By Carolyn Lee
As announced in numerous USCIS stakeholder calls over the last two years, USCIS has begun site visits to supplement its EB-5 adjudications.
What We Know Now
- Site visits are at the job creating entity (JCE) site, not the regional center or new commercial enterprise site.
- Site visits appear to be in connection with Form I-829 adjudication, not I-924 or I-526 adjudication. Regional center compliance audits, on the other hand, may take place at any time.
- FDNS officer creates a Compliance Review Report after the inquiry, which becomes a part of the record.
- Site inspectors verify information in the petition and existence of the business(es).
- Site inspectors take photographs and interview personnel at the site.
- Site visits are conducted by Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) directorate, not by Investor Program Office (IPO), itself.
- Site visits are part of a larger USCIS verification program aimed at sites employing religious workers, H-1B workers, and L-1 workers.
Site inspectors are focused on job creation and actual employees. This can be a problem if the inquiry is not redirected toward the indirect jobs associated with the project. Note also that the inquiry extends to the JCE’s core business, not just the EB-5 project. So if the JCE’s headquarters is elsewhere as it usually is, the same questions about employees may be asked of the JCE’s main business.
Measures to Prepare
Although the JCE site is often not entirely in the control of an arm’s length regional center or new commercial enterprise fund manager, there are steps that can be taken by all parties involved in raising and using EB-5 capital.
- Correctly capture the JCE site address on the new I-526 petition form.
- Inform all possible parties including tenants, regional center, fund managers and anyone else involved in the EB-5 project that USCIS may be conducting a site visit. An informative fact sheet should be distributed to businesses at the JCE site, as well as to the JCE, itself.
- Train your own employees whoever you are – regional center, fund manager, JCE. If a government official comes knocking on the door, all personnel should have basic information on at least who to call.
- Track filing windows for investors’ Form I-829s filings. This is the likely time for site inspections.
Having experienced EB-5 counsel on hand should help protect the regional center project record and avoid prejudice to investor I-829 petitions. The EB-5 compliance point of contact should be equipped with counsel contact information in his or her “compliance fact sheet” along with other key resources on hand.
Site Visit Preparation is a compliance service module on the Miller Mayer EB-5 Gateway platform. To request more information or to engage Miller Mayer Site Visit Preparation, contact your Miller Mayer attorney or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Miller Mayer EB-5 Gateway: Miller Mayer EB-5 Gateway is a suite of services designed specifically for U.S. projects to maintain compliance under new USCIS audit policies and to prepare for EB-5 legislation to come. Compliance modules, including one for EB-5 Site Visits, enable projects to customize their own level of support. See millermayer.com/gateway for more info or contact email@example.com.