USCIS Proposed Enhancements to EB-5 Visa Processing

August 4, 2011

Created by Congress in 1990, the EB-5 investor program stimulates the U.S. economy through foreign capital investment that results in job creation, formation of startup companies and attracting capital to the areas of high unemployment and rural areas. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), as of June 30, 2011, it is estimated that the program has resulted in more than $1.5 billion in capital investments and created at least 34,000 jobs.

“Current immigration laws support foreign talent who will invest their capital, create new jobs for American workers, and dedicate their exceptional talent to the growth of our nation’s economy,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, “USCIS is dedicated to ensuring that the potential of our immigration laws is fully realized, and the initiatives we announce today are an important step forward.”

The EB-5 immigrant investor program is being further enhanced by transforming the intake and review process. In May, USCIS proposed fundamental enhancements to streamline the EB-5 process which included the following:

–  USCIS proposed to accelerate its processing of applications for job-creating projects that are fully developed and ready to be implemented. USCIS will give certain EB-5 applicants and petitioners the option to request Premium Processing Service.

–  USCIS proposed the creation of new specialized intake teams with expertise in economic analysis and the EB-5 Program requirements. EB-5 Regional Center applicants will able to communicate directly with the specialized intake teams via e-mail to streamline the resolution of issues and quickly address questions or needs related to their applications.

–  USCIS proposed to convene an expert Decision Board to render decisions regarding EB-5 Regional Center applications. The Decision Board will be composed of an economist and adjudicators and will be supported by legal counsel.

After reviewing stakeholder feedback on the proposal, USCIS is developing a phased plan to roll out these enhancements and is poised to begin implementing the first of these enhancements within 30 days.

Expect more details in the near future on availability of premium processing for certain EB-5 applications and petitions, implementing direct lines of communication between the applicants and USCIS, and providing applicants with the opportunity for an interview before a USCIS panel of experts.

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