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Iowa Immigration Law Blog: USCIS releases draft EB5 policy memo - February 15, 2013

Our Valentine from USCIS this year was the release of a draft EB5 policy memo.  EB5 is the “million dollar investment/10 jobs” category.  It does not always require $1 million ($500,000 in rural areas or designated high unemployment areas will also work).

As great an idea as EB5 is, the uncertainty of government interpretations continues to plague the category. Even so, investors are increasingly lining up to utilize it, particularly in the “regional centers” – approved programs where the 10-job requirement can be satisfied by indirect employment (shown by economic modeling) rather than 10 additional people working at the entity in which the investment was made.

The draft memo is an attempt to create more certainty for investors and their counsel. Given the intricacies of potential investment vehicles that are proliferating, the memo is relatively short and somewhat simplistic.  But it is a start.

USCIS is also very concerned about fraud in EB5 transactions – as with any immigration application.  Recent events, including an investment scam in Chicago, show the high stakes involved.  But one way to help fight fraud is to provide transparency in adjudication and rules that people who put in the necessary effort can understand and follow.

If the draft rules are the first step to this laudable goal, it will warm many hearts.

February 28 – a day to remember

Besides it being the last day Pope Benedict XVI will serve in office, USCIS has announced that “legacy” electronic filings of I-539s will no longer to accepted.  Instead, all I-539s filed electronically must use ELIS, the new system being rolled out – they hope – to all USCIS forms at some point.

I-539s are the forms to extend status of visitors and certain other non-immigrants, like H, L and other dependents.  It is a fairly straightforward form.  However, ELIS has been anything but straightforward.

We recommend filing by mail for now.