usual disclaimer that I do not speak mandarin and the translation and transcription was done with outside vendors. I do not represent that either is 100% accurate. The highlighted sections represent sections that were inaudible to the transcriber….
The conference call is now being recorded.
Coordinator: This is the coordinator. Please continue to hold. We will begin in approximately five minutes. Please continue to hold for the conference. Thank you for holding. If you will continue to hold the conference will begin in just a couple of minutes. Again, please continue to hold for the conference. This is the coordinator, please continue to hold we will begin in just a few more minutes. Please continue to hold. Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. During the question and answer session please press star and 1 on your touch tone phone. I will turn today’s meeting over to Mr. Carlos Munoz. You may go ahead, sir.
我是本次会议的协调员，请继续保持通话，不要挂断。我们的会议将在5分钟之后开始。请继续保持此通话。感谢大家一直在线。如果大家不挂断电话，会议将会在几分钟之后开始。再次，请继续保持此通话，不要挂断。我是本次会议的协调员，请继续保持通话，我们将会在几分钟之后进行。请继续保持通话。感谢您的配合，欢迎再次回来。现在所有的参会者都是接听模式。在稍后的问题解答环节，请按*号键和1号键。下面将由Carlos Munoz先生讲话，Carlos Munoz先生，请！
Carlos Munoz: Thank you so much Mia and hello everyone. Thank you for joining today’s teleconference on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program. Again, my name is Carlos Munoz from the USCIS Public Engagement division. And joining me today are colleagues from the USCIS Immigrant Investor program office, our field operations director, and other offices in USCIS. I would like to recognize our main speakers for today’s engagement. We have Dan Renaud, the Deputy Associate Director of the USCIS Field Operations Directorate, Nicholas Colucci, the Chief of the Immigrant Investor Program Office, and Robert Cox, the Deputy Chief of the Program Office.
非常谢谢Mia。大家好。感谢大家参加本次就EB-5移民投资项目的电话会议。再次自我介绍一下，我是来自移民局公众参与部门的Carols Munoz。今天和我一起参加会议的有：移民局移民投资项目办公室的同事们,我们现场运营总监，USCIS的其他办公室。我想跟大家介绍一下本次内容的主要发言者。他们是：Dan Renaud – 移民局现场运作部副总监； Nicholas Colucci – 移民投资项目办公室主任；以及Robert Cox – 移民投资项目办公室副主任。
Before we get started we have a few quick admin reminders. We will start today’s engagement with opening remarks followed by a presentation with updates on the EB-5 Program Office. We will then have a questions and answers session. As the operator indicated, all lines are currently in listen-only mode. We will allow ample time for questions and answers at the end of the presentations. Now, we received a large number of questions in advance of today’s engagement. Our speakers make every effort to incorporate responses to the most common questions in their presentation and we will also address a few additional questions at the end of their remarks. We would like to remind all participants that we cannot address case or fact-specific questions on our engagement. If you are a staff of the member of Congress you are welcome to listen to today’s call but we kindly ask that you please contact the USCIS Office of the State of Affairs for any briefing requests and/or case-specific matters. Also, we will remind everyone that the information provided by USCIS during this phone call is not intended for media attribution. If there are members of the media joining us today you are welcome to listen, but we ask that you please call the USCIS press office at (202) 272-1200. Again, (202) 272-1200 if you need additional information or for on-the-record comments. And now I will turn the call over to my colleague, Dan Renaud, from our Field Operations Directorate. We will begin today’s presentation.
