U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published two new forms for regional center designation under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program: Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation, and Form I-956H, Bona Fides of Persons Involved with Regional Center Program. USCIS said that all entities seeking regional center designation must submit these forms in compliance with new program requirements, which began May 14, 2022, and are effective through September 30, 2027. 

Below are highlights of related news:

  • USCIS said it will continue to adjudicate Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, and will adjudicate Form I-829 petitions associated with Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, filed before March 15, 2022, under the applicable eligibility requirements in place before enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. 
  • USCIS said it also has resumed processing of regional center-based Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, filed on or before the sunset of the previous regional center program on June 30, 2021. The agency will adjudicate all Form I-526 petitions filed before March 15, 2022, according to the applicable eligibility requirements at the time such petitions were filed (that is, the eligibility requirements in place before the enactment of the new law). USCIS will continue to process Form I-526 petitions under the “visa availability approach,” “prioritizing those Form I-526 petitions for investors with an available visa or a visa that will be available soon.” USCIS will continue to reject all Form I-526 petitions received on or after July 1, 2021, when the petition indicates that the petitioner’s investment is associated with a regional center. 
  • The filing fee for the I-956 is $17,795. (No, that’s not a typo.) There is no filing fee for the I-956H, but a biometric services fee of $85 per person is required. Filing and biometric service fees are final and nonrefundable, regardless of any action USCIS takes on the application, or if the applicant withdraws the request. USCIS will reject the form if the applicant submits an incorrect fee.
  • The agency released a related Q&A and held a “Listening Session” on April 29, 2022, that received negative reviews.
  • Four senior members of Congress sent a letter on May 9, 2022, to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among other things, the letter calls for DHS to confirm compliance with the new integrity measures required under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 “without the need for a full-scale redesignation of existing regional centers.” The letter recommends a “transition” to avoid administrative burdens for the agency and “unnecessary complications to designated regional centers who have remained in good standing with USCIS and complied with the rules even during the program’s lapse.” The letter says, “Current guidance on the USCIS website requiring new regional center designations for every existing regional center is confusing and causing great concern in the EB-5 stakeholder community. We believe that there should be stakeholder engagement and then guidance on the implementation of the program.” The letter notes that an interpretation requiring new regional center designations would “result in all existing investors without approved conditional permanent residency facing denial.” The letter was signed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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