Mar
31

USCIS Uploads 12/5/14 EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement Presentation Materials to USCIS.gov

As industry participants prepare for the upcoming EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement on April 22nd, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uploaded several documents from the in-person stakeholder engagement from December 5, 2014.

This particular engagement provided some useful data and a few pieces of guidance for EB-5 stakeholders including comments from USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez, filing and adjudication data, staffing updates, processing methods, electronic filing, retrogression guidance, source of funds, Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) and more. Read a full summary from IIUSA Vice President Robert C. Divine here and listen to the recording of the stakeholder engagement here.

Resources recently uploaded include:

Mar
25

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy Translates 2013 Joint EB-5 Investor Alert into Chinese (Simplified), Korean & Spanish

Recently, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy translated the October 2013 SEC/USCIS jointly issued investor alert into two three foreign languages: Chinese (View here), Korean (View Here) and Spanish (View Here).

On October 1, 2013 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a joint investor alert containing 14 specific suggestions that investors can use to undertake due diligence on investment opportunities and affiliated partners to protect the safety of their investment and compliance with immigration and securities laws. You can read the investor alert here.

As the EB-5 Regional Center Industry’s trade association, it is IIUSA’s duty to maintain open and effective communication channels with governmental and regulatory authorities, such as the USCIS, SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), and relay information to our members and to the industry at large. Dissemination of information relating to investor education and safety, thanks to thorough due diligence, is key.

In February 2013, IIUSA published several blog posts relating to investment due diligence tools, resources and outreach from both the SEC and FINRA including information on the SEC-developed web portal investor.gov and Broker Check search tool, which allow investors to do background research on FINRA registered brokerage firms and finance professionals.

In March 2013, IIUSA posted about NASAA’s investor education tools to its website. NASAA, which is comprised of State Securities Regulators, is responsible for “licensing securities firms and investment professionals, such as broker-dealers and investment advisers, registering certain securities offerings, reviewing financial offerings of small companies, auditing branch office sales practices and record-keeping, promoting investor education, and most importantly, enforcing state securities laws. In addition to protecting investors, many state regulators also help small businesses raise money and comply with securities laws.”

Lastly, in June 2013, IIUSA’s Best Practices Committee recommended alist of best practices to provide guidance to the industry to promote business practices that will foster the growth and success of the EB-5 program. This list, comprising 38 points on matters from Regional Center Oversight, Securities Issues, Escrow, Agents/Marketing, Immigration attorneys and investors relations are meant to provide guidance to regional centers seeking to enhance their operations and provide protection to themselves, investors and other involved parties.

By providing this information to any and all investors through their various websites, the U.S. government is clearly sending a message to investors from all over the world that they are protected under U.S. securities laws, which exist to deter fraud and punish those who partake in it. It is the responsibility of the investor, however, to perform thorough due diligence on investment opportunities and affiliated business partners. Thanks to U.S. securities laws, and the outreach and resources of the SEC, FINRA and NASAA, the tools are not hard to find.

Combining this guidance with the recommendation provided by IIUSA’s hard working leadership, committees, and membership to promote ethically sound business practices, there is now a robust body of work with several layers for the industry to turn to for guidance.
Other important links provided by Investor.gov pertaining to SEC enforcement actions or investor alerts involving EB-5 include:

Mar
24

USCIS Announces EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Stakeholder Engagement for Wednesday, April 22nd

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, April 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the EB-5 program. This engagement is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance dialogue with our stakeholders in the EB-5 program.
During the first part of this engagement, we will provide EB-5 program updates. The second part will be a question-and-answer session. We invite you to ask non-case specific questions or provide feedback on the EB-5 program.

To register for this session, please follow the steps below:
  • Visit the USCIS registration page to confirm your participation
  • Enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Event Registration” tab
  • Be sure to provide your full name and organization
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit”
Once USCIS processes your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details.