在本次会议开始之前，我们有几点简短提醒。今天的会议将以简短的开场致辞开始，接下来是进一步讲述EB-5项目办公室的更新信息，然后我们会有一个解疑问答环节。正如刚才协调员提到的，所有参与者都是处于接听模式。在讲解之后，我们会留出充足的时间为大家解答疑问。在本次会议之前，我们已经收到了大量的提问。我们的主讲嘉宾将会就他们在讲解中最常见的问题进行汇总并答复，同时，我们也将在他们讲解之后将解决更多的问题。我们想提醒所有的参会者，在本次会议中，我们无法解决任何有关具体情况的问题。如果您是国会议员，欢迎您参加今天的电话会议。但是如果有关简述要求或者具体情况的问题,请联系移民局事物状态办公室。同时,我们提醒大家,在本次电话会议中，移民局提供的任何信息不能用于媒体报道。今天如果有媒体的成员加入我们，欢迎您的参加。但是如果您需要其他更多的信息或者做记录所需，请致电移民局新闻办公室，电话是(202)272 – 202。再次强调，如果您需要任何其他的信息或者做记录所需，请致电移民局新闻办公室，电话是(202)272 – 202。接下来将由我的同事：来自现场运作部的Dan Renaud 开始进行讲解。
Dan Renaud: Thank you, Carlos. Good afternoon, my name is Daniel Renaud and I am the Deputy Associate Director for Field Operations with USCIS. Until recently I was the acting chief of the investor program office. Today I am pleased to welcome you to the first in a new series of quarterly engagements with EB-5 stakeholders. Our goal today is to provide updates on the transition of the investor program from California to headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss the May 30, 2013, calls of memorandum, and to invite comment and discussion related to program rules. The agency’s goal is to administer an accessible and secure immigrant investor program that stimulates the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The USCIS has taken steps over the past few years to enhance the EB-5 program to increase transparency and efficiency while ensuring security and integrity. The USCIS has realigned the EB-5 program at the headquarters program office with an SES level leader dedicated exclusively to the EB-5 workload. We have infused experienced professionals in the areas of corporate law, immigration law, business, and economics into the process to more effectively manage the complex caseload. We have published a comprehensive policy memorandum to improve consistency and clarity and we have improved vetting and collaboration with federal partners.
谢谢Carlos。下午好，我是移民局现场运作部副总监Daniel Renaud 。不久之前我是投资项目办公室的代理主任。今天我很高兴欢迎您和EB-5项目的申请者们参加首次新季度会议。今天我们的目标是介绍从加州到华盛顿总部投资项目的最新搬迁情况，讨论2013年5月30号电话会议备忘录，讨论并听取关于本项目规则的意见。本机构的目标是管理一个可运作而且安全的移民投资项目，通过外国投资者创造的就业机会和资本投资，进而刺激美国经济。在过去的几年里了，移民局不断采取措施加强EB5项目，在确保安全性和整体性的同时，提高透明度和工作效率。在项目办公室总部，移民局已与专门致力于EB-5工作的SES级别领导人进行EB-5项目重组。我们有在商法、移民法、商业和经济学等领域的资深专业人士，会更有效地管理复杂的案例。我们已经公布全面的政策备忘录，以提高一致性和清晰度，同时也加强了与联邦合作伙伴的审核效率和合作。
Progress has been made but there is much yet to accomplish. Processing times need to be reduced to make the program more effective and accessible for bonafide projects. Filing options need to be improved to reduce the amount of paper required to support each petition. Regulations need to be updated to align with statutes and clarified to improve initial filings. Customer service needs to be improved to ensure visibility into the process and the confidence in our processing times and our decisions. And lastly, stakeholder input needs to be solicited more frequently to ensure the program continues to meet the objectives of the statute. To that end, this event kicks off a series of quarterly engagements on EB-5 issues related to policy, procedure, and guidance.
EB-5项目已经有很多进步，但是仍需完善。需要进一步缩短处理时间，才能使此项目更加有效，从而获取更多有诚意的项目。递案选项有待改善，这样在每个申请书中需要用来辅证的纸张数量才能减少。规则需要更新、与法律保持一致，或者进一步阐述，改进初始递案。客户服务需要改善，确保全过程的可视性和对我们处理进度和决策的信任度。最后，需要经常听取利益攸关者意见，以保证此项目符合法律要求。至此，今天打开了关于EB-5项目的一系列季度会议的序幕，当中会讨论的相关问题 – 政策、程序和指引等都一一解决。
As I said, progress has been made but there is a substantial amount yet to be accomplished. I am pleased today to introduce the new chief of the USCIS immigrant investor program, Nick Colucci. Nick comes to USCIS from the Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes enforcement network. Nick has extensive experience as a manager and leader with both treasury as well as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives where his work implementing pawnbroker initiative in particular demonstrated his ability to work collaboratively and build coalitions with stakeholder groups and law enforcement agencies. And since then his work has established a new organization to provide bank security acts in-house was highlighted as emblematic of his ability to build coalitions, manage under stress, and manage people through changing priorities and realignment of positions. Nick brings the skills, experience, and the drive to lead the investor program at USCIS. So I would like to turn it over to Nick for his comments.
