Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 25, 2011 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has proposed major changes to the rules to its EB-5 visa program, which provides green cards to foreign investors who invest money in the United States. USCIS says the changes would significantly decrease the intake and review process for some applicants.
Foreign investors seeking to obtain a green card through the EB-5 program must invest $500,000 and create at least 10 jobs in a qualified investment or a regional center with high unemployment rates. The U.S. grants 10,000 immigrant visas through the program every year.
The proposed changes would affect immigrants who apply to invest in qualified regional centers, creating a fast-track processing procedure, known as the Premium Processing Service, for applicants who have fully developed projects that are “shovel-ready” – ready to be implemented. Applicants can pay an additional fee to obtain guaranteed 15-day processing. USCIS believes that this will both speed up the procedure and provide an incentive for applicants to file more focused applications.
Another change would create teams who specialize in intake. They would address any questions an applicant has directly through email and help to resolve any issue that arise during the process. Teams will include USCIS economists, business analysts and adjudicators.
A third change would create a Decision Board, made up of experts who would adjudicate decisions about regional center applications. The board will receive cases provided by the intake teams and either approve the applicants, ask for more information, or deny their request. The applicant can request an interview if his or her application is denied.
While the proposed changes do much to speed up the E-B5 process, some of them may cause redundancies in the program that waste precious time for applicants.
“EB-5 processing would be greatly aided if investors could actually rely on a USCIS approval for the elements covered by the approval,” said Dallas immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz of the firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “For example, if USCIS approves the Regional Center’s petition, and then approves that Regional Center’s exemplar petition, why should investors suffer a USCIS I-526 adjudicator’s request to re-adjudicate the elements already addressed and approved in the Regional Center’s approval and the exemplar petition’s approval? Yet, that is exactly what is happening today.”
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