ELIS I526 Update!

July 22nd, 2014

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a stakeholder webinar on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Eastern) to learn more about the usability and functionality of the new USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and the document library.

During this webinar, USCIS will demonstrate this functionality and provide tips on using USCIS ELIS features.

The USCIS ELIS Form I-526 allows customers to:
Submit their petition electronically,
Upload evidence, and
Track case status in real-time.

The USCIS ELIS Document Library allows regional centers to provide immigrant investors in new commercial enterprises with electronic copies of their investment-related documents, including:
Organizational,
Transactional, and
Offering documents.

Form I-526 petitioners can:
Access electronic copies of documents pertaining to their investment,
Attest the documents are true and accurate copies, and
Supplement their electronic or paper-based Form I-526 petition with documents stored in the document library.

To Register for This Session:
The webinar is open to the public, but is limited to the first 100 registrants.

To register:
Email the Public Engagement Division at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov by July 28.
Reference “Document Library” in the subject line.
Provide your full name.
Provide the name of your organization, if applicable.

Once we process your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with additional instructions on how to participate in the webinar.

If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email us at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

We look forward to engaging with you!

2014 EB-5 Business and Investment Exploration Trade Mission announced

July 17th, 2014

Acquiring project funding can be a challenge, especially for new kids on the block. This is where we can help! The 2014 EB-5 Business and Investment Exploration Delegation organized by Artisan Business Group will be traveling to the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Southern China to meet with our established business partners in the region October 5-12, 2014. The cornerstones of our past successes have always been thorough market research, almost 2 decades of business experience with the Chinese, and creating win-win scenarios with our business liaisons by aligning actions with values. Investing in a trade-mission trip gives one high-odds of finding a compatible investment and business partners while also providing a unique opportunity to experience Eastern culture from the comfort of the luxurious hotels we will be residing in while abroad. Our Trade Missions to China will continue to provide American businesses new access and comprehensive insight into the dynamic Chinese market – including its scale, diversity and potential. At the Artisan Business Group we promise expertise in identifying and setting appointments with business partners (including EB-5 emigration agents) that will meet your prospect criteria. We help our clients with developing insight into China’s business culture and social etiquette. We do this to better avoid misunderstandings that could scuttle deals and harm working relationships. Attending a Trade Mission with us also carries the benefits of pre-mission assessment of the Chinese market, in-country briefings, travel logistics, group transportation, interpreters, day-by-day itinerary, and hotel accommodations. For more information about our Explore Chinese Market now! – Join our China Trade Missions, please email us at artisanbusiness@gmail.com or call 217-899-6661 for details. Small group, sign up early! Discount rate for Wright Johnson clients.

CROWD FUNDING IN REAL ESTATE

July 9th, 2014

BY NANCY DAHLBERG
NDAHLBERG@MIAMIHERALD.COM
You can support entrepreneurs’ apps, gadgets, clothing creations, restaurants — you name it — through the exploding phenomenon of “crowdfunding.” But what can you show for your investment? A drawer full of T-shirts, tote bags and other tokens of appreciation.

Not the kind of rewards most serious investors are looking for.

For wealthy funders — so-called “accredited investors” — some crowdfunding platforms offer an ownership piece of the startup venture they are funding. If the concept becomes the next big thing rather than the next big flop, they could reap a giant return.

Increasingly, those wealthy crowdfunders are turning to a tried-and-true investment class they can see, feel and understand: real estate.

Before crowdfunding platforms came along, only a small fraction of the nine million U.S. accredited investors — those with a net worth of at least $1 million or $200,000 in annual income — had participated in private-investment opportunities, said Joanna Schwartz, CEO of EarlyShares.com, a Miami crowdfunding platform aimed at those very investors. Typically, she said, “they didn’t have access to them unless they knew someone [in the deal], and this is especially true in real estate. This really is about giving direct access to investors in ways they never had before.”

Crowdfunding started with wildly popular donation-based websites such as Kickstarter, where supporters can fund enterprises ranging from a company that makes mermaid outfits to a film about Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti. In the past few years, crowdfunding has become increasingly popular for not-for-profit causes and micro-lending.

Equity-based crowdfunding is more complex — and more controversial.

Though the 2012 federal JOBS Act legalized crowdfunding as a means to raise funds for startups and other ventures, the rules governing such transactions have been released in waves. In September 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission modified securities rules to allow advertising of such deals, which opened the door to crowdfunding platforms being used by more-sophisticated, accredited investors. The final rules governing ordinary investors are expected later this year, but an SEC spokesperson declined comment.

EarlyShares, founded in 2011, and dozens of other companies around the country took aim at accredited investors. By the end of last year, the company had launched its first online fund-raising campaign for the Miami-based peer-to-peer boating company Boatsetter, which has already has raised more than $1 million on the platform and is seeking $2.25 million. A dozen more campaigns are underway for technology, film and entertainment companies and other firms around the country.

And now, real estate deals.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that dozens of real-estate crowdfunding sites have popped up in the past year, including Fundrise and Realty Mogul. Already, these companies have raised more than $135 million in debt and equity for real-estate deals, according to The Journal’s calculations. While that is tiny compared to the more than $700 billion market value of publicly traded real-estate investment trusts, it is the fastest-growing category in the crowdfunding arena, according to Crowdnetic, a firm that tracks crowdfunding data.

That doesn’t surprise Schwartz. “Where else can investors go with a few clicks and get a potentially 7 or 9 percent return on a project that they understand? We’re not saying its riskless — nothing is riskless — but they get it,” said Schwartz, who has a background in commercial real estate finance as well as technology and e-commerce. “Real estate is intuitively understood in a much different way than startup companies are. Investors are chasing yield.”

What will probably prime the pump for real-estate campaigns on EarlyShares is its recent exclusive marketing partnership with Property.com. That’s one of the websites run by Miami-based eRealEstate Holdings, which also runs Condo.com, Houses.com and Location.com. With more than 5 million listings combined, they serve as a national real-estate marketplace for listing, searching, buying, selling and renting single-family homes, condos and commercial property.

