Apr
27

Visit the USCIS Idea Community to Provide Feedback on Potential EB-5 Regulatory and Policy Changes

On April 27th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent a message to EB-5 Stakeholders encouraging the use of its “Idea Community” online crowdsourcing tool for comment on potential EB-5 regulatory and policy changes. Visit the Idea Community. Below is the message in full.

Dear Stakeholder,

As mentioned at the EB-5 listening session on April 25, USCIS is considering potential EB-5 regulatory and policy changes and want to hear from you, our stakeholders. That’s why we hosted the listening session to begin receiving your individual feedback. We want to continue to hear your thoughts and ideas. Specifically, we would like to hear your individual thoughts on the following four topics:

  • Minimum investment amounts;
  • The TEA designation process;
  • The regional center designation process, including, but not limited to, the exemplar process and the designation of the geographic scope of a regional center; and
  • Indirect job creation methodologies.

As you may know, minimum investment amounts have remained constant since 1991.  We would like your feedback on whether these amounts ($1 million or $500,000) should increase and, if so, the methodology and process by which you believe an increase would be most effective.

We’d also like your thoughts on targeted employment areas (or “TEAs”) and the TEA designation process.  We are specifically seeking your feedback on how the process currently works for you and, if improvements can be made, your input for improving it.

Another topic on which we are seeking feedback is the regional center designation process, including, but not limited to, the exemplar process and the designation of the geographic scope of a regional center.  We are seeking stakeholder feedback on how the process currently works for you and, if improvements can be made, your input for improving it.

Finally, we’d like to hear from you on indirect job creation methodologies.

We are using the USCIS Idea Community, an online crowdsourcing tool, as one method for you to submit your individual feedback and input on these four topics.  Please note that we are only seeking individual input.  We are not seeking group or consensus advice.  Participating in the USCIS Idea Community is easy. All you need is an active email address. You can create a profile and submit ideas.

You can visit the USCIS Idea Community to submit your ideas on the four topics listed above until May 11, 2016.

 See you in the USCIS Idea Community!

Apr
25

Dial-in for Today’s USCIS EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement (1pm EST/10am PST)

USCIS EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement Dial-in Information

Monday April 25, 2016 1:00 p.m. (Eastern)


EB-5 Stakeholder Listening Session

When: Monday April 25, 2016

Time: 1:00 pm EST/10am PST

Toll-free call-in number: 1-800-619-3257

Toll number if you are calling from outside the U.S.: 1-210-234-0095

Passcode: 74684

Details:  On Monday April 25th at 1:00 pm EST/10am PST, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold a stakeholder to discuss the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Please see below the four topics that USCIS would like your input on during the listening session. Please note, suggestions and ideas will not be collected prior to the listening session.

  • Minimum investment amounts;
  • The TEA designation process;
  • The regional center designation process, including, but not limited to, the exemplar process and the designation of the geographic scope of a regional center; and
  • Indirect job creation methodologies.

For more information, you can contact a USCIS represntative at USCIS-IGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov.

Apr
20

Tweet along with IIUSA at the EB-5 Advocacy Conference Today Through Friday! #EB5isWorking

Tweet

The 9th Annual IIUSA EB-5 Advocacy Conference begins today and continues through Friday April 22nd. To follow the action, tweet the conference slogan: #EB5isworking. To visit IIUSA’s twitter page, click here and follow us!

Next week, we will highlight the best tweets on the blog.

For a full list of speakers, and to experience the mobile app from your computer, click here.

Apr
19

U.S. Department of State Issues May Visa Bulletin Cutoff Date for Mainland China Applicants Advances

The U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs released its Visa Bulletin for the month of May 2016 (View PDF). The bulletin revealed a cutoff date February 8, 2014 for Mainland-China born visa applicants, moving up a week from February 1, 2014 in the April bulletin.

As of March 1, Chinese investors who filed their I-526 petitions before January 22, 2014 will be eligible to schedule interviews with Department of State Consular offices and be issued conditional immigration visas to enter the U.S. or apply for adjustment of status if they are already in the U.S.

Action dates for other countries remain current, allowing qualified applicants from other parts of the world to move forward with obtaining their EB-5 visa.

United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs May 2016 Visa Bulletin

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Apr
18

IIUSA Statement on Coordinated EB-5 Enforcement Actions by SEC & State of Vermont

IIUSA Seal 2015As the national trade association representing over 275 EB-5 Regional Centers, IIUSA welcomes the continued efforts by U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) to protect the integrity of the EB-5 Program (the “Program”) through enforcement actions and interagency collaboration with federal, state and international partners. The SEC’s latest EB-5 enforcement action against several related EB-5 projects in Vermont was the result of coordinated investigations that resulted in civil action being filed in Miami federal court in addition to state court in Montpelier, VT. It is important to let the U.S. legal system be allowed to work without public comment on the allegations.

