The US EB-5 Regional Center program has suffered many setbacks in recent years. The confidence of foreign investors in the program has been shaken by a series of events. For one thing, renewals of the EB-5 Regional Center program were decoupled from the normal Congressional budgeting process, making it more difficult to renew the program. The Covid-19 has made it very difficult to raise capital and the processing of files has been slowed down during the pandemic. President Trump raised the minimum investment to $900,000. Then the Behring case came to undo the regulatory changes made under Trump. Finally, and most importantly, Congress authorized the Regional Center program to end on June 30, 2021. For nine months, the EB-5 Regional Center program has wandered no man’s land in search of a resurrection. . Finally, on March 15, 2022, Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, setting May 15, 2022 as the new date when the regional center program could become operational again.
A surprise new shape
In a series of new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) recently released, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a new policy regarding the Regional Center’s EB-5 program. The position taken does not sit well with many representatives of the immigration investor community. It states, “Entities seeking designation as a Regional Center are required to file Form I-956, Request for Regional Center Designation. USCIS will post this new form, including form instructions, along with additional information regarding the filing process by May 14, 2022.” The regional center program was scheduled to begin operating May 15, 2022. law enforcement with this new step is not a welcome development.
A redesignation is necessary
The problem is compounded by the fact that USCIS believes that previously designated regional centers are unable to retain their designation without filing the new Form I-956. They argue that the 2022 Reform and Integrity Act EB-5 repealed the former Regional Centers program, thereby requiring previously designated Regional Centers to reapply for designation. The position taken delays individuals seeking immigrant investor status from filing for Form I-526 as a foreign entrepreneur after May 14, 2022, as the regional center must first file the I-956 to get approval, then submit a project application and receive a receipt number to be eligible to help investors file their green cards.
Grandfathered I-526s can be processed
Fortunately, not all foreign investors are delayed by this surprise USCIS ruling. the USCIS is processing Regional Center-related Form I-526s filed on or before June 30, 2021, which is the day the previous Regional Center program ended. Although the repeal of the former Immigrant Investor Program requires previously designated Regional Centers to reapply for designation if they wish to continue participation, the need to reapply does not impact on petitions that were pending prior to March 15, 2022. new legislation, processing is carried out in accordance with the eligibility requirements applicable at the time such petitions were filed.
New Online Regional Center Program
That said, it is clear that the success or failure of the new EB-5 Regional Center program is at stake here. Some have asked if the new Form I-956 can be processed on an expedited basis. The fear is that if these applications are not processed within a month or two, foreign investors’ confidence in the regional center’s program will be shaken to the point where the program will be abandoned. Why wait to see how long the United States will take to open its foreign investor immigration program when other countries offer these same foreign investors excellent alternatives?
The only hope is that USCIS pulls together and prioritizes these applications to open the new regional center program and get it working as it should as soon as possible.