“We think we can rapidly scale the crowdfunding platform on [Property.com],” said Richard Swerdlow, CEO of eRealEstate Holdings. Property.com now has 500,000 commercial listings and 150,000 monthly visitors.

Swerdlow’s company is shifting Property.com from its current mission as a search site to a one-stop shop for commercial real estate; the partnership with EarlyShares offers a service it wants to feature. Once the platforms are fully integrated later this summer, visitors will see a prominent “Invest” tab, where they can view and potentially participate in crowdfunding-powered real estate deals on the EarlyShares platform.

“We see [crowdfunded real estate development] as a growing market that is only going to get bigger,” said Swerdlow. “We also think there is a big opportunity in Latin America.”

Jay Massirman, a Miami real estate developer and investor in multifamily projects, is testing crowdfunding for an Orlando project, but admits he doesn’t know quite what to expect. “I’ve been very curious about how it will all work,” said Massirman of Rivergate Companies, who has been in real estate for almost 30 years.

Since he offered investment opportunities in an Orlando multifamily apartment community about a month ago on EarlyShares, he has had interest from 50 to 75 qualified investors. He also held a webinar session through EarlyShares to present the project and answer questions. He is trying to raise $2.7 million, with an investor minimum of $100,000.

“It’s bringing a new access point for capital,” said Massirman, who has fielded investor interest from surgeons from Texas, high net worth investors from the Midwest and busy businesspeople from both coasts. “Now with the advent of crowdfunding, you can log on to these sites and find sponsors like myself who have a track record, expertise. … It’s attracting yield-minded people who are looking for vetted investments.”

Atlas Real Estate Partners in New York is also placing a bet on crowdfunding as it develops a 13,353-square-foot mixed-use building in Miami’s Wynwood arts district. The company is using Washington-based Fundrise for its effort. Atlas managing principal Arvind Chary said this is the third deal Atlas has placed on crowdfunding sites, though it is its first Miami property and its first time using Fundrise.

“Crowdfunding is a creative approach to fund-raising, and Wynwood is a very creative area,” said Chary. “It lines up very well with our product.”

Whether crowdfunding platforms become the go-to dealmakers of the future is yet to be seen. New methods for doing business often come with a learning curve — much like the advent of online stock trading in the 1990s, said EarlyShares’ Schwartz.

“If you look back at online stock trading 20 years ago, all of the same kind of early adopter concerns people raised are the same here,” she said. “Will there be fraud? Will people know how do to it? Will they adopt it?’

Still, she expects the time-saving and financial advantages eventually will prevail. “Going direct, there are a lot of fees we are saving for both sides here.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/06/4221997/developers-turn-to-crowdfunding.html#storylink=cpy

USCIS Posts updated processing times

July 9th, 2014

The new processing times are

I924….. 5.4 months
I526….. 13.2 months
I829….. 8.7 months

Kevin Wright Principal of Wright Johnson Presents at Third Annual Southern California EB-5 Conference

July 9th, 2014

This unprecedented conference will feature a broad range of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in the EB-5 industry. The event will feature U.S. Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Darrell Issa as keynote speakers. Kevin Wright will present with CanAM’s Tom Rosenfeld, Wailian’s Linda Ha, John Tishler of Shepard Mullin, and moderated by Elsie Arias of Stone & Grzegorek on the topic of “Does my project work for EB-5?”

The conference will be heald at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach, CA on July 21, 2014 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Click here for more information

BEA to release a new version of RIMS in 2015

July 3rd, 2014

The following is from the BEA regarding the release of RIMS in 2015….

The Bureau of Economic Analysis plans to release in 2015 a modified economic model to replace the original Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II). Cost savings will be realized because the modified model will be updated less frequently.

Much like RIMS II, the modified model will produce regional “multipliers” that can be used in economic impact studies to estimate the total economic impact of a project on a region.
However, the modified model will be updated with new input-output (I-O) data only for benchmark years. That is — years ending in two and seven. The modified model will become available to customers in 2015 and incorporate 2007 benchmark I-O data and 2012 regional economic data.

Last year, as a result of budget sequestration and reduced funding levels, BEA discontinued updates to RIMS II. Orders for RIMS II multipliers, however, have continued to be accepted because the cost of fulfilling these orders is covered by a nominal processing fee.

After investigating ways to continue to meet the analytical needs of our customers but do so at a lower cost to BEA, the bureau decided to make a modified economic model available. Until the modified model is available in 2015, customers may continue to buy RIMS II multipliers.

