EB-5 Program Update – Few New Insights from USCIS

During this afternoon’s much-anticipated Quarterly Stakeholder Engagement, held at the California Service Center, the agency offered few (if any) insights into its views on issues of pressing concern to the EB-5 community, such as tenant occupancy-based job creation methodologies, parameters on the use of bridge financing, and indirect construction jobs. USCIS declined to address questions relating to the tenant occupancy issue, and they somewhat startlingly further indicated that Stakeholder Engagements were in general an “inappropriate forum” in which to request guidance on matters of agency policy.

While we could comment at length about what the agency did not say, it may be more constructive to offer the few tidbits of trivia that can help to round out our understanding of the current state of the program. For example:

* 2600 EB-5 visa numbers had been used as of the end of March 2012, and usage continues to increase exponentially. 800 EB-5 visa numbers have just been allocated for the month of June in Guangzhou (China) alone. China, South Korea, Taiwan, Iran and Venezuela are the highest users of the EB-5 program at this time.

* USCIS believes the case-specific email “mailboxes” that are made available to I-924 applicants are underutilized.

* A new “iteration” of the agency’s Draft Policy Memo is expected to be posted for public comment within the “next couple of weeks.” The policy memo is still considered a discussion draft and is not being followed by the agency.

* There will be individual communications forthcoming regarding extensions for responding to tenant occupancy-related RFE’s.

* There are separate case processing queues for initial Regional Center designations and Regional Center amendments (but neither case type has priority over the other).

We will be looking forward to a more substantive engagement with the USCIS economists, per the Director’s April 27th comments, and hope to have news of that event soon.

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