Imagine you or one of your employees is managing the front desk of an EB-5 Regional Center that’s overseeing a multi-million dollar construction project. A man without an appointment walks in, flashes a badge, and identifies himself as a federal agent from the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
He’s holding a camera and wants to take photos of the office. He would also like to speak with a principal of the Regional Center, who you explain is offsite. Undeterred, he proceeds with his inspection and starts asking questions about the regional center and EB-5 project. He would like a complete description of the project and how EB-5 funds are being spent. He also wants to know how much money remains in escrow, and how many jobs the project will create. And then, he would like you to show him to the project files so he can inspect them himself. Would you know what to do?
For most in the EB-5 community, this scenario is uncomfortable, unfamiliar, intimidating, and may even seem like the making of a very bad dream. After all, USCIS site visits are a new concept in EB-5. But for employers of nonimmigrants holding H-1B. L-1 or R-1 visas, this type of site visit is fairly routine. USCIS has been conducting them for years. And for those longtime clients of Klasko’s corporate worksite compliance practice group, these site visits are downright predictable. That is because Klasko is an industry leader in providing worksite compliance services to its clients, including representation in advance of, during, and subsequent to site visits. Through our many years of assisting corporate clients in this area, we have cultivated a workable formula for mastering the site visit process and providing comfort and confidence to employers. Today, Klasko Compliance offers the same comprehensive services to our EB-5 clients in anticipation of EB-5 site visits, slated to commence this year.
The stakes for our EB-5 clients have never been higher. In the wake of the Jay Peak incident, and in the midst of ongoing discussions in Congress about planned integrity measures affecting EB-5, the outcome of EB-5 audits and visits will inevitably act as a barometer for lawmakers contemplating the program’s longevity. More than that, though, interagency cooperation and information sharing between USCIS and the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office of Special Counsel is at an all-time high thanks to various memoranda of agreement established between them. This level of coordination forecasts a similar arrangement, including information sharing, between USCIS and the SEC as well as other enforcement agencies.
This is an unnerving prospect for some. For all in the EB-5 community, the new compliance initiatives greatly increase pressure on regional centers to strengthen oversight and improve record-keeping imminently. Compliance initiatives must be ongoing and continuous. It is no longer sufficient to wait for the I-829 or I-924A filings to collect data and documents relating to EB-5 investment activity, as USCIS examiners could drop in any time and ask to see your documents.
At Klasko, our robust EB-5 compliance services cover document collection, assembly and maintenance, and internal audits to test client preparedness. We provide a customized program containing important protocols and proven strategies for success during site visits that are specific to the Regional Center, NCE, and JCE – each of which are expected to see FDNS agents over the lifetime of an I-526 petition. We offer clients live assistance during a site visit from our team of EB-5 attorneys who are trained and ready to dial into inspections and help clients navigate the site visit in real time, as it happens. And finally, we rely on our experience and resources in this arena to track compliance trends and keep clients apprised of new developments. So as FDNS ramps up hiring and begins deploying agents to your front door, avoid the nightmare. Start preparing now with Klasko Compliance.