The EB-5 regional program brings significant investment into the US from overseas. However, critics say it’s open to abuse. Now, under a new program, EB-5 regional centers are receiving more regular site visits.
The visits are a result of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking to make sure regional centers are fulfilling their purposes under the EB-5 program.
USCIS closed some regional centers in 2016 and site visits have now become increasingly important to make sure the centers are in compliance with the EB-5 program.
The Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) division of USCIS has also started to carry out site visits for EB-5 projects.
EB=5 regional centers are subject to inspection
There are some inherent pitfalls in these visits for centers and it’s prudent to ensure an immigration attorney is present.
It’s vital that sites subject to inspections also appoint a trained, designated contact as well as a backup contact to engage FDNS on arrival.
The point of contact is usually the principal of the regional center or the commercial enterprise. He or she should be properly trained in the protocols of site visits and be armed with key information related to the project.
Sites should draw up a protocol to help anybody who is likely to come into contact with an FDNS agent including front desk staff.
Many people at centers are uncertain about these visits because they only started recently.
The site visits are not confined to businesses affiliated to regional centers alone. Any EB-5 direct investments, whether they are ‘stand-alone’ or non-regional center affiliated “collectives will be checked through the process of an in-person visit and an inspection. USCIS sets out the procedure for the compliance visits on its website.
Key Tasks of the Inspection Team for EB-5 Regional Center Visits
The work of the inspection team includes:
- Reviewing applications, certifications, and other records;
- Looking around the site;
- Reviewing public records and pertinent information on the regional center;
- Verifying relevant information such as supporting documents that are with applications as well as annual certifications
- Interviewing site personnel to confirm all the supporting information provided with applications and certifications is correct.
The EB-5 program allows overseas investors who bring at least $1 million into the United States or $500,000 if the money is invested in high-unemployment or rural areas, to gain a green card.
However, high profile scandals in recent years have made headlines. In Vermont, a ski resort was accused of misusing more than $200 million in investor funds in a Ponzi scheme.
As experienced Austin, Texas, visa immigration lawyers, we can provide help over compliance issues. Contact us via this link.