EB-5 Update: Improved Efficiency and Service at the USCIS Investor Program Office

Amid prolonged uncertainty about the future of the EB-5 Program, USCIS appears to be forging ahead with attempts to improve its systems and service. At the November 1, 2016, liaison meeting with the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) USCIS Field Operations Liaison Committee and participating EB-5 Committee representatives, USCIS’s Investor Program Office (IPO) answered some probing questions about: 1. Whether cases in fact are processed as first-in-first-out,  2. The reason multiple project Requests for additional evidence (RFE) have been issued in certain instances; 3.

Will President-elect Donald Trump Propose Changes to EB-5 Regulations?

Last Monday David Carle, Leahy's spokesman when asked about the prospects for EB-5 reform legislation in light of the new President-elect Trump stated: "That would be pure speculation, I have never heard Trump comment on the program one way or the other." Leahy was elected to his eight term in the Senate ealier this month and according to Carle, the Senator continue to support the proposed EB-5 changes.

Carle affirmed that the Senator "made it very clear he does not support doing the program without reforms."

DHS raises filing fees

On October 24, 2016, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services announced that it is raising filing fees by about 30%. The new fees will be effective December 23rd. USCIS is almost entirely funded by the fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits. The law requires USCIS to conduct fee reviews every two (2) years to determine the funding levels necessary to administer the nation's immigration laws, process benefit requests and provide the infrastructure needed to support those activities.

EB-5 Reauthorization included in Continuing Resolution (CR) filed today by Senate Majority Leader

On September 22, 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that would extend federal funding, an the EB-5 Regional Center Program, through December 9, 2016. Neither Democrats in Congress nor the White House have agreed to the legisative text yet and negotiations are expected to continue into next week (on issues unrelated to EB-5) when there will be a cloture bote on the CR, which is now scheduled for September 27 at 2:15 EST.

The sunset date for the EB-5 Regional Center Program is September 30, 2016

What will happen over the next few days? The most likely scenario is for short-term RC program authorization to be included (just like last year) in a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Industry groups are pushing for this to happen to give Congress and the industry more time to negotiate long-term reform and reauthorization.

EB-5 Industry Speaks with One Voice on Renewal and Reauthorization

On July 5, 2016 the leading EB-5 Trade Associations/Coalitions sent a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary Committee Leaders and Members expressing support for extending the EB-5 Regional Center Program and recommending concrete changes.  This is a decisive moment for the EB-5 Industry as the key members of the community are all speaking with one voice. This effort is encouraging and will likely add to productive conversations with key offices on the Hill.

EB-5 Filing Fees to Increase

Just when employers in the United States were raising concerns about the steep increase in the statutory fees for certain H-1B and L-1 petitions (to say nothing about continued complaints regarding the lengthy delays in adjudicating petitions), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) threw another curve ball. Putting into practice the “Full Cost Recovery” theory, DHS has proposed to raise USCIS filing fees by a weighted average of 21 percent and to impose a stiff new fee on the Regional Centers with regard to EB-5 processing in an effort to fully recover costs for its services.