U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeks comments until January 23, 2023, on two forms associated with the EB-5 Regional Center (RC) program.
USCIS explained that on March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which immediately repealed the former RC program statute. The law also reauthorized a “substantially reformed” RC program, effective May 14, 2022. USCIS said that although it will continue to provide similar services for the newly reformed RC program as it did under the former RC program, the newly authorized program “has a different legal framework and requirements from the previously authorized program.” Consequently, USCIS concluded that Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, associated with the EB-5 program, would not gather sufficient information to adjudicate investor petitions under the new program.
Accordingly, USCIS split the former Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, into two versions: Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, and Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor. USCIS said the two separate forms were intended “to better streamline the adjudication process for Standalone Investors and Regional Center Investors; specifically, Form I-526 will be used by a Standalone Investor and Form
I-526E will be used by an investor pooling their investment with one or more qualified immigrants” under the new RC program to petition for status as an immigrant to the United States. USCIS began accepting the new Forms I-526 and I-526E on July 12, 2022. USCIS said it will continue to adjudicate all Forms I-526 filed before March 15, 2022 (the date of enactment of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022), according to the applicable eligibility requirements at the time the petition was filed.
On June 24, 2022, in Behring v. Mayorkas, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily enjoined USCIS from “treating as deauthorized the previously designated regional centers” including “processing new I-526 petitions from immigrants investing through previously authorized regional centers…just as the agency would do for a newly approved regional center.” On September 1, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Behring approved a settlement between the parties. Under the terms of the settlement, previously designated RCs did not lose their designations as a result of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. USCIS said that as it is working to implement the settlement, if it determines changes to the Forms
I-526 and I-526E are necessary, it will “pursue such changes through either this form revision process or other appropriate mechanism.”