Compliance with – and effective enforcement of – U.S. securities laws is as essential for the EB-5 Program as it is for any investment vehicle to maintain the confidence of all stakeholders (from investors to project developers and the often many organizations in between) and ensure that the Program continues to bring capital and job creation to American communities. Inter-agency oversight of the Program is needed to protect its integrity and this latest enforcement action demonstrates that federal authorities take the role of deterring non-compliance with U.S. securities laws seriously to ensure lawful capital raising activities are undertaken to contribute to economic growth and create jobs in America. Since 2008, the Program has contributed over $13 billion in foreign direct investment to the U.S. to create tens of thousands of American jobs at no cost to the taxpayer (with over $4 billion coming in 2015 alone).

IIUSA has a track record of working proactively to improve EB-5 Program integrity. We have worked cooperatively with Congress to support legislative enhancements, including recent and bipartisan, bicameral efforts in the current 114th Congress. IIUSA also has also worked cooperatively with the SEC and other regulatory agencies to strengthen, filing amicus briefs in support of earlier SEC actions that stepped in to protect investor funds from misappropriation by Regional Centers and/or affiliated entities. We also regularly provide our members with opportunities to hear from experts in securities and immigration law – including representatives from federal and state regulatory agencies — to better understand program requirements and support their compliance. In fact, at IIUSA’s 11th Annual EB-5 Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC next week the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Municipal Securities Regulatory Board (MSRB), and North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) will jointly address over 350 EB-5 stakeholders in attendance (see: www.iiusa.org/2016).

In addition to our work with government stakeholders, IIUSA has also collaborated with cross-sector partners like the Council of Development Finance Agencies, U.S. Department of Commerce, staffs of several Governors, the National Association of Counties, U.S. Conference of Mayors and many other stakeholders to educate them on the EB-5 program and engage them as partners in deterring fraud and abuse. And, we have worked with leading members of Congress to develop legislation that will further enhance Program integrity and have supported legislative, regulatory, and administrative enhancements to EB-5 Program integrity – while also development and promoting ethical EB-5 business practices and self-regulatory policies.

As Congress works on legislation to reform the Program as part of its upcoming expiration date of September 30, 2016, IIUSA looks forward to continuing to provide comments on reform measures to strengthen government enforcement capabilities and oversight responsibilities, in addition to enhanced compliance requirements. It is imperative that EB-5 be reformed and reauthorized for the long term so it can continue to contribute billions of dollars of capital investment to the U.S. economy that support tens of thousands of American jobs annually.

 

Apr
15

IIUSA Executive Director, Peter. D Joseph, Testifies in Front of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the EB-5 Program

SealOn Wednesday April 13th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its second hearing of 2016on the EB-5 Program titled, The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse. Executive Director Peter D. Joseph served as a witness on behalf of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the largest and most diverse association of the EB-5 Regional Center industry.

The hearing featured two panels. On the first panel, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, 6th District) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI, 13th District) Honorable Mark Amoedi (R-NV 2nd District) were called as witnesses.

Testifying alongside Mr. Joseph on the second panel were Mr. Daniel J. Healy, Chief Executive Officer, Civitas Capital Group (also a former member of IIUSA’s Board of Directors), Mr. Timothy Whipple, J.D., Former General Counsel, Iowa Economic Development Authority and Mr. Gary Friedland, Professor, New York University Stern School of Business.

Key Links: 

Hearing

Written Testimony of Peter D. Joseph

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Leahy, and Distinguished Members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Peter D. Joseph. I am the Executive Director of Invest In the USA (“IIUSA”), the national non-profit trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center industry based in Washington, DC. I have been involved in the EB-5 Regional Center Program (the “Program”) for almost ten years, working first in the legal and private sectors of the industry before beginning at my current position over six years ago. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be here today to share my perspective with you. Leading IIUSA in the years following Great Recession allowed me to see the growing number of communities, industries, and people benefitting from EB-5 firsthand at a time our country needed it most.

IIUSA appreciate the bipartisan, bicameral support and leadership of many in Congress and on this committee. I have had the honor of working closely with many of your offices on this issue in the last several years and believe we have a shared goal of making EB-5 a more efficient and effective program. Our shared commitment to the Program has turned a once underutilized immigration program into a vital source of U.S. job creating investment capital today. Since 2008, the Program’s annual contribution to foreign direct investment (“FDI”) inbound into the U.S. grew over 1,200% to total almost $5 billion in fiscal year 2015 alone (see Appendix I). This investment capital is creating tens of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers in diverse communities by funding projects in a wide variety of industry sectors across the country – all at no cost to the taxpayer. In fact, the Program generates much needed tax revenue to the tune of over half a billion dollars in state and local tax revenue and over one billion in federal tax revenue from 2010-2013 alone. Read the Full Written Testimony

Apr
12

Press Release: IIUSA Executive Director to Testify at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on EB-5 Program Tomorrow (Wed 4/13 | 10am EST)

Industry trade group to highlight Program’s benefits to U.S. economic development policy

1On Wednesday April 13th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its second hearing of 2016 on the EB-5 Program titled, The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse. Executive Director Peter D. Joseph will serve as a witness on behalf of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the largest and most diverse association of the EB-5 Regional Center industry. The hearing will commence at 10:00am EST and can be viewed at this link.