Developers Revive Condo-Hotel Concept

July 3rd, 2014

Developers revive condo-hotel concept
By: Bloomberg News July 2, 2014 3:48 pm 0

Rainer Viete, who visits Florida from Venezuela about once a month, said he’s buying an apartment at the Hyde Resort & Residences hotel-condo project near Miami so he can order a meal or rent out his apartment when he wants.
“I love the amenities the building will have — a restaurant that can provide room service, a concierge, maintenance, a person that can clean your place, valet parking,” said Viete, 25, who works for his family’s real estate company in Caracas. The $250 million project, scheduled to break ground in August, is already 85 percent sold.
Developers across the U.S. are reviving a concept that collapsed with the real estate crash in 2008: combining condos and hotels. In cities including Miami, New York and Los Angeles, a rebounding hospitality market is joining with rising demand for luxury homes, spurring developers to construct new full-service hotels and ask premium prices for residential units associated with a high-end brand.
“One plus one makes three,” said hotelier Ian Schrager, who is developing Miami Beach’s Edition, a luxury lodging-and-residential tower with Marriott International Inc., and a similar project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with Witkoff Group. “When you add condos to a hotel, the sum of the parts is more than the value of each individual component alone. They complement each other.”
Beverly Hills
Also in Miami, Richard LeFrak, the billionaire chief executive officer of New York-based LeFrak Organization Inc., is developing 1Hotel & Homes South Beach with investor Barry Sternlicht. Demand has been so strong that LeFrak is considering another hotel with condos in Los Angeles, he said in an interview.
In nearby Beverly Hills, developer Beny Alagem is planning two Waldorf Astoria condominium towers, to be built after a luxury hotel is constructed adjacent to the Beverly Hilton. In Santa Monica, the city is evaluating a redevelopment plan under which a 16-story residential tower would be added to the existing Fairmont Miramar Hotel.
“You are seeing more and more condos that are associated with a hotel brand,” said LeFrak. Residents need only “make one phone call. ‘Change the linens, put food in my fridge, get my car ready.’ They don’t have to bother with organizing a lot of things. It’s a big draw.”
Steve Nagelberg, a 60-year-old orthopedic surgeon, said such amenities and a high-end brand name attracted him to the Ritz-Carlton Residences in downtown Los Angeles. He and his wife bought a 4,100-square-foot, three-bedroom unit with panoramic views in early 2012. The project was conceived before the current development wave as part of Anschutz Entertainment Group’s 4 million-square-foot L.A. Live entertainment complex.
Parking cash
“No matter how wealthy you are, you are always considering where to park your cash,” Nagelberg said in a telephone interview. “But when I saw the Ritz-Carlton name, I thought, you can depend on this. I knew this type of company would be here not just a year from now, but 20 years from now.”
For developers, adding condos to a hotel project can attract financing that may not otherwise be available, said Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of business development at Lodging Econometrics Inc., a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based consulting firm.
“Whenever you do mixed-use, different developers are awarded different phases with different time horizons,” Ford said in a telephone interview. “That provides for different types of income with different returns. That can help attract different types of investors, while it also diversifies your revenue stream.”
Lodging comeback
The U.S. hotel industry has recovered since the financial and property-market meltdown. Room rates in the first five months of this year reached a record, according to Jan Freitag, senior vice president at research firm STR Inc. Through May, the average price for a hotel stay nationwide jumped to $113.58 a night, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the Hendersonville, Tennessee-based company.
Even with rising demand, few new hotels — particularly full-service ones with restaurants, bars and other amenities — have been built because construction financing has been difficult to obtain, Ford said. In the two highest lodging segments, 45 hotels were under construction as of December, compared with 130 at the end of 2007, according to STR.
“It’s still hard to finance a pure hotel play,” Ford said. In big cities, “it’s just very expensive to build. So until the hotel is completed and returns money, you can sell condos and finance the hospitality component. The hotel component in turn will provide you with long-term cash flow.”
Different structures
Condo developments with a hotel can be structured in several ways. In some cases, residences may be connected to the lodging segment only so that owners can take advantage of the hotel’s amenities and benefit from the brand’s prestige. That tends to put a premium on unit prices.
In other developments, known as condo-hotels, a portion of the condos are made available to the hotel when owners aren’t using them, producing revenue for residents.
During the last recession, some buyers of condo-hotel projects incorrectly assumed unlimited property-value appreciation and lodging demand that would supply lucrative returns. During the financial-market meltdown, many projects faltered, said Jim Butler, chairman of the global hospitality group at Los Angeles-based law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP.
Stalled projects
Casualties included SB Hotel Associates’ Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The project stalled, and some residential buyers sued after Donald Trump pulled out in 2009. In Chicago, the Shangri-La hotel-condo development came to a halt in 2008 after reaching the 28th floor, and the property’s skeleton was unfinished until New York-based Related Cos. resumed construction in 2012.
“Residential and hotel are two very different and separate businesses,” said Neil Shah, president of Hersha Hospitality Trust, a real estate investment trust that owns hotels including the Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. “The differences require extra caution and expertise. In great times you can leverage them together, but the risk is not just financial but also operationally very significant.”
While financing of condo purchases in hotel projects may be less risky than during the last housing boom, other risks remain, including the potential for overbuilding, according to Butler, the hospitality attorney.
No restraint
“Developers will build whenever they can,” he said. “If construction financing comes in within months, there will be an explosion of new projects. That is what we’ve done for 100 years. The only discipline to be had is from the financing side. Developers won’t show any restraint.”
In Miami, Related Group of Florida has four projects under way that include a condo-hotel component, which will make some of the units available for hotel use when vacant. Much of the buyer demand is coming from South American investors, according to CEO Jorge Perez.
Perez, who had to restructure more than $1.5 billion in debt on mostly vacant Florida condos in 2010, is looking to protect himself from potential future downturns by requiring at least 50 percent equity from buyers.
Beachwalk Miami
The $150 million Beachwalk hotel-residential project in Hallandale Beach, Florida, which Perez expects to be completed in 2015, has 300 residential units. Eighty-four of them are purely for condo use, and the rest will be made available to the hotel when residents aren’t occupying them. The units sold out in two months, with an average price of $500,000, according to Perez.
“The money that is coming in from buyers from Latin America and Europe is unprecedented today,” he said in a telephone interview. “When we talked to some of these potential buyers, a lot of them said they were investors. But they also wanted to be able to enjoy their condos and at the same time maximize their income. That’s why we are creating a hybrid product.”
Viete, the Venezuelan buyer at the Hyde Resort — a Related development with Miami-based Fortune International Group — said the ease of renting out his condo was another reason he was attracted to the project. He also liked the property’s Hyde brand, by luxury entertainment company SBE.
“With that kind of name on top of a great project, you will have many interested people in the future if you want to sell,” he said.
That type of thinking is what makes condo and hotel properties so attractive for real estate investors, LeFrak said.
“If there is a high-end hotel brand associated with the condos, then people’s expectations about the quality of service and reliability are elevated,” he said. “The brand has some clout. And that in turn creates a premium and additional value for the developer.”

Read more: http://finance-commerce.com/2014/07/developers-revive-condo-hotel-concept/#ixzz36PLYqzfb

EB5 Workshop

June 24th, 2014

EB-5 workshop July 10th in Newark, NJ will provide a rare networking opportunity for EB-5 projects and regional centers professionals. The one-day workshop on July 10th in NYC/NJ will provide attendees an opportunity to meet and network with highly experienced emigration agents from China. Those in attendance will include Westlead Capital Group, Wailian Overseas Consulting Group, Join Group and China International Overseas Company.

