9/10 EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting

In case you missed yesterday’s EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting with USCIS, here is a link to my recording. IPO Chief Nicolas Colucci provided program updates while new hires handled a question and answer session.

From the program updates we learned that the IPO (Investor Program Office in Washington DC) is still in hiring and training mode, with 83 staff as of now and an on-going goal to reach 110 by December 31. Most new hires have been adjudicators. IPO has been handling all I-526 and I-924, and I-829 will start transitioning from the CSC to IPO as of the end of this month. The IPO is also about to move to a new facility in DC, so be aware of current addresses. Revisions to the EB-5 regulations are still in progress, with IPO about to solicit more input from an interagency symposium with federal partners. IPO has selected the Department of Commerce to create a study on the economic impact of EB-5, due out next summer. Once again, we are promised an annual report in December with program related info, statistics, and a macro view of Regional Center activity.

Most significantly, we learned that USCIS has sent Notices of Intent To Terminate to 53 Regional Centers this year! Of these, 29 were sent to Regional Centers that failed to file I-924a in 2013, and 24 were issued recently for other reasons. A Regional Center receiving such a notice has opportunity to respond and try to address any defaults, so we aren’t necessarily about to see a flood of terminations. But it’s good to know that USCIS is serious about monitoring the on-going performance of Regional Centers, and challenging those that are “no longer serving the purpose of promoting economic growth.” With this in mind, Regional Centers should take care about filing the I-924a for 2014. Be sure to file it on time (before 12/29 this year) and to fill out the form completely. Mr. Colucci noted that RCs may attach a letter to the form to provide additional facts. (And you should definitely take that opportunity, if your RC’s activities in 2014 didn’t translate into numbers that look good on the form.)

From the Q&A period we learned that new permanent deputy chief Julia Harrison is very sharp, with the will and ability to provide informed, substantive, and helpful responses (as possible under the circumstances), while new division chiefs Lori Melton and John Lyons were and sounded sensible, respectively. It was confirmed that RC adjudications for a single project are still generally being grouped, which can be an exception to the general FIFO policy on I-526 processing. I expect that the most talked-over moments in this call will be Julia’s statement on potential impacts of China retrogression and the conditional acceptability of holdback escrows (starting about minute 15) and Martin Lawler’s question about guarantees between the NCE and JCE (1 hr and 14 minutes into the call). The Q&A includes a few other points of procedural interest to immigration lawyers, who composed the bulk of the callers, and you may review my recording for details, or go to other blogs for summaries (e.g. Robert Divine on the IIUSA Blog, EB5 Insights, Mona Shah Law). Generally, the message I got is that USCIS is looking to the 5/30 Policy Memo to provide guidance about what does and doesn’t work for EB-5, so the community may as well do the same.

UPDATE: USCIS has also posted an Executive Summary and Questions and Answers from the last regular EB-5 Stakeholder meeting on 2/26/2014.

About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing. Contact me at suzanne@lucidtext.com (626) 660-4030.

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