Limiting the RC geographic area
November 1, 2011 2 Comments
2016 Update: This post no longer applies. Since 2013 USCIS has regularly approved Regional Centers with expansive, multi-state geographic areas. The economic impact report filed with Form I-924 must still justify the area requested, but USCIS is liberal in the justifications it will accept. The AAO decision Matter of R-T-E-R-C-, LLC (JUL152016_01K1610) discusses current requirements and the economic impact analysis used by one applicant to apply for all of Texas and part of New Mexico based on seven hypothetical projects.
Until recently, I saw Regional Center proposals and amendments approved with geographic areas much larger than the impact area of the initial projects specified in the application. But apparently those days are over.
I previously pointed out that Slide 35 of the 9/15/2011 EB-5 Stakeholder meeting seemed to indicate a new restrictiveness regarding Regional Center geographic area:
–A Regional Center must demonstrate in the Form I-924 that its activities will focus on the requested geographic region, and not simply on isolated and unrelated areas within the region
–It may be more appropriate for the Regional Center to initially request a geographic area that is in keeping with the economic impacts of the existing project, and then subsequently file an amendment request for an expanded geographic area as the details and location of future projects become known
Now I’m seeing RFEs that not only suggest but seem to require that Regional Centers must initially request only the geographic area that’s in keeping with the economic impacts of their existing projects. For example, see this text from a recent RC application RFE:
The proposal does not include data, analysis, and narrative discussing the economic growth for the requested geographic area of ___ contiguous counties of ___, ___, ___,etc. … [The applicant] may wish to narrow its requested geographic scope if the impacts of the anticipated capital investment projects will not realistically impact all counties listed in the geographic area.
2012 Update: I-924 RFEs have become more insistent on the issue of justifying geographic area. See for example this section of an RFE issued in July 2012:
Pay attention everyone out there preparing to file an I-924 form! The form and instructions only say you need to provide a map delineating the desired geographic area, but note that USCIS is actually looking for more, including “data, analysis, and narrative discussing the economic growth for the requested geographic area” plus capital investment projects that will realistically impact all the counties for which you wish to apply. Before my clients only needed to pay me for business plans covering each industry; now apparently I need to write up enough projects to ensure that we reasonably cover all desired counties/areas as well.
I’m not sure how I feel about these more specific guidelines. Obviously applicants with one little project who apply for a whole-state Regional Center just because they can are not in the spirit of the EB-5 program, which is designed to concentrate investment in limited geographic areas. But Congress probably didn’t intend either that USCIS treat Regional Centers as synonymous with immediate individual projects. By saying that an RC geographic area can only be as big as the impact of the RC’s initial project, the service seems to assume that the RC is just established and approved for that one project, not mandated for on-going business including facilitating subsequent investments in a variety of projects in a wider contiguous area. Does USCIS want to make the I-924 form basically just a pre-approval I-526 with indirect job creation, and discourage the RC from going beyond the scope of its initial project?