正如刚刚提到的，虽然该项目已经有了进步，但是仍有大量的工作需要完善。今天我很荣幸向大家介绍移民局投资移民项目的新负责人-Nick Colucci。Nick来移民局工作之前，在美国财政部金融犯罪执法网络任职。 作为一名管理者和领导者，Nick在财务、酒类、烟草、枪支和炸药等方面都有非常丰富的经验，特别是主动完善典当行业，这展示了他良好的协作能力，能够与申请团队和执法机构友好合作。自此，他的工作等于建立了一个新的组织机构，确保了银行室内安全，这更突出了他在建立联盟、克服压力、通过改变优先顺序和职位调整进行管理人员方面的能力。Nick将技能、经验和动力来领导移民局的投资移民项目。所以我想首先让Nick跟大家进行讲解。
Nick Colucci: Thanks Dan, and good afternoon everyone. As Dan mentioned I came to USCIS from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, an agency within the Department of Treasury. At FinCEN, where I served for five years, I led a division of analysts and federal agents who worked closely with our counterparts in law enforcement and the intelligence community to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and fraud. During this time I learned a tremendous amount about the interagency community and I expect it will assist me greatly in my duties as the chief of the immigrant investor program office. Coming to the office I have concentrated my time on taking a fresh look at the program and would like to share several updates.
First, as of February 14, 2014, all form I-924 applications filed by potential regional centers and all I-526 petitions filed by potential immigrant investors will be adjudicated by the immigrant investor program office in Washington, D.C. With the remainder of the fiscal year, all petitions by entrepreneurs to remove conditions form I-829 and EB-5-related adjustment applications – form I-485 – will continue to be adjudicated by a team in a California service center who will report to me. As of today we have 53 staff in the Immigrant Investor Program Office, also known as IPO, including 20 economists and 25 adjudicators. We have been fortunate to hire very talented, experienced, and diverse staff – about 80% of whom have advanced degrees including 7 PhDs and approximately 20 individuals with law degrees. In addition to our media staff we have a team of colleagues from the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate in office of chief counsel who are dedicated full time to the EB-5 program. This arrangement fosters enhanced communication and collaboration within the program and ultimately increased efficiency.
首先，截至到2014年2月14日，潜在的区域中心提交的所有I – 924类申请和潜在的投资移民者提交的所有I – 526类申请将由投资移民项目华盛顿办公室进行裁定。在本年度接下来的时间里, 符合I– 829类移除条件的企业家申请以及以及与EB-5相关的I – 485类调整申请将继续由加州服务中心的团队负责裁定，他们直接向我报告。截止到今天为止，我们投资移民项目办公室（也叫IPO）一共有53人，其中包括20名经济学家和25名裁定员。我们很荣幸能够雇佣到才华横溢、经验丰富的多元化员工—大约80% 的人员都拥有高学历，我们有7个博士和大约20名法学人才。除了我们的媒体工作人员之外，我们还有一支团队来自欺诈监测和国家安全理事，全职服务于EB-5项目。这样的安排可以加强沟通和合作，最终有利于提高工作效率。
Now I would like to discuss processing times. As of January 31, 2014, our average processing times were form I-526, 11 months, form I-924, 12 months, and form I-829, 11 months. Our website will be updated to reflect these times and our plan is to update the website on a monthly basis to reflect accurate processing times. We will strive to post them prior to the end of the following months. February will be posted not later than March 31st. On a related note, we do expect processing times to increase in the near future in light of the loss of the approximately 35 California service center personnel who adjudicated 526s and 924s; however, we do think this will be a temporary problem until we are able to hire and train another round of adjudicators which we are in the process of doing now. Our goal is to achieve better processing times on 526s and 829s towards the end of this fiscal year and even sooner on 924s.
接下来我想说一下处理时间。截至到2014年1月31日，我们的平均处理时间分别是：I– 526 —11个月, I – 924 —12个月, I – 829—11个月。我们将在网站上进行相应的更新,并计划每月更新网站，体现准确的审核进度。我们尽力在接下来的下个月月底进行公示。2月份的公示最晚不迟于3月31日。有一点需要注意的是，考虑到加州服务中心大约35名负责裁定526申请和924申请员工的裁减，未来一段时间内处理时间有可能加长，但是我们认为这只是一个暂时的问题，将来我们会雇佣和培训更多的审核人员，现在正在着手准备这件事情。我们的目标是在本年度底之前，加快526和829申请处理进程，使924申请处理时间更短。
Next, I would like to provide program-related statistics from the last fiscal year, which has background encompassed October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2013. We do plan to post these statistics on our website in the near future. I will begin with I-924s. So as of the beginning of last fiscal year, which again is October 1, 2012, we had 504 applications pending. At the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2013, we had 300 pending. We received 207 through the fiscal year, approved 218, denied 32, and sent requests for evidence on 236. With respect to I-526s, at the beginning of the fiscal year we had 5,018 pending. At the end of the fiscal year we had 7,131. We received throughout the year 6,346, we approved 3,699, denied 943, and sent RFEs on 3,733 cases. For the form I-829, pending at the beginning of the fiscal year was 1,013 and at the end 1,345. We received 1,217 throughout the year, approved 844, denied 44, and RFEs were sent for 418. These will be posted to our website.
