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April 29 2016

USCIS Stakeholder Call News and Possible Increase in Investment Amount

USCIS Stakeholder Call News

The USCIS EB-5 unit held a Stakeholder call on April 25, 2016.  It was intended to be a listening session for stakeholders to provide comments on a few areas for which USCIS is considering new regulations. However, there was some important news from the USCIS:

  • USCIS plans to issue new regulations this summer (first it must issue a notice of proposed rulemaking and allow for comment) which may:
    • Increase the investment amount to $800,000 (see below for details).
    • Change the TEA rules or provide guidance to the states. (There is pressure for USCIS to take over TEA designation from the states. Given the lengthy USCIS backlogs and the states’ quick turnaround on TEA letters, TEA designations should be kept with the states! You need to lobby for this. Can you imagine it taking 6 to 9 months just to assess whether an area is a TEA to determine whether a possible project is viable? Today, we can receive such determinations from most states within a few days or a week).
  • USCIS will start to audit some RCs.
  • New I-526, I-829, and I-924 forms are being developed.
  • USCIS will, before the end of June, start to interview some I-829 applicants for removal of conditional resident status. They will start with virtual (Skype?) interviews.  An attorney and a RC representative and its counsel may also attend the interview.
  • USCIS will start site visits of RCs as well as direct investment EB-5 businesses. I will write more about the proposed site visits in a future newsletter.

Possible Increase in Investment Amount 

The USCIS indicated on the call this week that they hope to publish new regulations this summer which will probably increase the minimum EB-5 investment amount to $800,000 and maybe change the way targeted employment areas (TEAs) are calculated.

USCIS must publish advance notice of any rule changes and allow time for public comments before finalizing a new rule. USCIS did not formally announce the regulations will increase the investment amount, but did say the call was focused on input for four topics including increasing the investment amount. USCIS said if the new regulations are published this summer, as they hope, they expect an increase in I-526 filings, as was the case last fall when it was thought that Congress would increase the investment amount. Previously, Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (“DHS”) wrote to Congress starting that if Congress does not increase the investment amount, DHS would do so.

As you know, it takes time to document EB-5 cases and many will be filing to beat the increase in the investment amount.

Have a good weekend.