Register today at http://nyeb5.eventbrite.com/.

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop in NYC/NJ July 10

June 2nd, 2014

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Process Practical Workshop (NYC/NJ) is a one-day workshop presented by Artisan Business Group July 10, 2014 for new and experienced EB-5 regional center executives and project developers only. The goal is simple: to get your project funded! Everything you learn here is about raising EB-5 capital in the ever-changing markets. Venue in NYC/NJ area will be notified to attendees only. Clients of Wright Johnson will receive 20% off discount. Registration at http://www.EB5NewsBlog.org

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Process Practical W…
July 10, 2014 New York City Area(Newalk Airport Hotel) Guest Speakers: Jeff Carr, EconomistClem Turner, Securities Attorney Venue to be an…
View on nyeb5.eventbrite.com

Prepared Remarks of Nicholas Colucci

May 25th, 2014

Prepared Remarks of Nicholas Colucci, Chief, Immigrant Investor Program, USCIS
USCIS投资移民项目主任Nicholas Colucci发言稿

Prepared Remarks of Nicholas Colucci
Nicholas Colucci发言稿

Chief, Immigrant Investor Program
投资移民项目主任
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
美国公民及移民服务局
Association To Invest in the United States (IIUSA)
美国投资协会(IIUSA)
Eb-5 Regional Economic Development Advocacy Conference
EB-5区域经济发展宣传会议
May 8, 2014
2014年5月8日
Washington, D.C.
华盛顿特区
Good afternoon, and thank you to Executive Director Joseph, the Board of Directors, and the entire IIUSA membership for inviting me to your conference today. I read on your website that IIUSA represents more than 170 regional centers, which account for greater than 95 percent of all the capital formation associated with the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5 program), and over 195 associate members of the regional center industry, which include attorneys, broker-dealers, consultants, developers, economists, financial advisors, migration intermediaries, etc. Thus, our engagement with stakeholders such as IIUSA offers a unique opportunity for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reach many of the stakeholders who have an interest in the program. But they’re not the only reason I’m here today. I’m here because I sincerely hope to continue the meaningful dialogue that exists within the EB-5 stakeholder community, of which we’re all a part.
下午好,感谢董事会执行董事Joseph及IIUSA全体成员邀请我参加今天的会议。 我从官方网站上了解到,美国投资协会(IIUSA)代表了170多处区域中心和超过195位区域中心产业会员。在第五类优先就业型移民签证(EB-5项目)相关的所有集资活动中,这些中心的占比达95%以上,而区域中心产业会员则包括律师、经纪交易商、顾问、开发商、经济学家、金融顾问和移民中介机构等。因此,我们联手IIUSA等相关者造就了独有的机遇,使美国公民及移民服务局(USCIS)能够接触到许多对EB-5项目感兴趣的利益相关者。但这并非是我今天在场的唯一原因。我来参加会议,是因为我真诚地希望能够延续我们EB-5利益相关者团体成员之间有意义的对话。
While I plan to provide a number of program-related updates here today, I also want to spend a little time discussing my background, as it has helped to shape how I plan to lead the program.
今天我计划提供项目的一些最新动态,同时也想用些时间来说明我的背景,因为这是促使我形成项目引导方案的因素。
I’ve spent more than 20 years in federal government service, with three different Departments, and this experience has provided me with exposure to many geographic regions, business types, and government and non-government programs. It is through these experiences that I’ve developed a better understanding of the positive impacts of collaborative, constructive engagements.
在过去的20多年内,我曾服务于联邦政府的三个不同部门。这样的工作经历使我了解横跨许多地区、业务类型,以及政府和非政府主导的项目。因此,我更加理解建设性的合作关系能够带来的积极影响。
One such example is when I served at ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. One of ATF’s main goals as the Federal regulator for several industries is to increase each industry’s rate of compliance with Federal laws and regulations. At ATF, I was associated with developing a program that concentrated on a subset of a particular regulated industry, whose rate of compliance had historically trailed that of other members of the industry.
第一例,就是我在美国枪炮及爆裂物管理局(ATF)任职时的深刻体会。ATF 作为面向众多行业的联邦监管机构,其主要目标之一就是提高各行业对联邦法律和法规的合规率。当时,某个特定管制行业分部的合规率历来都不及行业中的其它部门,而我在ATF的工作就是参与建立一个解决此问题的项目。
Specifically, the program called for ATF to do the following three things in an attempt to reach our goal of producing a measurable increase in compliance:
具体而言,该项目要求ATF完成以下三件事情,以便达成明显提高其合规率的目标:
1. increase its proactive interaction with the industry subgroup;
加强其与产业小组之间的积极互动;
2. promote transparency with respect to the types of violations being discovered during audits and the steps the industry could take to avoid these violations in the future; and
ATF对于审计中发现的违规类型,以及业界为避免将来再次发生这些违规行为而需采取的措施,应该提高这两者的透明度;以及
3. dedicate additional resources to auditing these industry members over the next three years.
在未来三年内,投入更多的资源来审计这些行业部门。
The results we achieved were dramatic. However, we would not have been able to achieve these results without the involvement and engagement of the industry. At the end of two years, the compliance rates of this industry subgroup had increased significantly. I can confidently state that this could not have happened had ATF developed a program that did not involve that significant outreach component. Because we had an engaged stakeholder, and because we could have honest conversations between the two organizations, we changed the dynamic of the relationship and worked collaboratively towards achieving a common goal. I hope to establish a similar relationship with our stakeholders across the EB-5 community, as we must work together, and have honest conversations to build a stronger and more vibrant program.
