Visa Usage, GAO TEA Report, RC List Updates

Visa Usage
Here is a chart that visualizes how EB-5 fits into the big picture of U.S. immigration. The main chart is lifted from a New York Times article this week that discusses immigration levels. I added the box with detail on numerical limits within EB preference visas.
greencards
It’s worth gazing at this chart and considering how we feel about the allocations. The pie is unlikely to get larger: the message I hear from Washington is that no one has the political will to push for a greater total number of immigrants to the U.S. The pie  could be divided differently, if Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton gets a chance to make comprehensive immigration reform happen. EB-5 is currently limited to barely 1% of the annual total (7.1% of the EB category), and EB-5 investors get still fewer numbers since they share the allocation with family members. This wasn’t a problem for years when the program didn’t really work, but now is a shame as EB-5 is working overtime and thousands of people eager to invest in US business and bring their resources to the US are stuck in years-long waiting lines. (For sobering figures on wait times, and thoughts about how to alleviate the problem, see the slides from Symposium on EB-5 Visa Usage at the IIUSA EB-5 Industry Forum October 2016.) The employment-based category as a whole is bursting at the seams as it tries to accommodate needs from health care to Silicon Valley with only 15% of total visas, so EB-5 stakeholders aren’t the only ones agitating strongly and loudly for a better piece of the pie. As the New York Times points out, the current legal immigration system prioritizes family reunification over employment-based preferences. Mr. Trump says he wants “to choose immigrants based on merit, skill and proficiency” (so far so good for EB-5, though his idea of reducing total immigration could pull the rug from under EB-5 visa numbers), while Ms. Clinton’s immigration platform keeps the focus on families. One or the other will probably get elected next month, and we’ll wait with bated breath to see what happens next with immigration. Maybe either will solve the problem by reducing the likelihood that a million sensible people a year will even want U.S. immigrant visas. (FYI: my chart and NYT’s chart aren’t exactly in parallel, since theirs shows percentages used in a given year while mine shows numerical limits — percentages that may not match actual usage in 2014.)

GAO Report
The Government Accountability Office has another EB-5 report, this one titled Immigrant Investor Program: Proposed Project Investments in Targeted Employment Areas (September 19, 2016). The report is addressed to Senators Grassley and Leahy and Representatives Goodlatte and Conyers, and responds to their request for information on EB-5 projects in recent I-526 petitions, specifically “(1) proportion of petitioners that did or did not elect to invest in a TEA; (2) proportion of petitioners basing a high unemployment TEA on various types of geographic areas; and (3) EB-5 investment as a proportion of the total investment in petitioners’ TEA projects.” GAO answers these questions with statistics from a random sample of 200 I-526 petitions filed in FY2015 Q4. The report will interesting for people who don’t already know where most EB-5 money goes, in terms of geography and industry, and how EB-5 normally fits into a project’s capital stack. The report is a gift to journalists itching to write a headline with “gerrymandering” in the title (though it also indicates that the majority of combined-census-area TEAs are actually quite small areas, comprising fewer than 11 tracts). I’ve gathered that Grassley et. al.’s ideal EB-5 project is a business with no non-immigrant funding in a thoroughly blighted Midwestern town, and the GAO report reflects the fact that indeed few EB-5 petitioners have chosen such projects. Of course TEA incentives are only one factor in this reality. Market factors also determine the kind of project that entrepreneurs are willing to undertake and investors are willing to fund. But the GAO report will inform the talks on EB-5 legislation that need to resume before December 9.

Regional Center List Updates
Additions to the USCIS Regional Center List, 9/16/2016 to 10/03/2016:

  • Eagle EB-5 Regional Center (California)
  • McCormick Regional Center LLC (Washington)
  • NY Entrepreneurs Fund, LLC (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York)

Restored to list of approved RCs (apparently removed by mistake last week):

  • Benefield California Regional Center, LLC (California)
  • HS Regional Center, LLC (California)
  • SAA Cedisus EB-5 Projects – SW Indiana Regional Center, LLC (Indiana)
  • Western Energy Regional Center (Oklahoma)

Renamed:

  • American Islands Regional Center (former name United States Virgin Islands Regional Center) (U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI))

New Terminations:

  • Northern Illinois Regional Center (Illinois) Terminated 10/16/2016
  • Arizona Alternative Energy Center, LLC (Arizona) Terminated 10/6/2016
  • Detroit Immigrant Investor Regional Center (Michigan) Terminated 9/30/2016
  • Yellowstone Montana Regional Center, LLC (Montana) Terminated 9/28/2016

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.

