4/22 Stakeholder Disengagement

UPDATE: The prepared remarks of Chief Colucci and Deputy Chief Harrison have been posted on the USCIS website. Thank you USCIS!

I apologize for reminding you to call in to today’s EB-5 stakeholder “engagement.” What a waste of time. I’ve uploaded my recording as usual on the off chance that anyone wants to repeat the ordeal, and hope that my groans aren’t too audible in the background. Here is a summary of call content with time references to the recording:

  • [2:04 – 9:24] IPO Chief Nicholas Colucci gives an update on staffing levels, processing volumes, and Regional Center terminations.
  • [9:25 – 15:18] IPO Deputy Chief Julia Harrison reiterates but doesn’t explain or justify USCIS’s new stand on cash as indebtedness and loan proceeds as qualifying capital (investor source of funds issues). She acknowledges that that “there are questions” but states that “this is the way we do it now” and disinvites debate. Her statement will eventually be posted on the USCIS website, and I’ll link to that (for what it’s worth) when it’s available (and expect to eventually link to the retraction, once reason prevails).
  • [15:20 – 1:50:00] There is a Q&A with lots of Q and very few A to speak of. Many stakeholders call in bristling with questions and legal reference related to the indebtedness issue, but don’t even get the usual vague courtesy that their input has been heard with thanks and will be seriously considered. Input and questions on this topic are explicitly not welcome. Stakeholders call in begging for answers on oft-repeated questions (increasingly urgent now with the China cut-off date) regarding sustaining investment and changes between I-526 and I-829, and once again receive no response (except “wait for our ‘essentially drafted’ draft policy memo, forth-coming ‘as soon as possible,’ for comment on these questions”). Division Chief John Lyons fails to even understand questions that involve processing time implications, and scares us once again with evidence that ignorance and irrationality start from the top. Oh I’m so depressed! There may be a few real insights somewhere in the Q&A, but other bloggers will have to find them.

Apparently USCIS has learned from the investigation into former Chief Mayorkas, who tried to engage with stakeholders and hear their ideas, who pressed for transparent and consistent policy, and who was willing to be convinced with reference to law and policy and business reality that adjudicator interpretations might be wrong. And now we’re back to the bad old days. The leadership on today’s call let us know that “this venue is for us to state our positions, not for debate” and furthermore “everything that we do here is on a case by case basis.” (They may as well have said: “We can’t give general guidance because our decisions are made individually and reactively, not shaped by consistent general principles, and also we can’t lift the veil on our case-by-case decision-making because that would involve answering case-specific questions, so really why are we all here talking?”).

A few bits of actual information from the call:

  • Next meeting: USCIS will host an “interactive engagement” with its economists on June 4th. The meeting will focus on eligible costs for job creation. I will duly post the invitation when it appears, for what it’s worth.
  • Staffing: As of now IPO has 101 staff, including 53 adjudicators and 21 economists, and has a target of 121 staff by the end of the year. Director Colucci thinks this will be sufficient to help processing catch up to petition receipts.
  • Processing Times: Posted processing times apparently include times for expedited petitions, meaning that normal processing averages are longer than posted. IPO has prioritized petitions that are outside of posted processing times, and “expects to finish cleanup efforts by the end of the year.”
  • I-924a and Regional Center Terminations: In FY2013, USCIS terminated eight Regional Centers for failing to file I-924a and another seven Regional Centers for not promoting economic growth. For FY2014, USCIS issued 57 Notices of Intent to Terminate to Regional Centers that didn’t file Form I-924a for the year, is preparing additional NOIT alleging that the I-924a filing reflects failure to promote economic growth, and has terminated four Regional Centers outside of the I-924a review process (one because it dissolved, another two because they were the focus of criminal complaints, and another for misallocation of investor funds).
  • Processing Volume: From October 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, IPO processing volumes were as follows (preliminary numbers):
    I-526 – Receipts: 5,250, Processed: 4,036
    I-829 – Receipts: 1,533, Processed: 341
    I-924 – Receipts: 170, Processed: 135

About Suzanne (www.lucidtext.com)
Suzanne Lazicki is a business plan writer, EB-5 expert, and founder of Lucid Professional Writing.

One Response to 4/22 Stakeholder Disengagement

  1. Jin Yong says:

    I really think USCIS shouldn’t have any engagements anymore. Just work on adjudicating cases quickly. It will take them next 20 years to keep their promise of adjudicating I-526s within 6 months. Some of us will be dead by then, including IPO examiners. Lol

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