我们最终取得了显著的成绩。 但是,如果没有行业的参与和配合,我们可能无法取得这些成果。两年后,该行业分部的合规率获得明显提高。我可以自信地说,如果ATF建立的项目没有业界的积极配合,可能就不会取得这样的成绩。正是因为有了利益相关者的参与,以及两个组织之间能够展开真诚的对话,我们改变了相互关系的发展动态,并且合力实现了共同的目标。我希望能与EB-5项目的利益相关者建立起类似的关系,因为我们必须通过合作和真诚的对话,才能运转一个更强大更有活力的项目。
A second experience that helped shape how I plan to administer the EB-5 program is an experience I had at FinCEN – the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is the anti-money laundering regulator for US financial institutions. The same week I was appointed FinCEN’s associate director of the Analysis and Liaison Division, the Secretaries of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development held a press conference with the Attorney General to announce the Administration’s “Making Home Affordable” program, which would provide qualifying homeowners a lower interest rate to help them keep their home. They also announced that FinCEN, and specifically the Division that I was leading, would serve to coordinate the Government’s anti-fraud efforts associated with the program.
第二个经历是我在金融犯罪执法局(FinCEN)的工作,这也是促使我形成EB-5项目管理方案的重要因素。FinCEN是美国针对金融机构的反洗钱监管部门。就在我被任命为FinCEN分析与联络部副主任的同一周内,财政部以及住房和城市发展部的部长,与司法部长共同举行了新闻发布会,宣布了政府的“房贷可负担”计划。该计划旨在为符合条件的屋主提供低利率贷款,以帮助他们保有自己的家园。部长们还宣布FinCEN(尤其是我领导的部门)将负责协调与项目相关的反欺诈工作。
Through my work on this program, I learned two important things:
我通过参与项目,了解到重要的两点内容:
• One is the resources that can be brought to bear across the interagency community, particularly in coordination with not-for-profit and other private entities, can be extremely powerful when focused and coordinated; and
可以跨部门共享各种资源,尤其是在联手非盈利机构和其它私营企业时,同心协力的工作将会发挥出巨大作用;以及
• two, that there are very bright individuals out there who spend a lot of time developing ingenious fraud schemes and that they will not hesitate to take advantage of others when they are at their most vulnerable.
有些非常聪明的人花了很多时间设计出巧妙的欺诈阴谋,在别人最脆弱的时候会毫不犹豫地利用别人。
With respect to interagency community coordination, at FinCEN we worked with members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General, the Federal banking regulators, and a host of other Federal, state and local agencies. I met and worked with key players within each of these organizations, and throughout my time at FinCEN, I probably worked with two dozen more Federal agencies. Each agency, as you know, has a specific role and responsibility, and I was able to learn and understand the roles, tools, and sources of information that they could contribute to an effort.
关于跨部门合作,我们在FinCEN时的众多合作伙伴就来自联邦调查局、特勤局、住房和城市发展部监察长办公室、联邦银行监管机构,以及许多其它的联邦、州郡和各类地方机等构。 我曾和这些机构中的主力成员一同工作过,而在我任职于FinCEN的整个期间,我在工作中大概接触了二十多家联邦机构。正如大家知道的那样,每家机构都在发挥着特定的作用和承担相应的责任。我能够了解和领会这些机构在一项工作中的作用、掌握的工具和信息来源。
I have begun to develop this same depth of knowledge in the context of the EB-5 program as many agencies intersect with EB-5, whether it is the Securities and Exchange Commission, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or the Department of Commerce. One of the things I propose to do, and one of the reasons that the program was relocated to Washington, DC, is to facilitate greater interaction among the interagency community. Just as the EB-5 program cannot be successful without your support, we need to build strong partnerships with other Federal agencies who are likewise stakeholders in the program.
我在EB-5项目中也开始同样深有体会,因为有许多机构都与该项目相关,例如证券交易委员会、移民和海关执法局及商务部。我提出建议EB-5项目执行迁往华盛顿特区的一个原因,就是为了便于跨部门合作。正如EB-5项目的成功离不开诸位的支持一样,我们也需要与同样是项目利益相关者的其它联邦机构建立起强有力的合作伙伴关系。
Now, with respect to those out there who take advantage of others: I learned quickly at FinCEN that where there is money, there will be fraudsters. In the context of mortgage fraud, I saw families who were struggling to save their homes only to be victimized by someone, usually a part of an organized group, who claimed they could help families remain in their home for an upfront fee of around $3,000. Of course, after the money was paid, help was not provided.
现在,对于总会利用别人的那些人,我是这样认为的:我在FinCEN很快就意识到只要是有金钱的地方,就会出现欺诈者。就抵押贷款欺诈而言,我见过许多家庭都在极力挽救自己的家园,但到头来还是被人蒙蔽了。这些欺诈者通常都是组织团伙的一员,声称他们可以帮助困难家庭保住自己的房屋,但他们需要收取约3,000美元的前期费用。当然,在困难家庭在支付费用后,并未取得任何帮助。
During my five years at FinCEN, we worked with law enforcement, regulators, and industry to combat not only mortgage fraud, but many other types of fraud including, but not limited to income tax refund fraud, health care fraud, and fraud against senior citizens. The one consistent theme is that organized groups follow the money, and when one source would dry up they would develop a fairly sophisticated scheme to go after the next one.
我在FinCEN工作了五年,期间我们曾和执法、监管及行业部门联手打击抵押贷款欺诈,以及许多其它类型的欺诈活动,包括但不限于所得税退税诈骗、医疗欺诈行为和针对老年人的诈骗行为。金钱是团伙欺诈的共同目标。当一个目标被骗光所有财产后,这些团伙就会想出另一个巧妙的骗局来转移目标。
Given the amounts of monies involved in the projects undertaken in the EB-5 program, fraud is something against which we must all be vigilant. USCIS cannot do this on our own. Many times, you will be in the position to hear or see something suspicious or “too good to be true” before we do. In these cases, I ask that you share this information with us through our immigrant investor mailbox at USCIS.ImmigrantInvestorProgram@uscis.dhs.gov. When fraud does occur, as you know, the entire program suffers, so it is imperative to all of us to maintain and strengthen the integrity of the program.
