Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

USCIS Message: EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audits

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announces the launch of an EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audit Program.  Regional center compliance audits are an additional way to enhance program integrity and verify information in regional center applications and annual certifications. These audits will verify compliance with applicable laws and authorities to ensure continued eligibility for the regional center designation.
For example, the audit team:
  • Reviews applications, certifications, associated records, and information on the regional center;
  • Verifies supporting documents, submitted with the application(s) and in the annual certification(s);
  • Conducts site inspections; and
  • Interviews personnel to confirm the information provided with the application(s) and annual certification(s).
You can read additional details on the program on our Regional Center Compliance Audit page.  Read more about the EB-5 program online at uscis.gov/EB-5.

Sincerely,

USCIS Public Engagement

USCIS Message: EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audits

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announces the launch of an EB-5 Regional Center Compliance Audit Program.  Regional center compliance audits are an additional way to enhance program integrity and verify information in regional center applications and annual certifications. These audits will verify compliance with applicable laws and authorities to ensure continued eligibility for the regional center designation.
For example, the audit team:
  • Reviews applications, certifications, associated records, and information on the regional center;
  • Verifies supporting documents, submitted with the application(s) and in the annual certification(s);
  • Conducts site inspections; and
  • Interviews personnel to confirm the information provided with the application(s) and annual certification(s).
You can read additional details on the program on our Regional Center Compliance Audit page.  Read more about the EB-5 program online at uscis.gov/EB-5.

Sincerely,

USCIS Public Engagement

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why kill the EB-5 Program?

Sens. Diane Feinstein and Chuck Grassley may have their reasons, but why kill a job-creation program that works most of the time. Sure, there are some bad actors in the mix, but law enforcement agencies are rooting them out.
EB-5 creates jobs, and that is something we need as a nation.
I oppose S. 232 for the reasons stated above.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sub-minimum investment amount needed for rural areas

Sens. Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy have proposed increasing the EB-5 Program minimum investment amounts to $800,000 (EB-5 projects in TEAs or rural areas) and $1.2 million elsewhere. DHS has proposed increasing these amounts even more to take into account inflation.
Most of the EB-5 investment capital, thus far -- some say as much as 90 percent -- has gone to huge real estate projects in so-called "gateway cities" in California, Florida, and New York. This leaves regional centers and EB-5 projects in rural areas out of the picture.
My regional center -- America's Center for Foreign Investment -- is a southeastern United States regional center. Most of ACFI's EB-5 projects are in rural areas. Trying to find investors for ACFI's projects -- although in growing industries -- is extremely difficult.
ACFI pursues industries I think are likely to be successful.  My regional center is active in affiliating independent- and assisted-living investment projects as well as manufacturers of modular homes and buildings made from hardened materials, such as steel and hardy plank, which resist hurricanes, tornadoes, fire and earthquakes.  These structures are ideal for the Gulf Coast and for tornado-prone areas of the United States.
ACFI would be delighted to entertain other manufacturing projects in rural areas of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee (which is ACFI’s geographic area), but the EB-5 investment capital will not arrive because of the preponderance of EB-5 investment capital going to huge real estate projects in the gateway cities in California, Florida and New York.
To address this issue, I propose a minimum investment amount of $650,000 in rural areas, whether or not the location of the EB-5 project is within or outside a Combined Statistical Area or Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA).  My rational for the former is that we have many cows and cow pastures in Montgomery County, where a manufacturing plant might be located, but the cow pastures are in an SMSA, so the current lower investment amount of $500,000 is not applicable unless the EB-5 project is within an area of high unemployment, defined as 150 percent of the national average (which fluctuates, of course).  The Office of Management and Budget has repeatedly written to Congress that SMSA’s are created for “statistical purposes only” and were not meant to enable a particular federal program to operate within or outside an SMSA
I feel confident that this lower minimum investment amount of $650,000, exclusively for rural areas, would substantially benefit manufacturing and agricultural industries in the southeastern United States, and create many more good jobs for U.S. workers and others within ACFI’s geographic area than the huge real estate projects in gateway cities.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Safe harbor: About fairness

As more EB-5 regional centers and projects fail, and as more fraud is uncovered, I reiterate my long-held notion that the EB-5 Program calls for a "safe harbor" for investors.  Consider this:
EB-5 investors have done everything the U.S. government has asked them to do.  They have placed their capital "at risk" in an EB-5 investment project for the purpose of creation of jobs and have filed an I-526 petition with USCIS.
But what if the EB-5 investment project fails?  What if the regional center fails?  What if someone runs off to the Cayman Islands with investors' money?  What if no jobs -- or not enough jobs -- for U.S. workers are created?  What if the investors cannot prove their entire $500,000 was invested "at risk" in the EB-5 project because no accounting records exist?  Most EB-5 investments use limited partnership, which means EB-5 investors have little or no control of the investment project.
A "safe harbor" would protect investors from deportion or removal, a harsh and unfair result currently of not proving the removal of the two "conditions" (1) that the full $500,000 was invested in the EB-5 investment project, and (2) that the project created 10 new jobs for U.S. workers.  In the case of a regional center project, indirect and induced jobs may be counted as well.
But now, when investors are unable to prove that the two conditions were met, USCIS places the investors and their family members in deportation (or removal) proceedings.  A very unfair thing to do to foreign investors who invested the money.
I urge Congress to pass a safe harbor provision to make the EB-5 Program fair and just for foreign investors.