13 Nov Update on the USCIS EB-5 Stakeholder Meeting in New York
Washington, D.C., November 13, 2017 – U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) held a public meeting with stakeholders in the EB-5 industry in New York City on November 7, 2017. The Stakeholders Meeting provided very helpful information regarding EB-5 visa process and USCIS analysis of EB-5 projects.
In relation to EB-5 visa process, USCIS indicated that it has managed to work through the large number of I-526 visa petitions and I-924 applications filed in December 2015. USCIS acknowledged that the amount of work involved caused slower processing of EB-5 visas, both in the I-526 process and the I-829 process. USCIS indicated that it expected visa processing to move slightly faster in the coming months as more officers are able to process cases. In previous EB-5 stakeholder engagements in 2017, USCIS indicated that it expected the processing of I-829 petitions to take less time in the future because it is also hiring new personnel to work on this visa process. At present, the average processing time for an I-829 visa petition is approximately 24 months.
In relation to USCIS analysis of EB-5 projects, USCIS indicated that it was seeking to create more policies relating to the use of temporary loans for initiating construction of a project (referred to as “bridge financing”). Such new policies are likely to better coordinate the injection of EB-5 capital with a project’s construction, with the goal of avoiding the use of EB-5 funds for projects that are finished construction.
In Washington, D.C., there have not been new public developments regarding the negotiations in the Senate to revise and extend the EB-5 Regional Center program. At present, we expect the EB-5 Regional Center program to be temporarily extended as negotiations continue, possibly through until March or April 2018. Separately, we received news that Congressman Goodlatte, who is presently the Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives (lower house in the federal Congress), will not be seeking re-election after his term in office ends in November 2018. Congressman Goodlatte had been involved in past negotiations for reforming an extending the EB-5 Regional Center Program. His positions have been at times controversial. He will therefore no longer be in office after November 2018. We are not yet aware which Congressman will replace Congressman Goodlatte as Chair of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives.
Finally, USCIS has indicated that it has not changed its intention to implement new EB-5 Regulations in April 2018.
I.A. Donoso & Associates, LLC, is a law firm based in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a leading immigration law firm with renowned expertise in the EB-5 program.