鉴于EB-5项目涉及的款项金额,我们必须对可能的欺诈行为提高警惕。USCIS无法独立完成这项工作。很多时候,你们可以会比我们更先接触到可疑的事项,或是听到或看到一些“令人难以置信的好事”。在此类情况下,请大家务必与我们共享这些信息,并通过投资移民邮箱USCIS.ImmigrantInvestorProgram@uscis.dhs.gov联系我们。相信大家都明白,发生欺诈行为会使整个项目都受到影响,所以我们首先必须维护和加强项目的诚信度。
So, to summarize, the three things from my past experience I hope to bring to the program include:
因此,根据我以往的工作经验,我希望移民项目能够确保以下三件事情:
• an active and honest dialogue with our stakeholders;
与我们的利益相关者展开积极坦诚的对话;
• a coordinated effort within the interagency community; and
确保跨部门合作;以及
• with the assistance of our stakeholders, to guard against fraud and other transgressions that damage the integrity of the program.
在利益相关者的协助下,谨防有损项目诚信度的欺诈行为和违法行为。
Now, I’d like to take the remainder of the time to provide a few program updates. As I mentioned at my first stakeholder engagement in February, I plan to concentrate my time primarily in three areas:
接下来,我想利用剩余时间与大家分享项目的一些最新动态。正如我在2月份第一次参加利益相关者会议时所说的那样,我计划将自己的时间主要用在三个方面:
• building the foundation;
设立基金会;
• customer service and transparency;
确保客户服务和透明度;
• and performance and predictability.
确保项目绩效和可预见性。
With respect to building the foundation, by the end of this month, we hope to have upwards of 75 staff on board. This does not include those individuals from the Office of Chief Counsel and Fraud Detection and National Security, who work with the program. This is an almost 40 percent increase from where we were at the end of February. We also just had a few job announcements close, for experienced and entry-level adjudicators. It remains our goal to be at or exceed 100 staff members by the end of the fiscal year.
关于设立基金会,我们希望截至本月底将拥有75名以上工作人员。这当中并不包括参与项目的首席顾问办公室,以及欺诈检测与国家安全部门的相关人员。上述人数比2月底增加了近40%。我们近期也有一些岗位通告,主要面向经验丰富和刚入行的评定员。我们的目标仍是在本财年末招募到100名或更多的工作人员。
In terms of training, we are striving to ensure our staff continues to participate in professional development opportunities. In fact, just last week we provided our staff with a 3-hour block of instruction from the Securities and Exchange Commission. We are also providing two additional training courses in the next month or so – one on business organizations and documents, such as subscription agreements and private placement memorandums, and another on international banking and money laundering. Finally, we are customizing a decision writing course to assist our adjudicators and economists in drafting clear and concise requests for evidence (RFE) and decision letters. All of this will serve to expand the depth and breadth of the knowledge of our workforce and continue to strengthen the program.
在培训方面,我们努力确保工作人员能够持续拥有职业发展机会。 事实上,我们在上周为工作人员提供了长达3个小时的证券交易委员会指导培训。我们还将在下个月左右提供两门额外的培训课程—一是关于商业组织和文档,例如认购协议和募股说明书,另一门课程与国际银行业和洗钱有关。此外,我们还在定制一门决策写作课程,以协助我们的评定员和经济学家拟定清晰简明的补件通知(RFE)和决策信。所有这些安排都将有助于扩展工作团队知识面的深度和广度,以及持续增强项目的执行力。
With respect to customer service and transparency, we’ve spent a significant amount of time concentrating on this area in the last month or so. Specifically, we’ve begun to update the website each month with current processing times for each of the form types and we will continue to do this on a monthly basis.
关于客户服务和透明度,我们在过去一个月左右的时间内,一直在集中探讨这方面的问题。具体来说,我们已经开始每月更新各种申请类型的当前处理时间,今后的每个月也会继续进行此类操作。
We’ve also recently created a customer service team to respond to inquiries that come to us via the immigrant investor mailbox and service request management tickets, which stakeholders can create themselves online or have created for them by our customer help line. I am proud to state we are ahead of agency standards in our responses to these inquiries.
我们最近还成立了客服团队,以便回应客户通过投资移民邮箱和服务请求管理单提出的咨询问题。利益相关者可以在线自行创建服务请求管理单,或是由我们的客户支持热线代为办理。我可以很自豪地表示,我们的客户咨询响应工作已经超出了国家机构的标准。
Finally, we are also seeking a new platform to receive and respond to customer service inquiries, as the mailbox does not lend itself to monitoring for trend and other types of analysis. With this type of information, I’m confident that we will be better able to determine what type of updates and suggestions we can provide to our stakeholders proactively, in an effort to reduce the number of inquiries we receive, thus freeing up more time to adjudicate cases, while providing the best possible service to our customers.
最后,由于邮箱不便用于趋势监测和其它类型的分析工作,我们正在寻求便于接收和响应客服咨询的新平台。我相信,这些信息将使我们能够更好地确定可为利益相关者积极提供的更新资讯和建议,以此减少我们将会收到的客户咨询数量,从而将更多的时间用于评定移民申请,同时为客户提供最好的服务。
We recently held our second stakeholder engagement since the end of February. At this engagement we asked stakeholders to express their thoughts and input regarding potential EB-5 regulatory changes for USCIS to consider. More than 700 individuals participated and we were able to hear thoughts and feedback from a number of them. We also invited stakeholders to express their ideas and thoughts via a new online tool, called the USCIS Idea Community. More than two dozen individuals provided comments and greater than 200 votes were cast on these comments. We would like to thank those shared their thoughts through the Idea Community.
自2月底以来,我们最近又举行了第二次利益相关者会议。 在此次会议上,我们邀请利益相关者就关于EB-5监管法规的可能改变,提出自己的看法和建议以供参考。共有700多人参加了会议,我们也听到了其中一些人的看法和信息反馈。此外,我们还邀请利益相关者通过名为USCIS创意社区的全新在线工具来表达自己的意见和看法 。有20多名人士提出了自己的建议,200多名人士对这些意见进行了投票。我们在此感谢他们通过创意社区来分享意见。
