EB-5 Immigrant Investor Update: New Office; Stats, Summary Released
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced formation of a new EB-5 program office. Also, USCIS released the latest third-quarter statistics on its stakeholder call in late July, and released a summary of questions and answers from the previous stakeholder meeting in May. USCIS also announced that it plans to release a new version of its draft EB-5 policy memo soon. Highlights of the latest developments are included below.
New EB-5 program office. On July 18, 2012, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced (PDF) the creation of a new office to oversee administration of the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. The office will be led by a new Chief of Immigrant Investor Programs. The position opening was announced the same day.
Director Mayorkas noted that the EB-5 program “has spurred the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs and the injection of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy since Congress created the program in 1990.” Interest in the EB-5 program has grown exponentially in recent years, he noted, both from domestic project developers seeking capital and foreign investors who have the capital that can fuel economic growth.
In fiscal year (FY) 2012 to date, USCIS approved more than 3,100 Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) petitions. Director Mayorkas said this was more than triple the number approved in all of FY 2009. “Since 2009, we have quadrupled the size of the EB-5 adjudications team and brought on board eight expert economists dedicated to the EB-5 program to ensure that EB-5 cases are handled expeditiously and with appropriate expertise.”
By the end of July, a Review Board consisting of two Supervisory Immigration Services Officers and one economist “will review every pending application for regional center designation for which a denial has been recommended, with applicants receiving the opportunity to discuss their cases in-person before any final adverse decision is rendered,” Director Mayorkas said.
Third-quarter statistics. USCIS said it has approved over 3,100 I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) petitions so far this year, and that the number of I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) filings has decreased. USCIS expects to see more filed in the fourth quarter.
According to the latest EB-5 program statistics based on preliminary data for the third quarter of FY 2012, USCIS received 4,156 I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) petitions and had approved 3,002 and denied 775 so far. This was a 79 percent approval rating, compared to an 81 percent approval rating for all of FY 2011 and an 89 percent approval rating for all of FY 2010. As of the third quarter of FY 2012, USCIS had received 546 I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) petitions and had approved 639 and denied 42 so far. This was a 94 percent approval rating, nearly matching a 96 percent approval rating for all of FY 2011 and exceeding an 83 percent approval rating for FY 2010.
USCIS approved 209 regional centers as of the third quarter. The full list of RCs by state is available at http://www.uscis.gov/eb-5centers/.
The next USCIS stakeholder engagement meeting is scheduled for October 16, 2012, in Washington, DC.
Summary of May stakeholder meeting. After USCIS’s EB-5 stakeholders meeting (PDF) held on May 1, 2012, attendees lamented that the agency provided little substantive information and did not answer many submitted questions. Over 250 people attended in person, and over 300 listened by phone. USCIS subsequently released a summary of the meeting that provided additional information, presumably based on written questions that were submitted to the agency.