The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 brought many changes to the EB-5 program. For the latest information, please click here.
USCIS Director Ali Mayorkas’ proposal for reforming and improving the EB-5 process has the potential to be a major step forward in making the EB-5 program more user friendly for real estate developers and other businesses seeking foreign investment capital.
Director Mayorkas’ proposal has three major elements.
One element of great importance is providing for accelerated processing (target two months) and premium processing (15 day processing) for “shovel ready” projects. This would apply to the regional center designation application, the exemplar I-526 project preapproval and the petitions of the investors in these projects. Although the definition of “shovel ready” is ambiguous and might better be defined as a project for which the developer is ready to seek investment capital, the concept is a very important one. Present processing times are unrealistic, and developers cannot be expected to wait the 12 to 18 months necessary for a regional center to be approved, a project to be approved, and an investor’s petition to be approved.
The second key component of the Mayorkas proposal involves the hiring of qualified expert personnel to adjudicate regional center designation applications and project pre-approval applications. Director Mayorkas proposes to add economists and business analysts for this purpose. Economic development specialists might also be added to the USCIS staff. The issues to be adjudicated in these applications are both complex and technical, and the Immigration Service needs to bring to the task professionals experienced in dealing with these issues.
The third major component of the Mayorkas proposal is to change the regional center and project pre-approval process from an adversarial to a consultative process. The Director proposes to change the present petition filing/RFE/RFE response process into one where the developer would have the right to a hearing with the expert professionals described above in order for the Service to articulate any questions or concerns and for the developer and his team of professionals to provide answers. This should result in faster, better and more informed adjudications.
The public has had an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Although commenters no doubt suggested improvements to the proposal, there is no question that implementation of the proposal, with whatever changes are deemed appropriate, will be a major step forward in making the EB-5 program more attractive for businesses seeking capital. This would be consistent with President Obama’s Select USA Initiative to attract more foreign direct investment into the U.S.
Although the proposal is a major step forward, it means nothing unless and until it is actually adopted by USCIS. The public eagerly awaits notification of its implementation.