Finally, in an effort to increase transparency, we are beginning to frame out an annual report beginning in fiscal year 14. My hope is to provide the report sometime around the end of this calendar year.
最后,为了提高操作的透明度,我们也将从2014财年起开始提出年度报告。我希望能够在本历年截止期间提出报告。
Now, to address performance and predictability. As I announced in February, I expected to start seeing reduced processing times for regional center applications. In fact, we are starting to see them trend this way. January’s processing time for Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Program, was 12 months, and the most recent report, which is March, indicated it has been reduced to around 10 and a half. It is clear that our economists are becoming more efficient and I expect we will see additional improvements in processing times in the coming months.
现在,我来谈一下项目绩效和可预见性。 我在2月份就表示,预计区域中心申请的处理时间将开始缩短。事实上,我们已经看到了这种趋势。1月份的I-924申请(根据投资移民项目提出的区域中心申请)处理时间为12个月,而最近3月份的同类申请处理时间已经减少到约10个半月。显然,我们的经济学家工作效率变得更高效了,预计我们在未来数月内还将看到处理时间的更多改善之处。
Similarly, we are seeing progress in the area of Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. Our processing time, as you may have seen in our website, has been reduced to about 9 months from more than 11 in January. As you may recall, Form I-829 will be worked in the California Service Center for the remainder of the fiscal year. We will begin to transition this workload to the Immigrant Investor Program Office in Washington, D.C. in July, with a complete handover expected to take place on October 1.
同样,我们看到I-829申请(去除条件式投资身份申请)的处理时间也在缩短。你们可能已经在我们的网站上注意到,此类申请的处理时间已经从1月份执行的11个月减少到了9个月。你们可能还会记得,本财年剩余期间的I-829申请都将移交到加州服务中心进行处理。7月份,我们会将这些工作量转移到华盛顿特区的投资移民项目办公室,预计10月1日将完成所有交接工作。
The news is not as good for FormI-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. In January, we were around 10 months, and the latest data I have through March indicates we are at a little over 13 months. However, I believe we will soon begin to make progress in this workload as well. In recent weeks we’ve hired a number of adjudicators and we are in the process of hiring another round. We’ve also taken steps to increase the efficiency of our training program for new adjudicators who have previous USCIS experience. In fact, we’ve now begun to certify experienced adjudicators to work on 526s in a matter for 4 to 6 weeks, whereas in the past, it took longer than 2 months.
I-526申请(外国企业家移民申请)的处理时间并不令人振奋。今年1月份执行的此类申请处理时间约为10个月,我在3月份获知的最新数据表明其相应的处理时间略超过13个月。但是,我相信我们也会很快在这方面取得工作进展。最近几周内,我们一直在招募评定员,新一轮的招募活动也在进行。对于此前有过USCIS工作经验的新评定员,我们也在采取措施来提高相应培训项目的运作效率。事实上,我们现在已经证实有经验的评定员可以在4-6周内就处理完一份526申请,而在以往这需要2个月以上才能完成。
While ensuring quality, we are working diligently to have our actions equal or exceed the number of receipts each week, and this month I have set an office-wide goal to do this. I can assure you that we are committed to achieving additional efficiencies within the I-526 work and that our staff are aware of the fact that the number of pending petitions equals billions of dollars that will potentially be invested in in the American economy and create tens of thousands of jobs for qualified American workers. They are also aware that this means that thousands of families are checking their mailboxes each day waiting to see if their petition has been approved so they can participate in the American dream. Please know we take our responsibility seriously and we are working with a sense of urgency to move through these petitions.
我们在保证工作质量的同时,也极力使相应工作进度赶上或超过每周接收的申请书数量。这个月,我已经为办公室的全体工作人员设定了该工作目标。我向大家保证,我们将进一步提高处理I-526申请的工作效率。我们的工作人员也都明白,未决请愿书的数量等同于可能的几十亿美元投资于美国经济市场,这将为符合条件的美国人创造出成千上万的就业机会。他们同时也意识到,这意味着成千上万的家庭每天都会查看邮箱,确认移民申请是否已经通过审批,以使他们能够有机会实现美国梦。请务必认识到我们持有极其认真的工作态度,而且在加急处理这些移民请愿书。
Finally, before I close, one of the other things we are doing to help increase productivity and predictability is analyzing the RFEs we’ve issued. By sharing this information with all of you, likely via our annual report, our hope is that it will assist you in avoiding potential RFEs as you assemble new applications and petitions.
最后,在结束讲话之前,我要告诉大家我们正在分析已经签发的RFE通知,以便于提高移民项目的运作效率和可预见性。我与大家在此或通过年度报告分享这些信息,就是希望当你们准备提出新的申请和请愿书时,这些信息能够帮助你们有效避免再收到RFE通知。
I’d like to share one such topic to begin this dialogue. As you know, USCIS has and will continue to rely on a variety of economic models and reasonable methodologies (like feasibility studies) to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a project of a job creating entity will create a sufficient number of indirect jobs for the immigrant investors in that project. USCIS currently reviews economic impact analyses that use the results of economic modeling software such as IMPLAN, REMI, and REDYN to establish the number of indirect jobs created by the job creating entity. And while USCIS recognizes that these modeling platforms are valid economic modeling systems for estimating job creation, as you know, the burden of proof is on the applicant or petitioner to clearly explain the inputs used in the model and to demonstrate the mechanism of job creation.
在继续谈话之前,我想与大家探讨一个话题。大家知道,USCIS已经并将继续依靠各种经济模型和合理的方法(例如可行性研究),来有力地证明工作创造实体的某一项目将可为该项目中的移民投资者创造出充足的间接就业机会。目前,USCIS利用IMPLAN、REMI和REDYN等经济模型软件的模拟结果,通过审查经济影响分析内容来确定工作创造实体带来的间接就业岗位数量。虽然USCIS认识到这些模型平台是适于估算工作创造结果的有效经济模型系统,但大家知道,移民申请人或请愿人负有举证责任,应该具体说明模型中的各项资源投入和展示工作创造的机制。
