USCIS updates Policy Manual with post-RIA guidance for EB-5 petitions -

USCIS updates Policy Manual with post-RIA guidance for EB-5 petitions Staff

By Marta Lillo

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its Policy Manual to include statutory reforms of the EB-5 Regional Center Program made by the Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA). 

The Policy Manual is USCIS’ centralized online repository for immigration policies. It is relevant because immigration officers use it as a guideline when making adjudicatory decisions.

This time, the agency updated Volume 6 of the Manual with guidance issued in October 2022 for regional center and investor petitions, adding and refining information on immigrant policies and procedures.

RIA took effect on March 15, 2022, reforming and reauthorizing the EB-5 Regional Center Program and adding new integrity provisions. Per this legislation, the USCIS, on Oct. 6, 2022, published updated guidance for investor petitions and regional center designation and obligations, which was now added to the Policy Manual.

Updates involve EB-5 investor petition adjudications and regional center applications

The updates involve Part G about investor immigrants in Volume 6 of the Policy Manual. They mainly consist of content relocation, creation of new chapters, and updating information in current chapters.

For example, chapter 2 was renamed “Immigrant Petition Eligibility Requirements” concerning the critical requirements for the immigrant investor category: capital investment, engagement in a new commercial enterprise (NCE); and job creation. The last paragraph of Section B (Comprehensive Business Plan) was also revised, now stating: “As of May 14, 2022, regional centers file a Form I-956F before investors file their Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor (Form I-526E).”

The update also replaced the existing Chapters 3-6 with new chapters and content about Immigrant Petition Adjudication, Regional Center Applications, Project Applications, Direct and Third-Party Promoters, and the creation of Chapter 7 about the Removal of Conditions regarding what an immigrant investor must do to seek removal of the conditions on permanent resident status.

Carolyn Lee, an immigration attorney and founder of Carolyn Lee PLLC, says the updates reflect “a significant rounding out of the published guidance implementing the RIA.”

In case of changes to Chapter 4 about Regional Center Applications, “this includes the I-956 and the I-956G, as well as the I-956Hs for principals. Chapter 4 also includes the regional center governance provisions of Chapter 4, including the new record-keeping requirements,” she explains.

Regarding the updates creating the new Chapter 5 about project applications, Lee adds it’s “all about the I-956F for approval of a particular project, or exemplar to use pre-RIA terminology. The new Chapter 5 is very important as it contains the new TEA definitions, including infrastructure and the new RIA indirect job creation formulas.”

The attorney also states that eliminating former Chapter 6 about Deference is “something we’ll have to watch for, as deference is an essential adjudicative concept maintaining the program’s adjudication integrity.”

Yiran Cheng, Head of Communication of the American Immigrant Investor Alliance (AIIA), comments that regarding the new Chapter 6, the recent update “finally clarifies some of the confusions surrounding the issues of direct & third-party promoters for the EB-5 program, as well as how Form I-956K comes into play. The EB-5 community has long been plagued by the lack of governmental oversight in the investment promotion space, and we at AIIA welcome the level of scrutiny over promoters who work in the industry. We would also urge USCIS to enforce their commitment and publicize the list of registered promoters so as to make sure that investors know they are working with third-party promoters that are fully compliant and in good standing with USCIS rules.”

The USCIS said the updated Policy Manual guidance is immediately effective and supersedes any prior guidance.

These changes will be part of the joint webinar on Oct. 30, 2023, between the USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) about the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and implementation of the RIA.

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