The EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program was established in the United States in 1994 and enables foreign investors to obtain a U.S. visa by investing in a business that will stimulate the U.S. economy and ultimately creates jobs. Since 2015, program extensions have been linked to the funding of the federal government. Every short-term extension the EB-5 program experienced, has been due to interruption in federal government funding, not lack of initiative for the EB-5 Regional Center Program. On December 22nd, 2018, the federal government entered a shutdown in response to the federal government being unable to decide upon a budget for the current fiscal year.
During previous shutdowns, employees have continued to work, and this shutdown is proving no different. Despite the shutdown, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that it will continue operations during the shutdown due to the fact that it is a self-funded agency in which revenue is derived from filing fees paid by immigrant investor applicants.
That means notwithstanding the shutdown, “USCIS will continue to receive and process regional center-affiliated I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust status after the close of business on December 22, 2018,” explained Ignacio Donoso, expert EB-5 & immigration attorney. Further, investors are advised to continue to file timely responses for USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID) and to continue to prepare and file I-829 petitions. The entire statement from USCIS can be viewed here, on the USCIS official site.
Currently, there are only two changes for investors participating in the EB-5 regional center program. The first is the State Department’s discontinuation of new immigrant visa interviews until the government shutdown is over and resumes. That being said, if an investor has a previously scheduled interview that falls during the shutdown and Consular representatives have not canceled, the investor and required family should still attend these previously scheduled interviews.
The second is that investors participating in the program will be unable to file a new adjustment of status application (based on I-526 petitions) until the shutdown ceases. Outside of these two changes, investors can and should proceed to file renewals of employment authorization and advance parole and should maintain communication with and continue to respond to USCIS’s RFE’s relating to adjustment of status (I-485) applications. New applicants can prepare the necessary paperwork and apply for the EB-5 regional center program, however, these applications will be put on hold and will not be adjudicated until the shutdown is resolved.
“Government shutdowns can illicit thoughts of concern and we want to ensure that we are guiding our investors with accurate facts every step of the way,” said Nichols A. Mastroianni III, President of U.S. Immigration Fund (USIF). “We are here to answer questions and provide precise knowledge, and we will continue to provide this information as the shutdown persists.”
Fortunately, since fee-funded activities are essentially unaffected, meaning USCIS and immigration programs remain open despite minor process changes. Until the regional center program receives permanent authorization and lives stably outside of the current omnibus, the program will no longer fall vulnerable to funding disputes unrelated to the program.
U.S. Immigration Fund provides outstanding EB-5 project opportunities backed by 30+ years of collective real-estate development, financing and banking experience. USIF has formed and sponsored highly successful regional centers throughout the United States, jointly assisting nearly 6,000 EB-5 investors and their families to date. USIF will continue to follow this story closely and provide updates.