4/13 Hearing, 2016 AAO Decisions (NCE requirement), RC List Changes

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Rescheduled 4/13
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s provocatively titled hearing on The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse has been rescheduled for Wednesday April 13th.  The hearing will be streamed live at the above link.

AAO Decisions: Regional Center NCE, Jobs Allocation, At Risk Requirement
Several 2016 AAO decisions on I-526 cases have been posted on the USCIS website. I’m particularly interested in MAR252016_02B7203 (and the nearly identical _03 and _04), which deal with a regional center investment. Here’s what I’m particularly surprised or intrigued to hear AAO saying in the MAR252015 cases:

  • In the Regional Center context, the job-creating entity’s history and creation date are not relevant to the question of whether EB-5’s “new” commercial enterprise requirement has been met. When the regional center investment involves a new commercial enterprise and a separate job-creating enterprise, only the NCE has to qualify as “new.” In making this point, AAO argues against a position commonly taken by USCIS. In the MAR252016 case, the petitioner invested in a limited partnership formed in 2013 that deployed capital in a hospital established in the 1960s. In its denial, USCIS predictably cited Matter of Soffici and indicated that the NCE requirement wouldn’t be met unless the hospital were restructured or substantially expanded. (Soffici deals with a new enterprise’s purchase of an old hotel and says “It is the job creating business that must be examined in determining whether a new commercial enterprise has been created”.) AAO countered that: “We disagree with the Chief’s analysis. Soffici, unlike this case, did not involve a regional center project.” AAO argues that the relevant precedent is rather Matter of Izummi, which did deal with a regional center case, and “In Izummi, when determining what constituted a ‘new commercial enterprise’, we reviewed the date of creation of the entity in which a petitioner had invested or intended to invest, not the job creating entity where the funds were ultimately to be deployed.”
  • A petitioner can’t get credit for any jobs created by the project if the project didn’t create enough jobs for all EB-5 investors in the project (unless there is an agreement among all investors about how jobs will be allocated). In the MAR252016 case, AAO wouldn’t consider whether any of the 61 new jobs finally claimed could be credited to the petitioner, since there were 11 other EB-5 investors in the project and no job allocation agreement on file. This is not new policy, but an important reminder. Make and file a job allocation agreement, just in case!
  • An EB-5 investment does not meet the “at risk” requirement if the business plan does not “present a comprehensive analysis of the potential net profit available for distribution to each of the limited partners” and therefore fails to “sufficiently establish that there is a reasonable chance for gain, especially in the foreseeable future.” This is not technically a new point (the full “at risk” requirement is “at risk for the purpose of generating a return on the capital placed at risk”), but I haven’t seen AAO/USCIS focus on insufficient profit analysis as a basis for denial.

I’ll let you read the MAR252016 decisions for yourself to get the rest of the story. The case also involves the hot issues of troubled business qualification and the separation of ownership, management, and employment among multiple entities, and AAO doesn’t raise all the questions or reach all the conclusions I would’ve expected. What AAO doesn’t say in this case may be as significant as the points that are made. To assist in following the case, I’ve done my best to illustrate the fact pattern (reading around redactions, so mistakes are possible).
Fig-1UPDATE: You can read more about this case in a civil suit filed by the petitioners. (Update: the petitioners won the suit.)

AAO Decisions: Search Function
The Administrative Appeals Office has launched a search tool for most non-precedent decisions since 2005. Just enter a search term in the box under “AAO Non-Precedent Decision Repository” and poof – links to all AAO decisions where that term is mentioned, with sorting options. I love it. (And now regret that weekend spent downloading EB-5 decisions one by one to make my own searchable master file.)

Regional Center List Changes
Additions to the USCIS Regional Center List, 03/21/2016 to 04/05/2016

Terminations

  • Path America KingCo, LLC (Washington), Terminated 3/23/2016
  • MCIG Regional Center (Florida) Terminated 3/29/2016
  • Velocity Regional Center (California), Terminated 3/24/2016

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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