Is I-924 the new I-526? And what does “exemplar” mean?

UPDATE: The content of this post is now outdated. See instead my post with on-going updates I-924 options: What are actual and hypothetical projects? What does exemplar mean?

In its Proposed Changes to Processing of EB-5 Cases, USCIS offers interesting possibilities for the future — including accelerated and premium processing options — and also provides insight into its current thinking about the Regional Center program. The agency privileges “clear, focused applications and petitions,” and assumes that I-924 regional center applications are based on real projects and closely linked to I-526 investor petitions.

I sense a shift from the 2009 Neufeld Memo, which said that RC proposals could be based on “actual” or “hypothetical” investment projects, and that a “hypothetical” project would “demonstrate how an actual investment project will be capitalized and operate in a manner that will create at least 10 direct or indirect jobs per alien investor.” That seemed to leave the door open for regional center proposals to present hypothetical scenarios in lieu of actual projects — which is in line with regulations stating that an RC proposal is based “on general predictions, contained in the proposal, concerning the kinds of commercial enterprises that will receive capital from aliens” (Public Law 107-273). But I don’t see that flexibility in the Regional Center application options assumed in the most recent proposal.

[quoted from page 1 of Proposed Changes to USCIS’s Processing of EB-5 Cases]

Regional Centers submit I-924 applications in one of two varieties.
• First, “actual” applications present “shovel-ready” business projects that are sufficiently developed to support the immediate filing of actual I-526 petitions from participating investors. “Actual” applications are supported by specific business plans and economic analysis, the actual capital-investment structures and documentation for the investment offering, the anticipated regional economic impacts, and the Regional Center’s operating plan and structure. The review of the specific documentation to be provided in I-526 petitions for projects that can be started immediately after the approval of the I-924 application promotes efficiency and predictability within the EB-5 immigrant petitioning process as issues can be identified and resolved within the I-924 application prior to the filing of any I-526 petitions.
• Second, “exemplar” applications present feasible business projects that are not yet “shovel ready,” together with an exemplar I-526 petition, for a preliminary determination of EB-5 compliance. The “exemplar” process allows Regional Centers to seek approval of new, job-creating projects in principle before the business projects are fully developed to the point where participating investors can submit their I-526 petitions.

In these explanations, “exemplar” appears to mean an actual project that’s just not fully developed yet. This breakdown leaves no space for an RC proposal based on hypothetical scenarios or general predictions of the type of projects to receive EB-5 investment. It seems to require presenting real project(s) — the only option being whether or not you claim they’re “shovel ready.” And both “actual” and “exemplar” I-924s, as presented here, seem narrowly project-focused and to function essentially as pre-approval to the I-526 petition.

I’m very glad that USCIS is getting serious about offering a premium processing option, because unfortunately if someone calls me now with a genuinely “shovel-ready” project I can’t recommend Regional Center EB-5. With processing times as they are now, most projects that are ready to go today would be already finished or dead by the time the RC got approved and EB-5 investors had been recruited and received I-526 approval. I’ll be very excited if that whole process can be compressed from 1.5+ years to under 4 months. On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with streamlining at the expense of simplifying the I-924 into essentially a pre-I-526. What is a “Regional Center” after all? Do we want it to turn into a narrow umbrella for one particular immediate project? Do we want to send RC applicants who have a variety of potential projects at various stages of development to the back of the line while selecting for one-hit wonders? That’s the vision that seems to be emerging.

About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Lucid Professional Writing provides writing and editing services for businesses and scholars, and specializes in assisting clients to prepare business plans for filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

One Response to Is I-924 the new I-526? And what does “exemplar” mean?

  1. Pingback: “On hold at USCIS headquarters” « EB-5 Updates

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