Portal here.

Any questions for the International Affairs and Business Development unit should be directed to EB5info@gov.ca.gov.

Dec
24

IIUSA EB-5 Market Exchange Featured in Riverside County Export Magazine

IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph with Richard Dozier, Riverside County Official, at the 4th Annual EB-5 Market Exchange, October 23, 2014 in San Francisco, CA.

IIUSA was featured in the most recent edition of EXPORT magazine, a periodical detailing foreign trade benefits and trends in Riverside County, California. Established in 2009, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, led by Commissioner Tom Freeman, has spearheaded an effort to attract foreign investment to their county.

The article, which reviews several panels and takeaways from IIUSA’s 4th Annual EB-5 Market Exchange also reinforces IIUSA’s singular focus on representing diverse industry of stakeholders and advocating for a permanent and successful EB-5 Regional Center Program.

The economy of Riverside County, California has seen its share of successful EB-5 projects of late. In fact, EB-5 capital helped to revitalize an abandoned World War II-era warehouse into a thriving manufacturing facility and headquarters for the solar energy manufacturer SolarMax.

Read more about Riverside County’s EB-5 successes in an August article written by IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph for a National Association of Counties (NACo) newsletter and the October article “The Innovative ‘All of the Above’ Approach to Job Creation” published by The Huffington Post.
Dec
23

New Department of State (DOS) FY2014 Statistics Reveals Important Trends in EB-5 Visa Usage, Market Diversification

IIUSA Editorial Committee member Suzanne Lazicki put together an excellent chart revealing visa data according to immigrant investor origin (and percentage total) and visas issued to investors in direct vs. Regional Center investments. See below.

When we look more closely at the data, we notice that the number of EB5 investors from Mainland China continues to grow. In fact, in FY2014, 9,128 EB-5 visas or 85.4% of total visas went to Chinese applicants (versus 6,895 visas or 80.5% of the total in FY2013). In the Q3 Issue of the Regional Center Business Journal, IIUSA Policy Analyst Lee Li organized historical EB-5 visa usage data illustrating how demand from Chinese investors has driven the overall growth of the EB-5 Program over the past several years.

Aside from China, EB-5 investor demand is largest in South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and Vietnam. With retrogression for China visa applicants predicted this fiscal year, EB-5 stakeholders should take heed of this important data.
(Click Link Below to View in PDF)
(Click Link Below to View in PDF)