1. Processing Times Improvement. This year we saw the establishment of the EB-5 program office in Washington, DC. I-924 transfers to the new program office have resulted in decreased processing times for initial regional center application as well as amendments. However, I-526 petitions and I-829 petitions are at an all-time slowdown and are now taking 18 months or more to adjudicate. This causes problems for projects in need of financing and shakes investor confidence in the program. A decrease in processing times is urgently needed.
  2. Provide Clarification on Sale of Regional Centers. On May 30th of 2013, the UCSIS released its long awaited binding EB-5 policy guidance. Missing from this guidance was the topic of regional centers sales. Previously, USCIS had held that sales were permitted but required amendments. In recent adjudications, USCIS seems to be shying away from this position. Clear guidance is urgently needed.
  3. Provide Clarification on Geographic Expansion in May 30th Policy Memorandum. While I continue to believe that “reasonableness” that is supported by data of a dependent economic region is required to justify a geographic expansion of an existing regional centers without an amendment. There appears to be much confusion on what is and is not permitted in terms of expansion in the May 30th Memorandum – clarification is needed.
  4. Stop Applying Tenant Occupancy Analysis to Operations Jobs. In many situations, a developer will operate a development with a separate entity which is controlled by the same individuals who control the developer. USCIS will sometimes improperly classify this relationship as tenant occupancy without applying a different analysis based on the interrelation of the eventual operator and developer.
  5. Reconsider Introduction of Premium Processing for I-924 and/ or I-526 Petitions. Two week adjudication times of applications would bring in greater revenues for the USCIS to allow it to expand its services and boost confidence in the program for both U.S. based organizations seeking capital and for foreign investors.
  6. Improve Form I-924A. Form I-924A does not currently have the ability to accurately represent projects. Additionally, for indirect regional center investments it is very hard and in some cases, impossible, to break down job creation by year. There is also no way to represent withdrawn I-526 petitions on the form. The form also doesn’t provide enough space to list a regional center’s NAICS codes. In the past, 3 slots for NAICS codes may have been enough. However, the May 30th Memorandum did away with amendments which has increased the number of NAICS codes a regional center works operates in.
  7. Regional Center Decision Board. In cases, where no exemplar filed provide I-526 applicants and/or Regional Center applicants in a situation where a project has been denied to argue the overall case before the Interim Decision Board before project wide denials are issued to all investor for project deficiencies.
  8. Train Adjudicators on Corporate and Financial Structure Issues. EB-5 financing is becoming more of a traditional way to finance large real estate projects. This is a positive for the program because sophisticated businesses and people will be using EB-5 financing in the future. However, large real estate projects typically utilize complex corporate structures in order to finance large developments. USCIS adjudicators will have to understand common industry ideas such as preferred equity, tiered corporate structures, mortgage positions, mezzanine loans, intercreditor agreements, and the prevalence of senior financing in these complex structures.
  9. Provide Contact Information for Regional Centers on Website. Currently, the USCIS page listing regional centers is a kin to a “data-dump” of information. For businesses and individuals interested in specific geographic areas, it is very difficult to find regional centers in those areas without browsing through pages and pages of Google search results. For this reason, and for transparency and compliance issues, USCIS should list general contact information for each regional center.
  10.  Allow Online Case Tracking for I-829 Applications and Fix Receipting Issues. Because of the issues referenced in Number 13 below, I-829 applications do not issue receipt notices for dependents. This makes it difficult for dependents to obtain I-551 stamps or green card extensions, because they are not listed on the principal applicant’s I-829 receipt notice.
  11. Consider Allowing Regional Centers to Have Standing both I-526 and I-829 Petitions and Accept Dual G-28s. I-526 and I-829 Petitions materially affect a regional centers standing with USCIS. Regional centers must report denials and approvals for both of these positions on their I-526 and I-829 Petitions. The current system does not allow regional centers the ability to provide additional information directly to USCIS for I-829 and I-526 Petitions or monitor progress of those petitions. Allowing regional centers limited standings to supplement project documents and receive case correspondence, which may be redacted to remove certain personal information if necessary, would be helpful for regional centers to ensure compliance with USCIS and other U.S. laws.
  12. Reconsider the 2.5 year Job Rule. For investments in regional centers, the regulations do not contain time constraints on the projected job creation, nor does it reference the time limits that are specifically stated in the regulations pertaining to direct EB-5 investment. Given the nature of many projects this guidance appears to be unworkable. For example, large cities such as New York have construction timelines which far exceed 2.5 years.
  13. Allow Dependents to be Included on I-526 Form to Facilitate National Visa Center Processing. Currently there is no room on an I-526 form as there are with other immigrant visa forms to list dependents. Thus, when the fee bills for immigrant visa processing are issued they often exclude spouses and children and applicants lose valuable time in the immigrant visa process requesting that they be added and the NVC generate new fee bills so review of the petitions commences.