Monday, January 22, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

If a federal government shutdown comes ...

The regional center aspect of the EB-5 Program is not yet permanent.  It is the oldest "pilot" program in federal government.
Here is what I think U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will do if a federal government shutdown becomes a reality.
USCIS will suspend processing of I-526 petitions for EB-5 projects affiliated with a regional center.  It will commence processing if Congress extends government operations with a new continuing resolution.
In past interruptions in investor immigrant visa petition processing, USCIS has continued to process I-829 petitions already filed.
Let us hope that Congress continues to re-authorize the regional center aspect of the EB-5 Program, which is responsible for the creation of most of the good jobs for American workers.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

USCIS publishes EB-5 petition processing times

And it's not a pretty picture.  Processing times were published on October 31, 2017.

I-526 petitions are taking almost a bit less than two years to adjudicate.

I-829 petitions are taking two years and five months to adjudicate.

New regional center applications are taking exactly two years to process.

A former USCIS ombudsman once told me that it doesn't matter how high USCIS raises fees and hire more employees.  Processing times just get longer and longer.  And, in my experience, that is absolutely true.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Regional Center aspect of EB-5 Program extended to Dec. 8

When H.R. 601 was signed into law, a provision in the bill reauthorized the regional center aspect of the EB-5 Program to Dec. 8.  The new law, which contained an appropriation for Hurricane Harvey relief for the east coast of Texas, including Houston, also contained a provision to keep the government running.  Called a continuing resolution, the law enables the government to keep operating without a budget.
There is work being done in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform, which may affect a variety of visa programs, including EB-5.  Fact is, the regional center aspect of the EB-5 Program is the longest-running "pilot program" in federal government history.  Continual "reauthorization" leaves a cloud of uncertainty over this visa program, which should not be allowed to continue.
Because of an increasing number of examples of fraud in the EB-5 Program, there is a move afoot in Congress to terminate the EB-5 Program.  Some members of Congress believe that the EB-5 Program is not accomplishing the goals intended, including economic development in rural areas and areas of high unemploment in the United States. I believe that Congress may reform the EB-5 Program, but I do not think Congress will terminate it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Republican senators want to roll back Obama proposal to increase investment amounts


This feels different

Since I became involved in the EB-5 Program in 2006, the regional center part of the program has been extended five or six times.  This makes the regional center program the oldest pilot program in federal government, despite the fact that USCIS removed the word "pilot" from the name of the program. That agency cannot create a new reality for the regional center program.

Most extensions were for three years, but that has changed.  Most recently, Congress extended it (through a continuing budget resolution) from December 2016 to April 28, 2017. Then it was extended to September 30. I want to inform you that I think this time is different.

There is Sens. Grassley and Feinstein's bill to termiate the EB-5 Program altogether. There are increasing numbers of SEC fraud cases. There are more members of Congress who believe that the federal government is engaged in "selling citizenship", ignoring the program's stated goal of creating U.S. worker jobs.

So this time it feels different. I don't want anyone to panic, but I do think I will devote extra effort to close the open EB-5 projects in my regional center before September 30.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

USCIS releases EB-5 visa case processing times report

Dated March 31, 2017, USCIS released processing times for EB-5 visa related petitions today (May 23). The news is bleak and reflects slower processing even as the agency hires new employees and trains them. The Immigrant Investor Program Office has provided no comment on the slow pace of EB-5 petition processing. The report is below:

I-526 petitions for alien entrepreneurs are being processed as of Sept. 20, 2015

I-829 petitions for alien entrepreneurs to remove conditions are being processed as of Oct. 12, 2014

I-924 applications for regional center designation are being processed as of Sept. 16, 2015

I was once told by a former employee of the Ombudsman's Office at the Department of Homeland Security that visa case processing (no matter which visa program one specifies) slows as more employees are hired and trained for that visa program.  That sounds counter-intuitive, but it is true.