In February 2014, USCIS hosted a telephonic meeting with EB-5 stakeholders regarding the EB-5 program. During that call, USCIS estimated an average processing time of 12 months for I-924 applications. As of June 2014, the pendency period has increased, and we are now seeing a longer window of approximately 12-15 months. However, Mr. Nicholas Colucci, the new chief of the USCIS EB-5 Program Office, is optimistic and determined to grow the EB-5 office and employ several dozen additional economists and adjudicators to expedite the adjudication process. Notably, Regional Centers should keep a few notes in mind when filing their I-924 applications. Regional Centers should file a proper and comprehensive I-924 Application because it minimizes the chance of an RFE or NOID, thereby allowing for a quicker approval.

First, Regional Centers should be aware that USCIS has its own internal checklist when evaluating an I-924 Regional Center Proposal. Thus, before submitting an I-924 Application, Regional Centers should ensure that all documents on the internal USCIS checklist are included in the I-924 Application. These documents include:

  1. Organizational Documents for the Regional Center
  2. TEA
  3. Geographic Area Requested
  4. Economic Impact Report which includes the following:
    a. Economic Growth Analysis
    b. Regional or National Impact Analysis
    c. Direct, Indirect, and Induced Job Creation
    d. Econometric Model
  5. NAICS Codes / Industries
  6. Business Plan
  7. Operational Plan which includes the following:
    a. Project Evaluation and Assessment
    b. Amount and Source of Regional Center’s capital
    c. Recruitment and Due Diligence
    d. Promotional Efforts
    e. Administrative Oversight

By having these detailed documents fully drafted and submitted, Regional Centers would essentially pre-empt issues that USCIS may have asked in a future RFE. This is one way that Regional Centers can help themselves in accelerating the I-924 processing times.

Second, USCIS also allows for certain cases to be expedited as long as they satisfy certain expedite criteria. This list of criteria can be found on the USCIS website. As stated by USCIS, “all expedite requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and are granted at the discretion of the Director. The burden is on the applicant or petitioner to demonstrate that one or more of the expedite criteria have been met.” The expedite criteria include:

  1. Severe financial loss to company or individual
  2. Extreme emergent situation
  3. Humanitarian situation
  4. Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
  5. Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: Request must come from official United States Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to our Government)
  6. USCIS error
  7. Compelling interest of USCIS

If a Regional Center satisfies one or more of these criteria, then USCIS will expedite the case and it will consequently result in a faster adjudication. As USCIS grows its internal EB-5 team of adjudicators and improves its own processing timeline, Regional Centers can also help themselves in shortening the processing times by ensuring their submitted applications are complete and by notifying USCIS of any expedite criteria.