24 Apr IIUSA Annual Conference – Deputy Chief of USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office Guest of Honor at IIUSA Solemn mood following the Jay Peak scandal. Thorny areas tackled.
IIUSA Annual Conference
Washington, D.C. (April 20-22, 2016)
Deputy Chief of USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office Guest of Honor at IIUSA
Solemn mood following the Jay Peak scandal. Thorny areas tackled.
Live from Washington, D.C. – Members of Invest In the USA (IIUSA) were privileged to hear from Julia Harrison, Deputy Chief, USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Officer.
As I-526, I-829, and I-924 petitions have seen an increase in the processing times of adjudication, Deputy Chief Harrison indicated that the IPO has and is continuing to hire staff, aiming for 171 additional staff members by the end of the year. Ms. Harrison stated that the 2,000 petitions that were lost in the shuffle in 2012/2013 due to the move of the immigrant office is now down to 300 cases. For other cases, they would continue to be reviewed by first in, first out. However, to keep efficiency and consistency, I-526 petitions from the same project would be reviewed by one officer.
In addition, the policy team is fully staffed, and will have a policy manual, instead of single policy memos, posted by the Fall for comments from the public. In addition, USCIS will host an EB-5 Stakeholders call on Monday, April 25th, focusing on regulatory and policy changes. Deputy Chief Harrison stressed the importance of every EB-5 stakeholder to attend in person or by conference call, and would like to focus on the following specific topics: 1) minimum investment amounts; 2) TEA designation process; 3) RC designation process – geographical scope and the exemplar approach; and 4) indirect job creation methodologies.
It was also gleaned that the electronic system filing is being considered once again as the funding request has been approved. A tech team is being assembled, but it will still take time to implement. In addition, USCIS understands the disconnect with the NVC, such as having to email the NVC for each investor to add dependents. There have been discussions, but no immediate fix. There is hope in the future to add dependents on the I-526 form. The Service will also conduct site visits, audits, interviews with investors, etc. to keep the program’s integrity.
Mr. Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State and the person who prepares and publishes the monthly visa bulletin, provided some thoughts and his expectations for the upcoming few months’ Visa Bulletin movements. He was joined on his panel by Mona Shah, Esq. and Bernie Wolfsdorf Esq. Although there were no shockers, the delay in the visa processing continues to hamper the flow of EB-5 investors from Mainland China. Mr. Oppenheim predicts that the use of chart B would again be utilized in October 2016 for AOS cases. In addition, for June 2016 visa bulletin, the date will only move forward to February 15, 2014 for the Final Action Date.
Panelists spoke about difficult issues such as ways to increase visas, whether a minor can legally sign a contract in EB-5 or be an accredited investor. Issues relating to Senate Bill 1501 were discussed.
There was also a very timely and important panel consisting of regulators from the SEC, FINRA, MSRB and the Alabama Securities Commission. Of note, Joseph Borg of the Alabama Securities Commission said that he expects state securities regulators to begin taking a much greater interest in EB-5 projects located in their states as governors and other state officials seek to avoid a repeat of the Jay Peak fiasco which has put many Vermont politicians in a very uncomfortable position.