接下来我会提供从2012年10月1日至2013年9月30期间的与本项目相关的统计数据。我们计划在不久的将来在我们的网站上发布这些数据。首先，我将从I-924开始讲解。上个财政年度开始时，也就是2012年10月1日， 我们有504例未处理。到上个财政年度末，也就是2013年9月30日，我们有300例未处理。在此财政年度内，我们一共收到了207例申请，218例批准，32例被拒，236发出补件要求。关于I-526，在上个财政年度开始，我们有5018例未处理。到上个财政年度末，我们还有7131例未处理。在此财政年度内，我们一共收到了6346例申请，3699例批准， 943例被拒，3733例发出补件要求。对于I-829申请，上个财政年度开始时，我们有1013例。上个财政年度末，一共有1345例。在此财政年度内，我们收到了1217例，844例批准，44例被拒，418例发出补件要求。我们将会在网站上发布这些数据。
As you may know, you can now submit an I-526 petition in USCIS ELIS. We believe the use of USCIS ELIS will not only reduce paperwork but ultimately increase efficiency within the program. We have already received some standalone 526 petitions in USCIS ELIS and we have been in the process of reviewing these filings and issuing RFEs as necessary. We hope to start adjudicating some now so we can test the system and increase confidences in the system across the stakeholder community. In addition, as some of you may know, we recently released in ELIS a document library that allows regional centers to provide existing investors in new commercial enterprises with electronic copies of documents pertaining their investment including organizational, transactional, and offering documents which can be used by I-526 petitioners to electronically submit their petitions. In the coming weeks the office of transformation coordination will host a webinar to describe the document library’s features. We hope to send additional information to this group soon.
Now I would like to share with you some filing tips when submitting your application or petition. These tips will also help us increase the efficiency of our adjudications. First, there is no need to send in a duplicate copy of the supporting evidence. One is enough and in fact an extra copy not only serves to increase shipping costs and waste paper, but because we must keep the file together at all times it becomes a burden when storing and reviewing the file. Second, we are seeing many translation documents do not comply with the regulations. In short, summary translations are not sufficient. To ensure that the case is processed timely when submitting any foreign language documents, please ensure that certification that complies with the regulations. Third, we are also seeing outdated TEA letters that require us to issue a request for evidence. Next, I would like to remind our I-526 petitioners to clearly indicate in a cover letter or a cover sheet a name, receipt, and ID number of the regional center under which a petition is based along with the name of the new commercial enterprise. And finally, for an I-924 application it would be very helpful if you would state the type of approval you are requesting – hypothetical, actual, or exemplar – in your cover letter to ensure more timely processing. We plan to publish these and additional filing tips on our website in the near future.
Next, as many of you know we are beginning to work on revised EB-5 regulations. This is something we have identified as an important step for the future of the program for some time and it is a priority as a result of the recommendations from the office of inspector general’s audit report, which was released in December. As you may have seen in the office of the inspector general report mostly limited its recommendations to drafting a regulation that would address fraud and national security issues to enhance the integrity of the program. While we agree there is a need to address these issues to the extent permissible under statute to help ensure the program is not used or abused for the wrong purposes, we plan to take a more comprehensive approach and will use the regulatory revision process to strengthen and make more efficient the overall program. Since we are in the very early stages of formulating closed regulatory changes, which of course will be posted for public notice and comment at an appropriate time, we are not in a position to discuss specific changes being considered by USCIS. We would like, however, to use this engagement as an opportunity to obtain valuable feedback from stakeholders on the EB-5 regulations and any proposed changes that you would like USCIS to take into consideration. This is a priority for us given the importance of regulatory changes to the future success of the program, so we welcome your feedback during this call. Specifically we are looking to hear from you not only ideas for USCIS to combat fraud and abuse, but we are also looking to improve upon the regulations and the subject of eligibility and procedural filing requirements contained therein. Our goal is to ensure that the administration of the program and adjudication of EB-5 cases can be more efficient and timely, consistent, and predictable without sacrificing the integrity of the program with the quality of our review. We plan to continue this listing session in a new tool we are using in USCIS called the USCIS Idea Community.
