Will we really have EB-5 premium processing this month?
Probably not. At least that's what some EB-5 investor green card attorneys are saying.
Last week, attorney Bernie Wolfsdorf published an article outlining several upcoming changes to the EB-5 visa program, several of which were already made public in statements from USCIS earlier this year. Wolfsdorf's article, however, was very specific. Premium processing, he contends, "will be introduced within weeks."
But other attorneys disagree. Writing on behalf of the Association to Invest in the USA (IIUSA), Robert Divine warns the EB-5 community not to get too excited about the "implications of some recent announcements about rollout of USCIS proposed EB-5 operational enhancements."
As Divine explains, the only "reform" USCIS is planning to implement this month is allowing direct email contact with EB-5 adjudicators to raise issues and ask questions. It seems this fact is confirmed by the minutes of a recent USCIS meeting with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
When it comes to premium processing, USCIS "does not appear to be anywhere close" to implementing it either for regional centers or investors, according to Divine. "Don't hold your breath," he admonishes.
Just like a beer commercial
|Attorney Brandon Meyer|
Brandon Meyer, a California attorney and principal at the Meyer Law Group, agrees with Divine. In response to Wolfsdorf's article, Meyer published a rebuttal of sorts ? a commentary that is decidedly skeptical about any significant changes to the EB-5 visa program occurring in the near future.
Premium processing will ultimately be "like the beer commercial from the 1980's," Meyer says. "Great taste, less filling." He continues:
Although premium processing and shovel ready sound great in theory, I predict that the number of projects that will be able to take advantage of this from the beginning of their project are very small. That is because many project operators do not have their own capital sufficient to make their project 'shovel ready.' They can only do anything with EB-5 capital. Other projects are so large that the timeline would not allow for positioning as shovel ready; this ties back to the first point. Other projects just won't care.
Nor does Meyer put much faith in USCIS' ability to administer premium processing in a way that's helpful to attorneys. "Look for USCIS, when faced with an initial barrage of premium processing applications, to look for creative ways to slow the process down and otherwise stumble their way through with trial and error," he says.
And that House Judiciary Committee Meeting?
Whether or not some incarnation of premium processing rears its head this fall, one prediction from Wolfsdorf and others already appears to be for naught.
Or perhaps just delayed. Both Wolfsdorf and attorney Ron Klasko stated that the House Judiciary Committee would consider an extension of the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program during a hearing on September 8, a discussion which, according to the Judiciary Committee's online minutes, didn't occur.
It does appear, however, that the committee will take up the issue this Wednesday, September 14.
Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) should be a key figure in that discussion, and it will be enlightening to hear his and others' views on EB-5. If the notion of a permanent EB-5 green card program is viewed favorably by House members, IIUSA's push for that measure may be one step closer to becoming reality.