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What is the difference between an EB-5 project with exemplar approval and one without it?

I have attended various EB-5 seminars and this topic pops up. What are the major benefits of a project with exemplar approval? Does this distinction really matter?

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    A project with exemplar approval is generally given deference by USCIS. This is a great advantage for a project because USCIS has already reviewed and approved the business plan, econometric study for indirect job creation, and the project agreements. It should streamline and speed up adjudication of the I-526 petitions by individual investors. USCIS only has to review their personal documentation and source/path of funds evidence.

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    Phuong Le

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An exemplar approved project means that USCIS has already reviewed the project''s offering documents, business plan and economic report, and has deemed them EB-5 compliant. This also indicates that USCIS has reviewed the job creation forecast has considered them reasonable at that time (the project will still have to fulfill the requirements for the underlying inputs though, such as construction expenditures). For investors, it gives them the peace of mind that, absent material change, USCIS should only be reviewing their source of funds when adjudicating the I-526 petition.

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    Diana Levy

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An exemplar approval just means that USCIS has reviewed the project and found it sufficient for I-526 purposes. It may make approval of an individual I-526 easier - at least with respect to the project.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    It depends on the exemplar and which regional centers or projects have filed those exemplars. Many successful regional centers file the exemplar application to get the business side documents approved by the USCIS in addition to having the individual investor I-526 application. Having the business side documents approved for a project is helpful to the investor applications as they could claim the project documents were already reviewed and cleared by USCIS. However, in some instances, the exemplar application and the individual I-526 may be dramatically different, particularly if there has been a change in the business plan due to timing of the project or a change in the capital stack, or some other issues that could lead to USCIS determining that there has been a material change. Thus, beware that not all exemplars are created equal.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    It is important but not critical. It basically says that USCIS has approved the project, provided there are no material changes to the project. So, generally, if there is exemplar approval, the only issue should be proving lawful source of funds and not being inadmissible for "bad guy " stuff. However, many great projects do not have exemplar approvals so narrowing the market to only exemplar approval projects limits your search.

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    Barbara Suri

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Exemplar approval is available for regional centers whose project is "shovel ready," has all of the required documentation and is seeking pre-approval of the project's compliance with EB-5 requirements. This is a sample I-526 petition, but it requires the regional center to submit all of the requisite project documentation at the time the I-924 is filed. Once the exemplar project is approved, changes cannot be made to the project’s business plans, economic reports or offering documents.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    An EB-5 Regional Center with exemplar approval for their project gives them, in the least, bragging rights. That means that the Regional Center has filed an exemplar detailing the project and establishing that it meets the legal requirements for an EB-5 project in terms of job creation methodology, location in a TEA and other criteria. A project with an exemplar would give a prospective investor greater confidence that his or her individual EB-5 petition on Form I-526 subsequently filed would have a much higher likelihood of approval, given the fact that USCIS has already approved an exemplar-based upon the same project.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Exemplar approval means the project has already been vetted by the USCIS with a "sample" petition submitted with the specs of the project, which means EB-5 Petitions filed for that project should be approved (outside of any issues specific to the Investor, etc.).

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    Irina Rostova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    This distinction matters very much. This means that USCIS has already reviewed the specific project's documents and approved the project as one suited for the EB-5 visa program.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Sometimes these cases are processed more quickly but there are no guarantees.

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