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September 8 2014

Another Regional Center Fraud Charge

Los Angeles-based EB-5 attorney Justin Moongyu Lee has been indicted for misappropriating $47 million from 94 Chinese and Korean investors seeking EB-5 immigration. He promised them their capital would develop an ethanol plant which was never built. Lee was arrested on similar charges last year in Korea where he remains in jail. The SEC also filed a civil action against Lee, along with his wife and former law partner.

Question I have posed to the USCIS

On the September 10, 2014 EB-5 stakeholders call, I have asked USCIS to address the following question:

Generally speaking, it is USCIS policy that the jobs need to be created at the time of filing the I-829 (or within a reasonable time, which the May 30, 2013 Memo says 1 year absent a force majeure). If construction lasts 2 years or more, permanent on-site construction jobs may be counted toward job creation.

Given the processing time of I-526s, delays at the NVC and quota retrogression in May 2015 (as predicted by DOS’s Charles Oppenheim), immigration by EB-5 may well take 2 to 3 years plus. Counting conditional residence of 21-24 months, the I-829 may not be filed for 4 to 5 years after the I-526 filing.

Please confirm that construction impact jobs (direct jobs for construction lasting two years or more, or indirect and induced jobs arising from any construction) may be counted even if construction has been completed by the time of the filing of the I-829.

The USCIS practice in this regard is to permit counting such jobs at the I-829 stage. One experienced EB-5 economist said, “for on-site construction jobs, USCIS permits looking back and will permit such job creation. But generally, operation jobs must exist at the I-829 filing or be created within 1 year.” The USCIS 12-11-09 policy memo which is part of the AFM however still says construction jobs must exist at the time the I-829 is filed.

In this regard, please note that I-829 filing can be delayed for reasons including extended I-526 or visa/adjustment adjudication, visa number unavailability, family emergencies that delay use of visa, etc., and it would be unreasonable to subject investors, who plan to count construction impact jobs, to vulnerability from such uncontrollable situations.

Government Fees Go Down

The Department of State visa application fee for an EB-5 immigrant has decreased from the previous $405 down to $345 per person.