September 3, 2022
After the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 went into effect in March 2022, USCIS announced that all previously approved regional centres (i.e. those authorized by USCIS before the enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022) were categorically deauthorized.
Leading EB-5 Regional Centre operators, along with the EB-5 trade organization Invest in the USA (IIUSA) had collectively filed a lawsuit against USCIS. The Court determined that USCIS’ action almost certainly committed legal error and would have severely harmed the EB-5 industry while leaving EB-5 investors in limbo.
On August 24, 2022, EB-5 stakeholders agreed to a settlement agreement with the USCIS that protects EB-5 investors and clarifies the designation of previously approved regional centres.
The settlement means previously approved regional centres can continue to operate as approved — but they must submit a Form I-956 as an amendment by December 29, 2022. For regional centre investors, the settlement means they can file their I-526E petitions almost immediately.
The settlement also provides these terms:
- When filing a Form I-956, a regional centre must show evidence of policies and procedures that confirm compliance with the Reform and Integrity Act
- If a regional centre is filing a Form I-956, it can apply to have its geographic range expanded
- Pre-RIA (grandfathered) investors associated with regional centres that choose not to file an I-956 can still be adjudicated
The key stipulations of the settlement are as follows:
- Previously authorized regional centres retain their authorization.
- Previously authorized regional centres must file a Form I-956 by December 29, 2022, along with the filing fee to maintain authorization.
- Previously authorized regional centres need not wait for approval of their Form I-956 and may immediately file their Form I-956F (commonly known as an exemplar).
- If, after filing a Form I-956F, a regional centre does not receive a formal receipt notice within ten (10) calendar days of delivery to USCIS, an investor may use other forms of proof of the I-956F filing in their I-526E petition, such as a lock box receipt, cashed check, or credit card charge provided by the regional centre to the investor.
While all parties involved have agreed to the settlement, it is not a final settlement until approved by the Court.