A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

USCIS announces new EB-5 Program Office

By Paul Szeto, Esq.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced recently that it will create a new office to oversee the administration of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor
program.  The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, also known as the investment visa program or job-creation program, requires that a foreign national to invest a million U.S. dollars ($500,000 for investment in targeted employment areas) of capital for the creation of at least ten full time jobs for U.S. workers.  In return, the investor and his/her family will be granted permanent resident status (green cards) to work and live in the U.S. permanently.

According to the USCIS, the EB-5 program has facilitated the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs and the injection of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy since its inception in 1990.  Interest in the program has also grown substantially from both foreign investors and domestic business projects seeking capital investment.  For examples, for 2012 to date, USCIS has approved more than 3,100 Form I-526 petitions, more than triple the number approved in all of Fiscal Year 2009.  Also, since 2009, the USCIS has also quadrupled the size of the EB-5 adjudications team and hired eight expert economists dedicated to the EB-5 program to ensure that EB-5 cases are handled expeditiously and with appropriate expertise.  In the next month, the agency will hire two full-time attorneys with substantial transactional experience to the USCIS EB-5 program team.  Finally, for regional center applications (specific investment centers) that have been recommended for denial, USCIS will also create a special Review Board consisting of two Supervisory Immigration Services Officers and one economist to review them to allow applicants opportunities to discuss their cases in-person before any final denial is issued.  

Because of the rapid growth of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program, USCIS is creating a dedicated program office to make sure that sufficient resources are devoted to administer the program.  The goal is to manage the complex issues of the program under a single leadership, and the USCIS is recruiting a new Chief of Immigrant Investor Programs to lead this new office.  According to the USCIS, the new program chief should have significant experience in the business world and will assume responsibility for ensuring that the program is administered efficiently, with integrity, with predictability, and with an understanding of today’s business realities

This announcement makes sense as the EB-5 program is more than just an immigrant visa program; it involves many complex business and financial issues that a regular immigration adjudication officer may not have the training or experience to resolve.  A dedicated office and chief will also promote accountability and efficiency.  The creation of the new EB-5 program office is good news to both foreign investors and the U.S. businesses, facilitating capital investment and creation of American jobs - something that we desperately need right now. 

(Paul Szeto, an immigration lawyer and former INS attorney, regularly writes on immigration issues. His contact info: 732-632-9888, info@szetolaw.com)

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