To submit non-case specific questions before the teleconference, please:
If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days after you register, please email Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.
Mar
19

IIUSA Press Release: 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit Academy to Feature Panel on Accessing EB-5 Capital



2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit Academy to Feature Panel on Accessing EB-5 Capital

IIUSA to participate on foreign direct investment and economic development panel to be held Sunday March 22nd


Washington DC (PRWEB) March 18, 2015

Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the national not-for-profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program (the “Program”), announces that Executive Director Peter D. Joseph will moderate a panel at the SelectUSA Investment Pre-Summit Academy on March 22nd at the National Harbor in Maryland. Mr. Joseph will be joined by IIUSA members Angelique Brunner of EB5 Capital and Brent Raymond of the State of Vermont EB-5 Regional Center for the panel “EB-5: How Does it Fit with FDI Development,” which will focus on educating economic development organizations (EDOs) on EB-5 best practices.

“IIUSA is honored to participate in this important pre-summit workshop and represent the EB-5 Regional Center industry with experienced EB-5 practitioners from both the public and private sector,” said IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph. “For many years, IIUSA has worked with SelectUSA to promote American job creation and enhance economic growth by encouraging and supporting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States through the EB-5 Program. I look forward to sharing valuable industry insights with economic development organizations on how EB-5 can be aligned with local economic development strategies to spur economic development via FDI. EB-5 capital has played a vital role in America’s recovery from the Great Recession. These at-risk investments have given projects across the country the ability to add bank financing and other outside investments to their capital stack – a key in post-recession capital markets for economic development projects that will help write the next chapter of local economies across the country,” Joseph said.

Housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce, SelectUSA is a government-wide program established in 2011 to promote and facilitate business investment into the United States in order to create jobs, spur economic growth, and advance U.S. competitiveness. According to a report released last year by the Executive Office of the President and the Department of Commerce, “SelectUSA has directly assisted in winning more than $18 billion in job-creating business investments for the United States in 17 different states and territories, and since October 2013, has assisted nearly 500 businesses, encouraging them to invest in the U.S. and helping them to navigate the Federal government.”

The SelectUSA Academy is an orientation for companies, state and local governments, and economic development organizations attending SelectUSA’s annual Investment Summit where participants will learn about the finer details of investment in the United States.

IIUSA has a strong track record of engaging with government entities like SelectUSA to educate stakeholders about the EB-5 program. Other organizations that IIUSA has worked with include the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA), the National Association of State Securities Administrators (NASAA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and U.S. Department of Commerce, staffs of several Governors, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCOM), and National Association of Counties (NACo).

To learn more about or register for the Academy and the Investment Summit, click here. To view the full conference agenda, click here (PDF).

Mar
17

New USCIS.gov Page Posted on EB-5 Evidence Tips

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted a new webpage to its the USCIS.gov site for the EB-5 Program on tips for evidencing source of funds documents. On February 26, USCIS held an EB-5 Stakeholder teleconference titled (listen here, read summary here).

Below are the contents of the new webpage:

  • Inconsistencies in documents: There may be legitimate reasons for inconsistencies. For example, the dimensions listed on pre-construction contracts for house purchases may vary from the actual dimensions shown on other documents. When submitting documents, providing explanations and evidence to reconcile inconsistencies will greatly reduce the chances of a Request for Evidence (RFE).
  • Unavailability of documents: Whenever possible, explain and provide evidence of the reason why a particular document is not available. For example, if claiming that proof of prior employment is unavailable because a company no longer exists, submit evidence that the company has been dissolved.
  • Probative value of evidence: “Probative value” refers to whether a document proves or supports a claim/eligibility requirement. So, for example, income tax returns from the government would have greater probative value and credibility than a letter from a family member or a friend as proof of income to show lawful source of funds.
  • Incomplete translations: USCIS requires complete English translations of all foreign language documents submitted as evidence. Ensuring that foreign language documents are translated in their entirety before submitting them will reduce the chances of an RFE or Request for Clarification.
Mar
16

Record Setting EB-5 Capital Formation Continues in Q1-2015

While IIUSA is merely weeks away from releasing its FY2013 Economic Impact Report of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, we would like to whet your appetite with some updated figures on minimum foreign direct investment (FDI) contributed by the EB-5 Program. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 (FY2015), the EB-5 Program contributed at least $826 million to the U.S. economy, the highest quarterly output in the Program’s history!

The minimum foreign direct investment figure is calculated by multiplying the number of approved I-526 petitions (according to data provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) by the minimum EB-5 investment amount ($500,000). In Q1 2015, there were a total of 1,652 approvals, a growth of 50% from Q42014. To view the complete I-526 data report, click here.

