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EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

Form I-924A: Practical Considerations for EB-5 Regional Centers

By Jane (Yue) Zhang

As the number of EB-5 regional centers has grown rapidly from less than a dozen a decade ago to more than 850[1] today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials stressed at a recent stakeholder engagement session that regional center operators must file Form 1-924A annually or face termination from the program.

On October 24, 2016, USCIS announced a filing fee of $3,035 for each Form I-924A filed on or after December 23, 2016. Previously there was no filing fee required to file Form I-924A.[2]

 As a vital part of the EB-5 program, regional centers are limited partnerships or limited liability corporations that pool investments from immigrants to fund a range of projects. Regional center operators must file Form I-924A on time because an untimely submission will result in the issuance of a notice of intent to terminate the participation of a regional center in the EB-5 program.[3]

As regional centers grow in number and maturity, Form I-924A is an increasingly useful tool for USCIS to determine a regional center’s continued eligibility, along with its effectiveness in fulfilling the EB-5 program’s original intent: promotion of economic development in U.S. communities.  

The Basics[4]

Form I-924A is an application and serves as a supplement to Form I-924. Each designated regional center entity must file a Form I-924A for each federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30) after Form I-924 approval within 90 days of the end of the federal fiscal year (on or before December 29).  

The principal of a regional center is the applicant and this individual must sign the form. If an attorney or representative assists in preparing the application, he or she must also sign the form and attach a completed Form G-28. The final submission must contain original signatures.

A regional center must also attach its most recently issued approval notice, including any amendment approvals.

Tips and Recommendations

The form can be confusing to complete and many of the instructions are ambiguous. USCIS seems to understand the unwieldy nature of Form I-924A, as it has recently solicited comments on the current form. We may see a new version of the form in the near future, but for now, here are the best tips for the current version: 

  1. Filing Form I-924A is required for every regional center, even if no I-526 or I-829 petitions were filed and zero funds were released to new commercial entities (NCEs) or job-creating enterprises (JCEs) during the fiscal year, which may be the case for newly established or inactive regional centers. Regional centers may wish to proactively provide attached documentation to the filing to demonstrate promotion activity, like evidence of licenses, permits, property purchase in support of a project, and other evidence of ongoing regional center activity.
  2. The one-size-fits-all nature of the form is not always conducive to accurately reflecting the nuances and variations across projects and regional centers. When appropriate, insert an asterisk or footnote next to the applicable section that requires an explanation, and make any clarifying notes as appropriate. Add continuation sheets if necessary.
  3. “Aggregate EB-5 Capital Investment:” “Capital investment” occurs when EB-5 investment capital is transferred to the NCE. Thus, it is possible for a certain amount of capital to be held in escrow (if an escrow account exists) and yet have a lesser amount (even zero) invested in the applicable NCE in a given fiscal year. [5]
  4. Similarly, depending on the financial structure of a project, the amount released to an NCE in a given fiscal year may exceed the amount of funds released to a corresponding JCE in that same year. In this instance, use a footnote to clarify the difference.
  5. “Aggregate Direct and Indirect Job Creation:” Although regional centers may use different types of methodology to determine job creation, in its last EB-5 Interactive Series on Form I-924A, USCIS stated that the most accurate appears to be the economic impact methodology, which uses inputs of expenditure, revenues, and/or direct jobs to determine aggregate jobs during the I-924A reporting period. While using I-829 approvals to determine job creation is still acceptable and was recommended by the Service in the past, USCIS stated that this methodology may not yield the most accurate data.[6] Therefore, we recommend using or switching over to the economic impact methodology to determine the aggregate number of jobs and engaging an economist to assist with such calculations. A detailed narrative and analysis should be provided with the Form I-924A that identifies the jobs that were created during the fiscal year and the methodology used to estimate the job creation.
  6. The number of I-526s revoked generally does not include I-526 petitions that were withdrawn and then re-filed within the same fiscal year. Rather, this number pertains only to approved petitions revoked by USCIS.

Conclusion

Amid the rapid growth of the EB-5 program, Form I-924A has become a critical tool for USCIS to oversee the program and ensure the continuing eligibility of regional centers. Completing the form can be complicated, but is required. Regional center operators who do not file the form annually may ultimately face the termination of their center.[7]

 



[1] As of Oct. 3, 2016; see generally www.uscis.gov/eb-5centers.

[2] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule, 81 Fed. Reg. 205 (Oct. 24, 2016). Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States. See https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-10-24/pdf/2016-25328.pdf.

[3] Significant changes to a regional center (e.g., a change in management or ownership, if there is a sale, etc.) must also be reported on Form I-924A within 30 days. This post only discusses annual Form I-924A filings.

[4] See http://www.uscis.gov/i-924a for instructions and more information on Form I-924A.

[5] See USCIS’s Q&A page on Form 1-924A at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/questions-and-answers-form-i-924a.

[6] On September 17, 2015, USCIS held a teleconference, “EB-5 Interactive Series: Annual Reporting Requirements for Continued Eligibility within the Regional Center Program, (Form I-924A)”: https://www.uscis.gov/outreach/eb-5-interactive-series-annual-reporting-requirements-continued-eligibility-within-regional-center-program-form-i-924a. A full recording of the teleconference is available at https://iiusa.org/blog/recording-uscis-eb5-interactive-series-teleconference-i924a-annual-reporting-requirements/ (membership required).

[7] To find out more, visit the USCIS’s Q&A page on Form 1-924A at https://www.uscis.gov/forms/questions-and-answers-form-i-924a.

Jane Yue Zhang

Jane Yue Zhang

Jane (Yue) Zhang is an associate in Miller Mayer’s immigration practice group. She focuses on employment-based immigration and specializes in EB-5. Zhang represents EB-5 regional centers in matters related to immigration, corporate and securities law, including designation, compliance, and governance. Previously, Zhang was corporate counsel of a commercial real estate development company. She is a member of the New York and New Jersey State bars, and received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, where she was lead articles editor of Syracuse Law Review. She received her B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.

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