10/19 EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting (call recording, I-956 and I-956G for pre-existing RCs, termination risk, sustainment)

10/25 Update: USCIS has now published EB-5 National Stakeholder Engagement Talking Points (PDF, 238.48 KB) and National Engagement EB-5 Stakeholder PowerPoint Presentation (PDF, 315.88 KB).

Today USCIS held a substantive and friendly meeting with EB-5 stakeholders. I wouldn’t exactly call it an engagement, since USCIS did not address many questions that we submitted in advance, and responded to the majority of in-person questions with “thank you for your input” and/or “please send this question to the EB-5 Customer Service Mailbox” (a notorious black hole). However, I appreciate that USCIS put all of IPO leadership on-stage to speak to us, and the level of detail shared. Division leaders spoke for nearly an hour, and I learned something. The subsequent Q&A session was short on A, but expressed more solicitude and helpful intent than we’ve heard in a long time. I sensed a litigation subtext, with about half of the content discussing Integrity Act implementation in compliance with the Behring Settlement Agreement, and the other half explaining operations challenged by and exposed in Mandamus litigation.

Besides organizational detail, which I’ll discuss further in a separate post, the teleconference included the following new and controversial input.

Treatment of Previously-Approved Regional Centers and their Investors: USCIS for the first time addressed the question of consequences if a previously-approved regional center chooses not to raise new investment under RIA, and therefore does not file a I-956 by December 29, 2022. IPO Chief Alissa Emmel stated that this (1) will not prevent the adjudication of related Form I-526 and I-829 filed before the passage of the Integrity Act, (2) may result in termination of the RC’s designation, and (3) will not be the basis for denial of the I-526 or I-829 petitions. Ms. Emmel did not address the contradictions in her statement, considering RIA provisions that make termination a potential sole basis for denying petitions. In response to a followup question, Acting Compliance Division Chief Andrew Driscoll Black indicated that a previously-approved regional center must file both I-956 and I-956G this year or be subject to termination, but then admitted that he hadn’t thought about the scenario where a previously-approved RC simply doesn’t have immediate plans to sponsor new projects, and thus no occasion to apply right away to sponsor new projects. Mr. Black advised to submit the question to the IPO customer service mailbox, with an indication that it’s time sensitive. If only USCIS had read and prepared to answer the many advance questions submitted on this urgent topic. See minute 4 and 1:12:13 of my recording.

Annual Report: Although the USCIS website I-956G instructions say that regional centers approved after May 14, 2022 may file the I-956G annual report, the Investor Program Office gave different instructions in the call. Acting Compliance Division Chief Andrew Driscoll Black stated that all regional centers approved prior to October 1, 2022 must file the I-956G annual report for 2022. Alissa Emmel admitted that USCIS has yet to publish information about how to pay the newly-required annual fee, and that USCIS will not impose late penalties on payment of 2022 fees. See minutes 7, 32, and 1:17:00 of my recording.

Sustainment Period: Paul Egan, Acting Policy Division Chief, indicated his understanding that the Integrity Act modifies the sustainment requirement for new investors who file I-526 after the Integrity Act. When pressed about this during the Q&A, Mr. Egan had already left the call and none of the other USCIS reps wanted to confirm or clarify his statement. “We’ll make sure to get a FAQ out for the public very soon.” I’m sure that many advance questions addressed this hot topic, so USCIS should’ve been ready for it. See minute 19:08 and 1:00:00 of my recording.

I’ll comment in more detail when USCIS publishes the prepared statements, as promised. In the meantime, here is a link to my recording of the 10/19 EB-5 Stakeholder Engagement, and an index to recording content. (For future reference, I’m also adding this engagement to my Meeting Log of USCIS EB-5 engagement reports going back to 2009.)

