USCIS Stakeholder Meeting Held on the EB-5 Program
As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is considering potential EB-5 regulatory and policy changes, on April 25th it conducted an EB-5 stakeholder hearing. The listening session was hosted to receive some feedback from stakeholders and the main topics discussed during the hearing included:
Minimum investment amounts (whether the amounts of $500,000 and $1,000,000 should be increased in September 30, 2016);
The Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designation process;
The regional center designation process including exemplar process and the designation of the geographic scope of a regional center; and
Indirect job creation methodologies;
Stakeholders raised a number of concerns, which included:
Need for regulations to create procedural structure with respect to site visits and interviews;
Need for clarity and predictability with petition processing;
Concern about the 21,000 petitions that are currently pending and whether USCIS has formulated a policy for those cases; and
Suggestion to move the exemplar process down to a shorter cycle.
During the session Mr. Nicholas Colucci, Director of the Investor Program Office (IPO), provided data on the office’s staffing as well as preliminary processing data.
The IPO Chief announced that the office consists of 126 staff members now and there will be up to 171 employees by the end of the year. He also advised that EB-5 office is making progress in hiring specialists, and economists to improve the efficiencies of the office.
Mr. Colucci provided the following preliminary processing data.
Number of receipts for the second quarter of the FY 2016:
- 849 (Form I-526)
- 886 (Form I-829)
- 40 (Form I-924)
Number of receipts for the first quarter of the FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 – March 31, 2016):
- 1,141 (I-526)
- 1,255 (I-829)
- 135 (I-924)
Mr. Colucci reported that they will begin conducting I-829 interviews this year, first virtually, then with regional center representatives and counselors.
He also advised that some regional centers would be audited this year, and site visits would be expanded for direct and regional center projects.
The Investor Program Office will work together with Congress until the next deadline (September 30, 2016) for regional center reauthorization.