IIUSA Leadership convened in Miami, FL this week at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) (Mexico City Chapter) “Show Me the Jobs” Conference. The dinner was attended by U.S. Representative Joseph Garcia (D-FL), who participated in IIUSA discussions on how the industry can break the processing backlog at USCIS, and update leadership on the status of comprehensive immigration reform in the House. As you can tell, IIUSA is working diligently to fix these processing times at USCIS through a comprehensive advocacy strategy that ignores no communication channel, including federal, state, local government and strategic partners.
The highlight of the AILA Conference was a keynote address by USCIS Special Counsel to the Director, Robert Silvers, who reported the following:
- The new EB-5 Program Office in Washington, DC will officially open its doors this Monday (5/6) in the USCIS DC headquarters;
- Daniel Renaud is currently serving in the role of Acting Chief of the office, and Robert Cox Deputy Chief, respectively;
- The adjudicators to be hired to staff up this new office will be economists (as opposed to immigration officers);
- Eventually, the new office will have “case agents” who will be assigned certain clients to interact with Regional Centers via email or telephone to work through issues and minimize the need to issue requests for evidence (RFEs);
- USCIS will transition EB-5 petitions to its electronic filing system (ELIS) this summer, starting with I-526 petitions on a pilot and non-mandatory basis. USCIS is also working on developing an electronic repository for project documents that could be linked to individual 526/829 petitions and become far more efficient along the way; and,
- USCIS is currently reviewing the comments received from industry stakeholders on the EB-5 adjudications memo and CIS Ombudsman EB-5 meeting.
From these announcements, it is clear that USCIS is working hard to improve its administration of the EB-5 Program – with a significant number of initiatives underway. IIUSA supports these initiatives, however while these changes are underway – a backlog of 7,000+ petitions is sitting at USCIS, representing $3.5+ billions in foreign direct investment and 70,000+ American jobs (all at no cost to the American taxpayer). Without addressing that fundamental issue, confidence in the Program is wavering from foreign investors and project developers alike.