USCIS is moving toward a "consultative process" whereby regional centers offer evidence to economists and other experts hired by the agency; a move that could ameliorate many frustrations among EB-5 visa investors and regional center operators.
That's according to an article just published on EB5info by attorney Bernie Wolfsdorf of the Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group. After speaking to undisclosed sources, Wolfsdorf put together a comprehensive list of EB-5 "happenings" that tie together recent USCIS announcements as well as several unknowns about upcoming adjudication reforms.
And if you already knew about the agency's intention to hire economists and offer "premium processing," those reforms are just the tip of the iceberg.
USCIS is also poised to "issue guidance" regarding TEA designation letters that deal with "territorial issues," according to Wolfsdorf. In addition, the agency is coming up with a way to "accommodate material changes" that would involve filing an amended exemplar I-526 to be "accepted at the I-829 stage."
In his article, Wolfsdorf covers a total of 14 such items, all of which should be of great interest to the EB-5 visa community. Recurring themes emphasized in the text are the necessity of submitting a clear business plan, maintaining consistency throughout all filed documentation, and that the reforms everyone is talking about are coming soon ? very soon.
A "primary source" for U.S. immigration
Bernie Wolfsdorf is no stranger to the EB-5 world or, for that matter, immigration law. As a U.S. immigrant himself, you might even say he understands immigration better than most of us.
Wolfsdorf came to the U.S. when he was 24 after being involved with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. An avid surfer, he left his first American home of Boston for the West Coast after winning a political asylum case.
"I was granted political asylum based on my well-founded fear of persecution in regard to my antiapartheid activities," Wolfsdorf said in a recent interview with Who's Who Legal. "I consider this a badge of honour."
In the 1980s, he established the Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group, which became one of the largest specialty immigration law practices in the country. It now has offices in Los Angeles and New York City.
This year, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) awarded Wolfsdorf its Service Excellence Award "in recognition of his outstanding service, over a period of years, in advancing the mission, development, and value of AILA for its members and the public it serves." Wolfsdorf was President of AILA from 2009 to 2010.
"When I started practicing US immigration law almost 30 years ago, the 'culture of no' was in existence but the government often gave applicants the benefit of the doubt," he told Who's Who Legal. "Now, the attitude is [?] how can we find a reason to deny you and send you home? We now caution clients to be ever so compliant to make sure there is no basis to 'be caught' doing something wrong."
Those words should ring true for anyone who has filed an I-526 or I-829 petition for an EB-5 immigrant investor.
September 8, 2011: A moment of truth?
Although by now the EB-5 community is well aware of anticipated USCIS reforms, Wolfsdorf's article confirms much of what we have already heard.
|Attorney Ron Klasko|
Particularly exciting is an impending meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, in which members of Congress will consider the permanent or temporary extension of the EB-5 program. Wolfsdorf assures us that this is going to happen on September 8.
Attorney Ron Klasko actually alerted us of that development last month, insisting that Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) will take up the issue before lawmakers. The committee will also consider "other investor options," according to Wolfsdorf, like a new EB-6 visa category for immigrant entrepreneurs.
Whether the EB-5 visa's future is certain for the long term or only the next few years, attorneys and regional centers are already welcoming the proposed reforms. And if the rumors are true, serious changes should grace the EB-5 scene in the next few days.