On May 02 2016 by Jessica A. DeNisi
USCIS Announces New Compliance Initiatives
During the April 25th Stakeholder’s call, USCIS announced it is imminently implementing three new compliance initiatives: regional center audits, site visits and interviews for investors filing I-829 petitions. Regional Centers should immediately develop compliance procedures to be prepared for these new USCIS initiatives.
Site visits have long been a part of USCIS’ oversight procedures, though never before applied to EB-5 related adjudications. As mentioned in the Stakeholder’s call, the execution of these site visits will likely mirror those visits undertaken by USCIS in other programs. We have been advising clients for many years regarding site visits related to the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. For such site visits, regional centers should maintain accessible records. Some examples are evidence of job creation, amount and use of foreign capital invested, agreements or contracts with promoters, and evidence of policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with securities laws. Klasko Compliance advises regional centers on the collection, maintenance and accuracy of such documentation and trains regional center staff on the proper procedures for handling a government site visit, ensuring the regional center is prepared to properly present its progress and oversight of activities.
Enhanced audits of regional centers and their projects could take any number of forms – undertaken as part of a site visit, in tandem with a regional center’s reporting requirements or independently. Regional centers will need to institute a procedure for continual monitoring and diligent recordkeeping of all its sponsored projects and marketing activities. Our compliance practice can help regional centers to ensure accurate monitoring and reporting by working with staff to institute procedures for gathering, reviewing and maintaining information across multiple areas of operation and monitoring its securities offerings, promoters, and associated businesses. Klasko Compliance trains regional center staff on monitoring and maintenance procedures to see that information collection is timely and continual in order to identify and remedy potential issues before the government comes knocking.
Although infrequently utilized, pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 216.6(b), USCIS has the right to interview an EB-5 investor filing an I-829 petition. USCIS has now announced that these interviews will be routinely conducted for the first time. In preparation for these interviews, investors will need to be informed about the status of their EB-5 investments, the use of their money and the updated status of job creation. Klasko Compliance advises regional centers on the maintenance and monitoring of individual investor documentation and investment transactions. We work with regional centers to prepare documentation for providing investors with updates on the progress of a project and updated documentation that each investor will need to present at his or her interview.
These measures, while in their early stages, are not proposed changes or mere suggestions discussed as part of a larger reform discussion. They are instead a real part of USCIS’ evolving policy, with immediate effect and attendant potential consequences. We are prepared to help prepare a compliance regimen to manage these new procedures and help mitigate any potential immigration risks.