USCIS Enhancements to EB-5 Visa Processing Aimed at Job Creation
Last week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced three fundamental changes to the way it processes applications for the Immigrant Investor Program, commonly referred to as the EB-5 Program. The changes are designed to improve the intake and review process for immigrant investors.
Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990. The goal of this immigration program was to attract entrepreneurs and investors from around the world who would create jobs in the U.S. Each year, the program makes 10,000 visas available to foreign investors who wish to establish permanent residence in the U.S. and who invest in commercial ventures that create at least 10 jobs.
The proposed enhancements to the EB-5 Program are as follows:
- Implement a premium service for processing Regional Center and EB-5 visa applications
- Create specialized intake teams that have expertise in EB-5 Program requirements as well as in economic analysis
- Assemble a Decision Board of experts that will make decisions about Regional Center applications
The first proposed improvement would accelerate the application process for fully developed, ready to implement projects that would immediately result in U.S. job creation. The Premium Processing Service would guarantee application turnaround in 15 business days for an additional fee. This is a significant reduction from the standard 6 month application turnaround time.
The second proposition would allow EB-5 Regional Center applicants to communicate directly with members of these specialized teams via e-mail. The teams’ in-depth knowledge of the program and economic analysis would allow them to review application issues with the background required to resolve specific program-related issues. This would streamline the time it takes to resolve issues and would allow applicants to get their questions answered more quickly.
The third proposal would put in place a Decision Board of experts that would render decisions on EB-5 Regional Center applications. The board would be comprised of an economist and others who would be supported by legal counsel. These newly dedicated resources would result in more efficient application adjudication.
The result of the proposed changes to EB-5 would make the program more transparent and make the U.S.more friendly to investors. By transforming the intake and review process for immigrant investors, the Obama Administration illustrates its continued commitment to improving the legal immigration system, which was a focus of President Obama’s 2008 campaign.