Thanks to the alert eyes of Jeff Carr of EPR / EB-5 Economics who brought to our attention a newly released memo posted on ABC news from USCIS titled “Alternative to Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” The memo has several recommendations for the agency should comprehensive immigration reform not get passed by Congress this year.
Of interest to the EB5 visa community are recommendations on how USCIS and the Department of Commerce (DOC) could work together to improve the outreach of the EB5 immigrant investor visa program to prospective EB5 foreign national investors. The memo is fascinating as although the subject of a USCIS / DOC partnership to promote the EB5 immigrant investor visa program has been the subject of a number of stakeholder discussions, this is the first time that an actual plan has been put in writing and proposed to a large audience.
Seeing that the memo addresses a potentially enormous legislative and national problem should comprehensive immigration reform not occur this year, the fact that the EB5 immigrant investor visa program even gets mentioned is big news for EB5 visa investors, practioners and stakeholders.
On Page 5, section B: To Foster Economic Growth:
Partner with Department of Commerce (DOC) to administer the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program
The paragraph mentions how the EB5 immigrant investor visa program requires foreign nationals who invest in the United States to create at least 10 jobs to obtain LPR status. Then it states:
“Due to a number of factors the EB-5 program has been underutilized and, as a result, job creation under this program has been limited. USCIS views the EB-5 visa program as an important tool in assisting the U.S. economy as our country continues to recover from the recent recession.”
“Currently, an opportunity exists for USCIS and the DOC to work together in promoting the EB-5 visa Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (Pilot Program). The goals of the Pilot Program and the goals of certain DOC components, such as Invest in America, seem to provide a natural starting point for agency collaboration. OPS proposes setting up a working group with the DCO to determine how DOC might assist USCIS in making the EB-5 program more accessible to foreign investors through administrative efficiencies and promotion.”
The memo goes on to describe how such a working group can operate listing the Implementation Method, Resources / Consideration & Target Date. For instance under Resources / Considerations it specifies that:
“DHS and USCIS leadership agree that the partnership with DOC would be beneficial to USCIS as well as the EB-5 stakeholder community.”
As for implementation, the memo emphasizes that rules would need to be made to “codify joint administration of the EB-5 Visa Program once parameters are agreed upon between the two agencies.”
As for the Target Date it mentions that is to be determined but in parenthesis “[We can begin cooperating with Invest in America immediately]. Allow 3-9 months so that the low hanging fruit can be harvested first.”
Although this proposal is controversial within the EB5 visa stakeholder’s community, it appears as though a partnership between USCIS to manage the visa portion of the program and DOC to manage the commercial operations, compliance and promotion may be beneficial to increasing awareness among potential EB5 immigrant investors and more oversight of regional center operations.
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