White House Report, SEC Oil&Gas, I-829

EB-5 Program Changes To Be Initiated by USCIS and DOS
The White House released a report Modernizing & Streamlining our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century (July 2015) that summarizes recommendations from various agencies for how to streamline and modernize the immigration system, as directed in the President’s executive actions of November 2014. “The recommendations in this report reflect actions that agencies will take to modernize our system for efficiency and applicant accessibility, streamline legal immigration avenues, and strengthen our humanitarian system.” The lack of buzz around this report makes me think that the public doesn’t expect the recommendations to turn into action any time soon, but nevertheless keep in mind two recommendations that reflect commitments by USCIS and the Department of State to make changes that affect the EB-5 program:

Recommendation 1: Update standards for the EB-5 Program. By enhancing program integrity and updating eligibility requirements, this program can better serve our nation. DHS intends to pursue rulemaking to achieve those goals, including by requiring conflict-of-interest disclosures by Regional Center principals, enhancing background checks and public disclosure requirements, and increasing the minimum qualifying level of investment. DHS will also take steps to improve the adjudication and approval of Regional Center applications.
Recommendation 2: Clarify options for potential EB-5 investors to obtain visitor visas. State will amend its guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual to clarify that potential EB-5 investors can obtain visitor visas to examine or monitor potential qualifying investments if they otherwise qualify for the visitor visa.

SEC Charges Oil Company and CEO
SEC Charges Oil Company and CEO in Scheme Targeting Chinese-Americans and EB-5 Investors, reads the SEC’s press release. The SEC charged a Bay Area oil and gas company and its CEO with running a $68 million Ponzi-like scheme and affinity fraud that targeted the Chinese-American community in California and investors in Asia, including some solicited as part of the EB-5 Program. The scheme was conducted primarily outside the EB-5 program (EB-5 investor funds accounted for a just $8 million of the $68 million involved), and it’s hardly surprising when a new company promising 20-30% returns for oil and gas exploration gets charged with fraud, but the case is still interesting from an EB-5 perspective because it involves technical selling and registration issues. Seyfarth Shaw LLP has a good article on this topic: SEC charges EB-5 fund operators and finders. As the article points out: “The SEC’s actions against various participants in EB-5 transactions make it clear that, whether or not an offering involves alleged fraud, offerors of EB-5 project securities and other persons participating in the promotion of such projects must be careful to comply with all aspects of the applicable securities laws, including either registering or securing exemptions for the offering of the securities and complying with the broker-dealer and investment adviser rules.”

New Form I-829
People preparing to file the Form I-829 should keep in mind that USCIS has posted a new version with significant updates that particularly affect Regional Center investors. An EB-5 Insights blog post summarizes the changes.

TEAs and Multipliers
The July 2015 Regional Center Business Journal includes some very good articles. I particularly appreciated two articles discussing the logic of TEAs and Scott Barnhart’s aptly titled article “Economic Multipliers in the EB-5 Arena: Voodoo Economics or Sound Economic Practice?”

I-526 Backlog
The CIS Ombudsman’s 2015 Annual Report to Congress, has a section on the EB-5 program, including this sobering chart.
I526volume

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.

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