“On behalf of IIUSA, I am honored to provide testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Targeted Employment Areas in EB-5 and look forward to adding our voice to the public conversation on the topic,” said Joseph. “Since our founding over a decade ago, IIUSA has proudly worked closely with congressional offices on reform efforts and program reauthorizations made possible by the continued bipartisan, bicameral support of the Program. We collectively represent big and small projects, serving urban and rural communities, and catalyzing economic development in industry sectors ranging from real estate and manufacturing to energy and infrastructure and more. IIUSA remains committed to working with Congress and the industry to ensure the shared goals of needed reform and long-term reauthorization.”

The hearing will feature two panels. On the first panel, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, 6th District) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI, 13th District) have been called as witnesses. Testifying alongside Mr. Joseph on the second panel are Mr. Daniel J. Healy, Chief Executive Officer, Civitas Capital Group (also a former member of IIUSA’s Board of Directors), Mr. Timothy Whipple, J.D., Former General Counsel, Iowa Economic Development Authority and Mr. Gary Friedland, Professor, New York University Stern School of Business.

A Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) is an area which, at the time of the EB-5 investment, is either a rural area, or an area with an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the national average. In designated TEAs, the minimum investment for an EB-5 investor is $500,000 instead of $1,000,000. To review frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Targeted Employment Areas, click here.

The EB-5 Program emerged as a much-needed foreign direct investment into the U.S. since the financial crisis in 2008, growing from a few hundred million dollars then to over a billion dollars per quarter in 2015. Exponential growth over 1,200 percent over the past eight years brings both opportunities and challenges. IIUSA supported 2015 efforts at reform and long-term reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program to increase stability, improve program integrity, and enhance economic impact. Congress instead reauthorized the Program as is through September 30, 2016 and has since held multiple hearings on EB-5 this year.

Founded in 2005, IIUSA is the national not-for-profit trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center industry with a mission of advocacy, education, industry development, and research. The organization represents more than 270 Regional Centers and 190 associated members. IIUSA’s members are engines of economic growth and job creation, accounting for over 95 percent of capital flowing through the Program. Learn more at IIUSA.org.

Apr
11

Administrative Appeals Office Launches New Search Tool

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a search tool for most non-precedent decisions since 2005.

Non-precedent decisions apply existing law and policy to the facts of an individual case. The decisions are binding on the parties to the case, but do not apply new or alternative interpretations of law or policy. However, USCIS occasionally “adopts” an AAO non-precedent decision as binding policy guidance for agency personnel. These decisions are available at Adopted AAO Decisions.

You can search most non-precedent decisions dating back to 2005 via the new search function. If you are searching for an AAO decision before 2005, you can contact the USCIS Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIA) Office. USCIS redacts personally identifiable information and other sensitive material from non-precedent decisions before the decisions are made public.

For AAO precedent decisions, which may announce new legal interpretations or agency policy, visit the website of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

IIUSA Members can view more EB-5 AAO resources in the IIUSA Member Portal.

Apr
06

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on EB-5 Scheduled for April 13th

Senate Committee on the Judiciary: The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse

Date: Wednesday April 13, 2016

Time: 10:00 AM (EST)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building 226

Presiding: Chairman Grassley (R-IA)

Link: Click Here

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that it has scheduled the hearing titled The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse for Wednesday April 13th at 10:00am EST in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226. The Committee had originally announced that the hearing would be held this Wednesday Match 2.

The hearing will be the second hearing on the EB-5 Program that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have held this year. On February 2 the Committee held a hearing titled The Failures and Future of the EB-5 Regional Center Program: Can it be Fixed? A recording of that hearing can be viewed here. 
Apr
06

USCIS Announces EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement for Monday, April 25th

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that its next EB-5 stakeholder engagement will be held on Monday, April 25, from 1:00 to 2:30pm (Eastern)/10 am to 11:30 am (Pacific). This “listening session” is an opportunity for USCIS to provide feedback on potential EB-5 regulatory and other policy changes. USCIS will share a list of topics that they would like the EB-5 industry’s feedback on within the next few days.

The engagement can be attended either in person at the USCIS Headquarters, in Washington D.C., or via teleconference. To register for the engagement please follow the steps provided by USCIS below.

To register, 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”

If you wish to attend in person, please indicate so by clicking on your subscriber preferences and selecting your method of attendance. Please note that seating is limited, so please register no later than Wednesday, April 13, at 5 p.m. (Eastern).

Once USCIS processes your registration, 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 USCISIGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov.
Note to Media: This engagement is not for press purposes. Please contact the USCIS Press Office at (202) 272-1200 for any media inquiries.

View the Event Invitation


USCIS Deputy Chief Julia Harrison to Speak at IIUSA EB-5 Advocacy Conference on April 21st

Harrison
USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) Deputy Chief Julia Harrison will be a Guest of Honor Speaker at IIUSA’s EB-5 Advocacy Conference on April 21 from 3:45-4:30. Ms. Harrison joins a terrific slate of Guest of Honor speakers and panel presentations for the 9th Annual EB-5 Advocacy Conference, the largest EB-5 Conference of its kind,  April 20-22.  To view the full agenda click here.

Purchase your Tickets Here