Monday, April 15, 2013

The Inexcusable I-526 Limbo

When even a Senator can't get the Director of USCIS to "unstick" inexcusable I-526 adjudication delays, it's time to write the White House.  Let's see if Mr. Obama is serious about his "Invest in America" agenda...or whether USCIS inaction will lead to an exodus of EB-5 investment capital and ghosts of jobs that never were...



Dear Mr. President:

I am a former Reagan FSO who has practiced investment immigration law for over 20 years.  I am also co-owner of American Venture Solutions Regional Center, a USCIS-approved EB-5 Regional Center in Florida, the only EB-5 Regional Center owned & managed by a Forbes 400 group.  The EB-5 program has been the most successful foreign direct investment (FDI) initiative in the history of the U.S.  Unfortunately, USCIS delays are costing local communities tens of millions of dollars in FDI because of drastic adjudication delays in EB-5 investor petitions.

EB-5 investors, promised 8 month adjudication timelines by USCIS, are now waiting in excess of 14 months with no end in sight.  In December I was promised in writing that our first two long-delayed investor's cases would be adjudicated "within 30 days".  To date, three more inquiries have resulted in polite responses, saying essentially "we are sorry, we are indeed behind."

Since last year, Florida Senator Bill Nelson has done his best to get answers for our investors...only to receive the same response I received.  Senator Nelson has even personally spoken to USCIS Director Mayorkas several times regarding the "stuck" EB-5 cases and millions in job-creating capital the delays are causing Florida but to no avail.  As a result, hundreds of frustrated foreign investors are saying "give us our $500,000, we do NOT want to invest in a country which breaks its promises."  And for every investor who comes to that conclusion, that's ten American jobs which will never be.

Numerous approved EB-5 Regional Centers are losing or close to losing their EB-5 investors as a result of these inexplicable delays.  Their pending I-526 petitions are exceedingly simple adjudications, with a single focus: "can the investor document full the legitimacy of their source of funds?"  The rest - the Regional Center and its project --has been approved and adjudicated by USCIS already.  Instead of getting these funds to work in creating American jobs, USCIS continues to prioritize the adjudication of pending I-924 applications from more Regional Centers, the vast majority of which invariably fail to raise EB-5 capital.  If we can't meet our end of the EB-5 bargain for the investors risking their capital, an even smaller percentage of Regional Centers will actually be able to raise EB-5 investment funds...which is the critical component of the program.  We need the investors visas approved for funds to break escrow and American jobs to be created.  That, Mr. President, should be USCIS resoundingly clear adjudication priority.

Mr. President, your Invest in America efforts have sparked a new interest in FDI in the US, and EB-5 is a big part of that.  But these efforts are foundering over a very simple matter.  If we want to create jobs with EB-5 at-risk capital, you need to directly order USCIS to approve these long-past-due I-526 investor petitions immediately, before our national credibility is destroyed and tens of thousands of US jobs vanish in the wake of an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Respectfully,

Jose E. Latour
 


 ALSO:

Take a look at Ron Klasko's incisive analysis of the inactivity in 526 processing:

Ron Klasko First Quarter Review of EB-5 Processing on ILW

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