 

Looking at EB-5 contributions of FDI year-over-year, FY2014 proved to be a high-water mark for the industry. In total, 5,115 I-526 petitions were approved which represents over 2.5 billion dollars in FDI.

 

To view the complete I-526 data report, click above (Members-Only)

 

Mar
11

USCIS Explains How to Deal with EB-5 Source of Funds Issues By Stephen Yale-Loehr

Stephen Yale-Loehr, President Emeritus, IIUSA; Of Counsel, Miller Mayer LLP

On February 26, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted a teleconference. USCIS labeled the call the first in a series of “Interactive” engagements designed to address adjudicative issues USCIS observes in reviewing EB-5 filings. This Interactive focused on how to deal with requests for evidence (RFEs) in EB-5 source of funds issues.

As background, every EB-5 investor must show that the money they are investing in the United States was lawfully obtained. There are a variety of ways to prove lawful source of funds. The key is good documentation showing both the source and path of the money* (see footnote).

Key points of focus in the “Interactive” discussion included the importance of third party documentation. Self-serving documents prepared by the petitioner or friends are not as credible as documents from third parties, such as governmental authorities and banks.

USCIS officials explained common EB-5 source of funds scenarios and how to document them. For example:

  • Earned income: The investor should present proof of their salary, employment certificates, affidavits from past employers, income tax records, and bank statements showing deposits over time. USCIS prefers objective evidence, such as bank statements, over statements from friends or relatives. If an employer writes a letter certifying that the investor works there, corroborate the letter with bank statements showing regular monthly deposits of the investor’s salary.
  • Investment proceeds: The investor should show: (1) that the money used to make the initial investment were obtained lawfully; (2) that the investor owned the investment; and (3) receipt of the capital from the investment proceeds. Bank statements and documents of the sale of the investment are key here.
  • Sale of property: The investor should show the lawful source of the money used to buy the property. The investor should include the purchase contract for the property, the ownership registration or deed, and tax receipts for property taxes paid on the property. Document the property sale and any taxes paid on the sale. If a mortgage has to be paid off as part of the property sale, include documentation of that payoff in the source of funds package.
  • Property loans: The investor should include documentation of the loan or mortgage contract, the notation of the lien on the ownership documents, evidence of the value of the property compared to the value of the loan, and any relevant bank records. The USCIS may question a loan document that doesn’t mention repayment terms, loan duration, or the property used as collateral for the loan. The investor must be personally liable to repay the loan.
  • Ownership in a company: The investor should show the lawful source of the money used to buy an ownership interest in the company.
  • Company loans: The investor must show that the company has enough assets to make the loan to the investor. If the investor is a shareholder, include financial audit reports, bank statements, etc. The investor should submit a copy of the shareholder meeting minutes documenting and approving the loan.
  • Gifts: The donor must show how they lawfully obtained the money to give the money to the investor. For example, if a parent earned money over years, the documentation described above concerning earned income would apply here to show that the parent lawfully earned the money to give it to his or her child to make an EB-5 investment.
The USCIS concluded the call with general tips for avoiding a source of funds RFE:

  • Explain any inconsistencies in the documents provided;
  • If a required document is unavailable, explain why;
  • Consider the probative value of evidence (i.e., evidence from an objective third party is better than evidence from the investor, his or her friends or family members, or his or employer); and
  • Provide full translations of foreign documents. Do not translate just part of a document.
Stephen Yale-Loehr (syl@millermayer.com) is co-author of Immigration Law and Procedure, the leading immigration law treatise, published by LexisNexis Matthew Bender. He also teaches immigration and asylum law at Cornell Law School, and is of counsel at Miller Mayer (www.millermayer.com) in Ithaca, NY. He founded the Invest In the USA (IIUSA) trade association to promote the EB-5 program and to liaise with Congress and the immigration agency. The IIUSA website is atwww.iiusa.org.
 

*See generally Charles Gordon, Stanley Mailman, Stephen Yale-Loehr & Ronald Y. Wada, Immigration Law and Procedure § 39.07 (rev. ed. 2015). For a general article about the source of funds requirement in EB-5 cases, see this link.

