Recapping the Recent USCIS EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting

Summary

On April 25, 2016, USCIS held a unique EB-5 Stakeholder listening session, where voices from all around the EB-5 world shared suggestions with USCIS on a variety of topics from TEAs to minimum investment amounts. The listening session showcased IPO’s commitment to incorporating industry feedback for reforming the EB-5 program in a positive and meaningful way.

April 26, 2016


USCIS's recent EB-5 Stakeholder meeting was indeed a listening session — a venue for stakeholder opinions and not for tips and answers from USCIS. In case you’re a lawmaker or regulator and interested in reviewing insightful comments from the public, here is the original recording. For the rest of us, who are mainly just curious about what USCIS has to say, here are a few tidbits that came out in the meeting:

  • USCIS will be initiating an IDEA community campaign to collect additional input on EB-5 regulation/policy changes.
  • I-829 interviews will begin this year, at first virtually, and interviewees may bring counsel, Regional Center representatives, and Regional Center counsel.
  • An audit program for regional centers is being implemented this year, and site visits are being expanded for direct and regional center projects.
  • IPO currently has 126 staff and on track to have 171 employees by year end.
  • IPO did not give any hints about the anticipated content of or timeline for revised regulations or new policy.
  • IPO will work closely with Congress up to the next deadline for regional center program reauthorization (September 30, 2016), and just in case will prepare “what if” guidance for two sunset scenarios: if the Regional Center program lapses but Congress apparently intends to reauthorize it, or if Congress indicates its desire to end the program.
  • IPO Chief Nicolas Colucci reported some preliminary processing data. Q2 2016 receipts: 849 (I-526), 886 (I-829), 40 (I-924). Completions from October 2015 to March 2016 (Q1-Q2 2016): 4,141 (I-526), 1,255 (I-829), 135 (I-924). The big story in these numbers is I-526 receipts, as illustrated in the following figure.

A sense of urgency amidst investors as the program's sunset date approached caused the number of applications to skyrocket in late 2015. As the urgency subsided, so too did the rush to submit applications. Combined with the impact of Chinese New Year, 2016 Q2 saw less than 15% of the volume of applications from the two previous periods. With another sunset date fast approaching, it should be interesting to see if I-526 application volume, like the tide, rises once more as the sun sets.

Although it was not mentioned in the USCIS listening session, IPO Deputy Chief Julia Harrison alluded to the following points at the Washington, DC IIUSA conference on April 21, 2016:

  • IPO is currently revising 526, 829, 924, and 924A petition forms.
  • IPO recently fully staffed a team designated to reviewing and revising policies, and intends to cause program reform in lieu of Congress action.
  • In the future, there will be a handbook or manual that more clearly expresses the regulations governing eb5. The first edition of this handbook will likely be published by the end of the year.

Source - Lucidtext Blog