Time StartSpeakerTopic
0:22Amanda Atkinson USCIS Office of Citizenship, Partnership, and EngagementIntroduction
3:18Alissa Emmel, IPO ChiefIntroduction
4:02Alissa Emmel, IPO ChiefRIA implementation updates (Behring Settlement content, RCs that don’t file I-956 by December 29, RC fees)
8:00Alissa Emmel, IPO ChiefStaffing update (total employment level, discussion of duties and priorities, excuses for lack of resources assigned to adjudication, general statement on hiring plans)
10:22Alissa Emmel, IPO ChiefDigitization Initiative Update (current initiative to scan I-829 files, indefinite future hopes for ELIS)
12:45Karen Karas, IPO Deputy  ChiefDiscussed IPO operations and divisional responsibilities
15:36Paul Egan, Acting Policy Division ChiefEditorialized about policy change implications of the Integrity Act (including change to the sustainment period requirement) and gave a target to finalize new EB-5 regulations at the end of CY2023.
23:00Todd Young, IPO Communications and Liaison Team ChiefDiscussed IPO communications team staffing and responsibilities.
25:48Andrew Diroll-Black, Acting Division Chief for Compliance DivisionDiscussed Regional Center compliance, I-956 forms, I-956 adjudications, RC annual report requirement. Revealed that a major I-956 RFE issue on the question of who should file a I-956H.
33:55Kevin Murk, Division Chief for Form I-526 DivisionDiscussed I-526 team staffing, inventory management, workflow management, and excuses for low completion rates.
44:45Tsa Weatherl, Division Chief for Form I-829 DivisionDiscussed I-829 team staffing, workflow, excuses for low completion rates, filing tips  
52:27Amanda Atkinson moderating the Q&A sessionQuestions: 53:44 Carolyn Lee (encouragement to engage, focus specific issues); 58:53 Mona Shah (problems with I-829 extensions, and DOS not recognizing extensions); 1:00:00 Dan Lundy (what is the sustainment period post-RIA and pre-RIA?); 1:03 Rana Jazayerli (I-956 amendment filings, does it preclude also requesting expanded geography?); 1:08 David Morris (encouragement to engage, focus specific issues, suggest ANPRM); 1:12:13 Rohit Kapuria (does previously-approved RC without immediate new projects need to file both I-956 and I-956G this year?); 1:17 Jesse Rios Lone Star Regional Center (which RCs need to file I-956G?); 1:20 Joel Yanovich (problem with incorrect rejection of concurrently-filed I-485); 1:22::40 James Wolf, Golden Pacific (deference to pre-RIA examplars?); 1:25 Michele Franchett (encouragement to engage, question about application of audit exemption to fund administration requirement)

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.

10 Responses to 10/19 EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting (call recording, I-956 and I-956G for pre-existing RCs, termination risk, sustainment)

  1. John Cooper says:

    I’m sorry if this is obvious somewhere, but where can I find the actual recording if it is available? Thank you so much for your insight and help.

  2. Muhammad Mahmood says:

    Thank you so much for your kind and sincere efforts to bring the whole report of the meeting. It was an excellent effort from you to put the audio recording of the meeting. I was hoping to hear more about I829 but could not materialze.
    Thanks again for your efforts.

    • UN says:

      Nothing much on processing time, but if they have approx 11500 applications pending and have 40 people working on I-829 alone, and even if each one works on just 2 applications a day, they can complete 40x2x5= 400 applications in a week, and 1600 approx a month! They can clear all pending applications in a max of 8 months…if they want to!

  3. Jaimin says:

    Sharing an information.

    My son’s EB5 visa has been approved today from Mumbai Consulate. His I526 was filed on 29.10.2018. (RC Filing)

    It was a long wait, elongated specially due to COVID disruption as well as industry/politicians standoff. The delay has indeed affected his future plan gravely, but he is hopeful of picking up the pieces.

    Thanks Suzanne for being the torchbearer and providing invaluable information throughout this period. You are a prime example and motivator for anybody who wish to provide selfless service to the community at large.

    Thanks other forum members as well, who were/are also active in disseminating useful information and links to fellow members.

    Regards,

    Jaimin.

  4. tj says:

    Filed in Oct 2019 and still seeing Case Was Received. Would like to know what is the latest approved date for I526 for Indian nationals.

  5. Tunde says:

    Hello,
    I applied in September 2021 from Nigeria, which is not a backlog country. Please, can anyone advise how soon my case could be checked on?

  6. Jimmy Vanjani says:

    Filed in Oct 2018 and still waiting, from Taiwan which is not a backlog country

  7. Kali says:

    Hi Suzanne
    My EB-5 application is approved in October 2022( filed in December 2018 , India) but haven’t received any welcome letter till now . What’s the timeline for welcome letter and so on .

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