Please note that jobs with a duration of less than 24 months are not eligible to be counted for EB-5 purposes. Nor are jobs from transactional expenses, for example attorney’s fees for closing costs. Also, please note that transfers or transfer payments are not eligible expenses for job creation. Transfer payments like taxes, insurance premiums, permits and fees are classified by economists as redistributions and not activities that create output. So, while EB-5 investor funds can be used to pay all legitimate business expenses, not all business expenses can be used in job creation calculations. Therefore, the economic models should provide an explanation of the inputs used and show that ineligible expenses and transfers are not included in job creation calculations.
注意,持续时间不足24个月的工作机会,将被视为不符合EB-5投资的要求。同样,交易费用,例如由于成交而产生的律师费,带来的工作机会也被视为不符合投资要求。此外,还应注意转让或转移支付也是不符合工作创造要求的费用开支。经济学家将税款、保险费、许可费及相关费用等转移支付归类为重新分配,而不是能够创造经济输出的活动。所以,虽然EB-5投资者的资金可用来支付所有的合法运营费用,但并非所有的企业支出都可视为工作创造的资金投入。因此,我们的经济模型应该说明投入的各项费用,并表明不符合要求的费用支出和转移款项不会被视为工作创造的资金投入。
One common reason for an RFE relating to the economic modeling analysis relates to direct versus indirect jobs. As you know, USCIS regulations refer to direct jobs as those at the new commercial enterprise; however, economic models distinguish direct job and indirect jobs differently. With respect to the economic models, direct jobs refer to jobs directly related to the project. For example, construction jobs for a project are often considered “direct jobs” in the economic analysis and may be credited toward the EB-5 requirement if the jobs are expected to last at least 2 years.
经济模型分析与直接及间接就业机会息息相关,是导致签发RFE通知的一个常见因素。大家知道,USCIS法规将直接就业机会定义为新型商业企业中的就业机会;然而,经济模型明确区分直接就业机会和间接就业机会。就经济模型而言,直接就业机会是指与项目直接相关的就业机会。例如,经济分析通常将一个项目的建设工作视为“直接就业机会”;如果这些就业机会预计将至少持续2年,那么就可能被视为符合EB-5投资的要求。
Any economic analysis based upon models such as IMPLAN, REMI, or REDYN must be sufficiently transparent to allow USCIS to distinguish between the model’s calculation of direct and indirect jobs. If the model used in an economic impact analysis aggregates direct and indirect jobs, the economist preparing the analysis for the regional center should demonstrate how the model’s result can be disaggregated into its direct and indirect jobs components. This may involve running the model twice: once to calculate direct effects and once to calculate the indirect and induced effects. In most cases a narrative by the economist preparing the analysis that explains how direct and indirect jobs can be derived from the aggregate job total is sufficient.
基于IMPLAN、REMI或REDYN等模型的任何经济分析都必须足够透明化,以便USCIS能够明确区分直接/间接就业机会的模型计算结果。如果经济影响分析中使用的模型将直接/间接就业机会合计起来,那么为区域中心编制分析结果的经济学家应该演示如何才能将模型结果分解成对应直接就业机会和间接就业机会的不同组成部分。这可能需要使模式运行两次:一次用于计算直接效应,一处用于计算间接效应和诱发效应。在多数情况下,让编制分析结果的经济学家说明应该如何从合计的工作效应中分解出直接/间接就业机会的相关结果就足够了。
Additionally, the economist preparing the analysis for the regional center should provide the number of direct and indirect jobs created that is attributable to each of the model’s inputs. For example, differentiating the jobs created from construction expenditures from those created from the ongoing operations of the property constructed. In addition, USCIS recognizes that indirect jobs that are estimated through use of an economic model and are located outside of the geographical boundaries of a regional center may qualify if the economic methodology is reasonable.
此外,编制区域中心分析结果的经济学家还应提供所创造的直接/间接就业岗位数量,这些岗位都可被视为直接/间接就业机会的各自模型输入项。例如,区分建筑支出产生的就业机会,以及由建成的物业持续经营而产生的就业机会。此外,USCIS认同如果所用的经济方法是合理的,那么通过使用经济模型估算出的间接就业机会,以及处于区域中心地理范围之外的间接就业机会,都可被视为符合投资要求。
I hope that by sharing this example, which will be included with the rest of my comments on our website, we can begin to inform you how we evaluate economic models and the steps that you can take to make the models more transparent so that an RFE can be avoided, which will obviously increase our efficiency for that particular application or petition, as well as others in line behind it.
上述示例将成为我们网站上的评论内容之一。我希望通过分享这个例子,大家可以逐步了解我们评估经济模型的方式,以及你们可以采取一些步骤使模型操作更加透明化,以避免收到RFE通知。对于特定的申请或请愿书以及其它待处理的移民申请,这些方法也可以显著提高我们的工作效率。
Finally, in closing, I want to again express my appreciation for the invitation to speak to you today. I very much look forward to our dialogue in the coming months and I encourage all of you to provide us with ongoing constructive feedback with respect to how we are administering the program. We can only continue to improve the program so long as you, as our stakeholders, are willing to share your thoughts and concerns with us and we can have that open and honest dialogue I discussed at the beginning of my comments. EB-5 is not simply a government or USCIS program, it is a program of the entire EB-5 stakeholder community and it is through our combined efforts that the program provides the greatest possible benefit to the U.S. economy, job-seekers, and the immigrant entrepreneurs and investors. Thank you all for your time and attention today.
最后,在即将结束讲话之际,我想再次感谢大家给我在此发言的机会。我非常期待在未来几个月内能与你们进行对话,同时也希望在我们的项目管理方面,大家可以不断地提出有建设性的反馈意见。只要你们这些利益相关者愿意与我们分享看法和意见,我们就能持续改善项目运作的成果。正如我一开始提到的,我们相互之间也可以进行开诚布公的对话。EB-5投资不只是政府或USCIS支持的一个项目,也是所有EB-5利益相关者的项目。只有通过大家的共同努力,这个项目才能为美国经济、求职者、移民企业家和投资者带来最大的效益。感谢大家今天在此付出的宝贵时间和关注!