Immigration and firm news

EB-5 Regional Centers Receive Notices of Intent to Terminate

In November 2010, USCIS developed Form I-924A for EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers to file every year documenting the various investments and jobs created in their centers.  The first required filing period began October 1, 2011 with reports due in before the end of the year.  This year, reports are due between October 1, 2014 and December 29, 2014.  However, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, USCIS issued 29 notices of intent to terminate a regional center’s designation for failure to file the annual report on Form I-924A. More than 50 EB-5 regional centers received notices of USCIS’ intent to terminate their designation for either not filing the required Form I-924A, or failing to promote economic growth as required under the EB-5 regulations. Potential investors in Regional Centers are advised that part of their due diligence should be review of a center’s I-924A filings and any notices of intent terminate that the center may have received and the center’s response.

Among the data collected in the I-924A is data showing:
• Aggregate amount of EB-5 capital invested by immigrant investors.
• Aggregate number of direct and indirect jobs created through investment (including induced jobs even if not mentioned on the form). Projections of job creation may be based on I-829 data, or, if the regional center has not completed I-829 processes, it may be based on existing economic impact studies of job creation for current projects.
• In the case of a troubled business, the aggregate number of jobs maintained by the EB-5 investment.
• Information on the industries (NAICS codes) in which jobs have been created, which should include both industries approved in the regional center’s USCIS designation letter, and any industries for which an amendment has been requested in a Form I-526 filing and which is being used for estimating job creation impacts in an economic study.
• Information on each new commercial enterprise and/or job creating enterprise located within the geographic scope of the regional center. This should include the name, address and industries in which the new commercial enterprise and job creating enterprise operate.
• The number of Form I-526 petitions that have been approved, denied, or revoked through the regional center.
• The number of Form I-829 petitions that have been approved, denied, or revoked through the regional center.

In a recent EB-5 stakeholder conference call, USCIS also advised regional centers to include with Form I-924A, a letter describing the regional center’s activities and marketing efforts to help explain the center’s operations. For example, the regional center can report the number of I-526 petitions in process; job creation projections based on existing projects; the progress of current and future development projects; and other steps taken to advance the regional center’s purpose of promoting economic growth. According to USCIS, such a letter may help supplement the limited data that is collected on Form I-924A.

USCIS stated during the September 2014 stakeholders call, that while it did not initially enforce the annual reporting requirement in the first year or two, it is now taking it very seriously and will file notices of intent to terminate  a regional center’s designation for failure to timely file Form I-924A.  USCIS stated that in FY 2013, 340 out of a total of the 369 regional centers (92%) that were required to file Form I-924A did so. The 29 regional centers that failed to file were issued notices of intent to terminate. Some of the 29 did not respond to the notice and their regional center status was terminated.

Meanwhile, there are other reasons a center can be terminated from the program.  USCIS recently issued 24 notices of intent to terminate based on the determination that the regional center no longer served the purpose of promoting economic growth under EB-5 regulations. USCIS did not disclose the specific reasons for these additional 24 notices. Approximately 10 years ago, there fewer than 30 approved regional centers; as of June 2, 2014, there are approximately 579 approved regional centers. Obviously, some will be better than others for a variety of reasons.  Therefore, potential investors should be very wary when analyzing centers to invest in by building a good team to conduct thorough due diligence.  Alternatively, potential EB-5 investors should consider investing in their own enterprises for EB-5 purposes where they can control their own business or projects without relying on others to make sure the EB-5 regional center as a whole, involving multiple investors, is operating properly.
(From the American Immigration Lawyers Association Practice Pointer, AILA Infonet Doc. No. posted 10/22/2014.)