If anything, USCIS' notes from the March 2011 Stakeholder Meeting suggest that the EB-5 Visa Program will continue to grow -- quickly.
With 156 initial EB-5 regional center proposals and 34 proposals to amend already existent regional centers still pending USCIS review, potential immigrant investors certainly aren't lacking for choice. The number of initial regional center proposal filings for Quarter 1 of Fiscal Year 2011 was 116. That's more than the total number of filings for all of Fiscal Year 2010 -- an increase of 105%, to be exact.
Currently, there are 125 approved regional centers.
Other than the numbers, which those in the EB-5 community can expect to be big given the current environment, there were few real bombshells to report. As Suzanne Lazicki explains, the bottom line for stakeholder meeting attendees was this: Follow Instructions.
According to the meeting's powerpoint presentation, the most common reasons for I-526 and I-829 denials were these (anecdotally, at least):
Amount and lawful source of capital investment funds
Job creation (demonstrating that the investment will create the requisite jobs)
Targeted Employment Area (TEA) determinations
Sustaining the capital investment
Job creation (demonstrating that the investment has or will create the requisite jobs within a reasonable period of time)
These explanations for the denials, while very general, show that there is still a disconnect between what some regional centers say they will do in their filings and what actually happens.
Apart from statistical data, USCIS also endeavored to answer several questions during the meeting. Of particular interest to EB-5 immigrant investors and their attorneys should be the issue of regional center-specific I-526/I-829 statistics, which USCIS had said would be available in June of this year.
As it currently stands, USCIS believes such data for I-526 petitions will be available this summer. However, a "delay beyond June" is likely for I-829 data linked to particular EB-5 regional centers.
Knowing which regional centers are consistently having their I-526 and I-829 forms approved or denied could go a long way toward helping investors find a regional center project likely to fulfill the requirements necessary to obtain an EB-5 investor visa (The project database on this website offers I-526/I-829 approval information).
EB-5 investors have a lot at stake. For anyone about to put $500,000 or more into a business venture, any opportunity to perform more due diligence is welcome.