Mar
09

USCIS Online Created to Continue Discussion on Recent Stakeholder Engagement: EB-5 Interactive Series – Request for Evidence

 

USCIS Idea Community to Facilitate Further Discussion on Recent EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement

Last week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has set up an online portal, called the USCIS Idea Community, for EB-5 Stakeholders to submit comments or questions, provide feedback, and continue the discussion from the February 26th EB-5 Interactive Series Engagement on Requests for Evidence on Lawful Source of Funds (listen here).  As of March 6th, there have been 60+ comments submitted.  The Idea Community will be active through March 13th.

Last year, USCIS set up its Idea Community for EB-5 Stakeholder comment after the April 23, 2014 EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement and to solicit input on potential regulatory changes to the EB-5 Program.

USCIS Announces Listening Session to Provide Feedback on Business-Focused Immigration Enhancements

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites all stakeholders to participate in a listening session on Thursday, March 19, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.(Eastern) to provide feedback on one area of the executive actions on immigration: business-focused immigration enhancements.

Under those actions, USCIS will work with other government agencies to modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to grow our economy and create jobs. During the listening session, USCIS officials will provide an overview of the new initiatives and seek your input on enhancements.

To register for this session, please follow these steps:
  • Visit the USCIS registration page
  • Enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Event Registration” tab
  • Provide your full name and organization, if any
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit”

Once we process your registration, USCIS will send you a confirmation email with details about how to participate in the teleconference.

If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.
Mar
04

SelectUSA Summit to Showcase Diversity of U.S. Investment Opportunities for Foreign Investors

As an exhibitor and sponsor of the Second Annual SelectUSA Summit (March 23-24, 2015) IIUSA is proud to represent the EB-5 industry at an event with the sole focus of delivering foreign direct investment (FDI) to communities around the country.

Already, more than 2,000 people from 77 countries have registered for the Summit, which promises to be an unparalleled opportunity to facilitate investment in the United States.

SelectUSA Academy – Sunday March 22nd 

The SelectUSA Academy is an intensive, practical orientation that will present the basics of investing in the United States at a level of detail that will not be covered during the main portion of the Summit. The Academy is set up in two tracks for international investors and economic development organizations (EDOs). The Academy will run from 2:00-5:45pm followed by a special networking reception.

The Investor Track will primarily target investors who are new to the U.S. market and feature sessions on the investment process, what international firms should look for when investing, partnering with EDOs and resources for navigating investor visas.

The EDO Track, tailored to state and local governments and economic development organizations, will focus on trends and resources to help EDOs achieve their FDI attraction goals. Sessions will cover how global companies approach expansion to the U.S., building, executing and sustaining an FDI strategy, the EB-5 Program and FDI development and trends in reshoring and FDI.

The EB-5 Panel, titled “EB-5: How Does it Fit with FDI Development?” will be led by  IIUSA Executive Director Peter Joseph, IIUSA Director Angel Brunner (President, EB5 Capital) and Vermont EB-5 Regional Center Executive Director Brent Raymond. The focus of this panel is to educate economic development organizations (EDOs) on best practices in EB-5 funding.

  • To sign up for the Academy, register for the SelectUSA InvestmentSummit as an International Firm, U.S. EDO, or Exhibitor, then select the “SelectUSA Academy” add-on ($95) during the registration process. If you are already attending the Summit and want to update your registration to include the Academy, please contact the Summit event planner at info@selectusasummit.com with your confirmation number.
  • Click here to view the Summit Academy flyer.
  • Click here to view the agenda for the Summit Academy.
Second Annual SelectUSA Summit – Monday-Tuesday March 23-24

The Second Annual SelectUSA Summit is designed to bring together investors from all over the world, as well as economic development organizations from every corner of the United States, high-level government officials, and others working to facilitate investment in the United States.

On February 19th, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that 26 U.S. ambassadors are currently signed up to personally lead delegations of investors to the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit. A full list of ambassadors attending the conference  can be found here. U.S. ambassadors and their teams in embassies and consulates on every continent are recruiting high-potential investors to participate.

Additionally, panelists will include high-profile CEOs who have successfully invested in the United States, state and local leaders, industry association leadership, and other experts at the forefront of investment. Confirmed speakers include U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Bruce Andrews, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA.

Join IIUSA in representing the EB-5 Program at this year’s SelectUSA Summit!

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.