8 Responses to Visa Usage, GAO TEA Report, RC List Updates

  1. And by the way, speaking of Mr. Trump and the NYT, there’s an article today that was apparently conceived as an expose of Trump hypocrisy re immigration, but ends up instead charging a couple EB-5 people with baselessly claiming Trump affiliation. This article is good reading for potential investors. Remember: the Internet, email, and the telephone are on your side, and you can do the kind of investigation that the authors did for this article. Let’s not leave any space in EB-5 for people who think their claims won’t be fact-checked.

  2. Paul Bandall says:

    Hi Suzanne – useful info as always.
    Could I just check whether you or anyone else in the process has had indications on handling/definitions of child ‘age out’?

    Filed I-526 about 13months ago when our eldest son was still under 21 however he had his 21st birthday earlier this year. Initial advice we received is that his age would be locked-in with filing of I-525 but some comments in your linked presentations are raising doubts in my mind….any ideas?
    Thanks

  3. Paul Bandall says:

    …OK, further to earlier post, I’m getting slightly confused (easy for me)..

    I looked at the State Dept Visa Bulletin for October 2016 which, in Table A (final action dates) gave U – unauthorised for Regional Centre EB-5 visas across the board.

    Looking at USCIS website suggested table A was the one to use but confusingly seemed to suggest C – current for non Chinese applicants?

    There was a link to November and now the State Dept table A gives ‘C – current’ for all except Chinese applicants which ties in with the USCIS table…. Unsure whether October was a typo or if we’re just close to limiting numbers month on month?

    I think having googled like crazy this past hour that there is real significance as alluded to in Suzannes’ link with regards to child ‘age out’ especially if close to 21 at I-526 filing.

    It would seem that CSPA protects frim age out if a priority date is ‘Current’ at I-526 approval….although others seem to suggest that whilst the age is frozen at petition filing the age runs again in chronoligical terms until consular interview (could take six months?).

    Alternatively filing an I-485 adjustment of status might stop that clock running (assuming a ‘Current’ priority date….)?

    Not really considered an I-485 before but would that entail entering the U.S. on a non-immigrant basis (B visa/ESTA etc) and then adjusting that immigration status – although unable to work in interim..? One of the earlier linked slides also refers to an interim ‘Red Card’ which permits employment…

    I think my son will have 132 days in hand at (hopeful eventual) I-526 approval so will need to reflect hard on likely Consular timescales…assuming table A continues to show ‘C – current’ post November…eek!!

    • Paul,
      I’m mind-boggled as well by all the nuances of what goes on with the Visa Bulletin and CSPA. If there’s one person who’s got it figured out it’s Bernard Wolfsdorf, and you might benefit from reading through the posts on this topic on his blog at http://connect.wolfsdorf.com/. For example http://connect.wolfsdorf.com/?p=1908 and http://connect.wolfsdorf.com/?p=2261.

      • Paul Bandall says:

        Thanks Suzanne – will do 🙂

      • Paul Bandall says:

        Further possible clarification if useful to anyone…

        It appears the reason for the across the board ‘U’ (unauthorised) entries in the October State Dept Visa Bulletin (table A) was because of the approaching bill end date…once Congress extended the bill to Dec 9th the U status automatically became C (current) for all except Chinese applicants.

        One implication of this would seem to be that if the RC bill is not extended past Dec 9th then all visa numbers will revert to U even for petitions filed whilst the bill was in force…which casts doubt on why there was a pre-sunset ‘surge’ if a lack of continuing authorisation would deny visa issue despite petition validity?

        On the subject of I-485 adjustment, it is not permitted to enter as a visitor with intent to adjust status/immigrate… There is a supposedly a point after sixty days when there is no presumption of intent however not clear on the implications of that point.

      • marigotus says:

        Paul, the surge was based on the idea that the program was going to be extended, but with increase of the investment amount from $500k to $800k. Investors (and RCs stimulated then and continues to stimulate today that idea) were trying to avoid that increase.

        So many investors are pending (around 20.000) that it would take several years to clear I526 at $500k from the system, so practically, the increase would we delayed. That is why the legislation presented by Grassley/Leahy set the change of amount retroactively, forcing investors from July 2015 (or was it June 2015?) onwards to increase their investment in $300k. The surge (submission of I526 doubled) started in July 2015 and ended on Dec 2015.

        More than 10.000 investors would be affected with this retroactive amount increase.

      • Paul Bandall says:

        Hi Marigotus – that makes sense and retrospective reform legislation would knock us out of the programme entirely. Like many of the 10,000 the $500k was a stretch and with the recent change in £/$ rate a further $300k would prove impossible.

        With the additional anxiety around ‘age out’ for our son it’s becoming increasingly fraught…

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