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August 29 2013

The EB-5 World is Ever-Changing

The EB-5 World is Ever-Changing

An article appeared in a Seattle magazine that the Washington Regional Center obtained USCIS approval for an exemplar I-526 for a bridge project which will be backed by Washington state bonds. Some question whether there is any real risk with such an investment. The developer is lauding this as a unique concept, but a colleague got a similar deal approved by USCIS a while ago.

This concept will create considerable competition between strictly commercial investments and those involving bonds.

One person told me that some will push for legislation requiring a higher investment amount for such bond projects as the risk factor is so much different than for a non-bond project.

USCIS Backlog

Some older regional center I-924 applications have recently been decided. Still, the I-526s seem to be taking longer than ever, and stand-alones are not being decided in the three- to six-month timeframe they were a year ago.

The Ax Hits L-1 Visas

The L-1 is a temporary work visa for a multi-national company transferee. It allows executives, managers and specialists of multinational corporations to be transferred from an overseas corporation to usually a subsidiary in the US. There is a similar green card classification – EB-1, for executives and managers of a qualifying multinational company.

The USCIS has been very restrictive on L-1 visas for a number of years – denying about a third, especially so for Chinese companies. Often the reason for denial is that the US company is too small to justify an “executive” or “manager.”

This week the Office of Inspector General released a report at the behest of Senator Chuck Grassley (an anti-immigration Republican from Iowa). It says:

  • USCIS must be more diligent to weed out fraud.
  • Consuls and immigration inspectors on the US-Canadian border should be trained to look for fraud.
  • There were at one time about 60,000 L-1 visas granted annually – now there are only about 29,000.

USCIS also reported that L-1 company offices would soon be audited with random visits, as is the case with H-1B visas.

How is this related to EB-5s? Some executives/managers have used the L-1/EB-1 avenue to immigrate. A more restrictive USCIS attitude toward L-1/EB-1 will drive more people to use the EB-5 program.