The USCIS Idea Community is a crowd sourcing tool that allows stakeholders to post ideas on a particular topic and others can participate in the discussion by voting on the ideas and comments. This will help us identify issues that are most relevant to all of you, our stakeholder community, and help us a great deal as we shape the regulation. Please look for that email in the near term as well as an announcement about a future stakeholder engagement that will be specific to the regulation.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the folks at the California Service Center, led by Rose Kendrick, the associate center director responsible for the EB-5 program at the California Service Center, for all their hard work and dedication to the program. In addition to continuing to work EB-5 cases all the way up until the transition of the 924s and 526s to D.C. a couple of weeks ago, Rose and her team have been instrumental in helping to ensure the transition of the EB-5 program to D.C. is successful. As we continue to transition the program please note that in the near future I-526 petitions upon intake may be data entered into a different system at USCIS and after that change is made will receive notices that will no longer reflect California Service Center as the center where the case is located. In other words, received notices would not reflect a WAC case number. We want to bring this to your attention so you are not surprised by internal changes that are reflected on I-526 receipt notices.
I would like to close my comments by sharing with you some thoughts about where I hope to concentrate my efforts as we move the program forward. In short, I plan to focus in three areas: One, continuing to build the program’s foundation; two, increase performance and predictability, and three is enhanced customer service and transparency. I will start with building the foundation and what that really means to me is developing the office the right way from the beginning so we are set up for success. My efforts in this area are related to two categories – personnel and programmatic. As a very new office we have significant challenges ahead. In essence what we are trying to do is reduce the backlog while at the same time expanding the office. Therefore, consistency in everything we do becomes particularly important. With respect to personnel, as I mentioned already we have 53 people on board; however, as we build a foundation we need to continue to hire. In the near term we are expecting a new group of recent hires to increase our number to around 75. Our goal is to be at or near 100 staff by the end of the fiscal year and most of those hired will be adjudicators; however, hiring is only the first step. We are also introducing an aggressive onboarding program so that we can get experienced adjudicators up to speed within five weeks of entering on duty. We are also concentrating on creating other training classes that will serve to foster consistency and adjudications and improve our subject matter knowledge.
With respect to the programmatic work we are working with our office of policy and strategy to put together a comprehensive policy manual. We are also developing a quality assessment and quality control strategy. We have also set up an internal community of interests page specific to the immigrant investor program office where we can share important information and program updates. And finally we continue to seek venues such as biweekly office meetings and roundtables so that our adjudicators and economists can discuss their cases and bounce ideas off of one another. Again, all these things, as well as others, are going to help us ensure the consistency of our decisions.
The second area I plan to focus on is performance and predictability. I discussed earlier where we are with respect to processing times and also noted you will likely see increased processing times in the near future; however, I plan to concentrate a significant amount of my time on driving performance through seeking efficiencies, establishing goals, and rewarding success. I hope that we can share updates on this effort at our next stakeholder meeting. I understand that as important as increased processing times are to all of you that predictability is equally important because of the size and urgency of many of the projects that are being submitted. We would like to be more transparent in our performance and I pledge to seek data that we can share with you in the future to assist you in making critical decisions with more confidence. Finally, I plan to take a look at our customer service strategy in an effort to increase the transparency with which the program operates. At a high level, I would like us to be more accessible, respond more timely, and provide more information rather than less. I believe we can update our website more frequently and include more useful and timely information. I look forward to discussing each area in more detail and with more concrete deliverables at an in-person stakeholder meeting in late spring or early summer.
In closing, I am very honored to have been selected to run this program and work with such a talented staff. I came to the program at an exciting time. Thanks to Dan Renaud, Robert Cox, Rose Kendrick, and many others the program was already heading in the right direction when I arrived. I look forward to working with all of you to determine how we can strengthen the program even more as we move forward. Now I would like to introduce Robert Cox, the acting deputy chief, who will provide a short lead into the policy memo discussion and then move to questions and answers.
最后，管理此项目以及与这么优秀的员工共事是我的荣幸。能够参与此项目让我非常激动。感谢Dan Renaud, Robert Cox, Rose Kendrick以及其他的同事。在我加入之前，此项目已经朝着正确的方向运行。我期待与大家共事，共同决定如何加强此项目，使其不断前进。现在我介绍一下执行副主任Robert Cox。他将简短的介绍政策讨论记录，然后会是问题解答环节。
Robert Cox: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining today’s call and your interest in the EB-5 program. Over the past 14 months USCIS provided additional guidance to our office to enhance the foundational understanding of various EB-5 eligibility criteria and the agency’s official policy interpretation of those criteria. We believe this additional guidance, including the operational memorandum issued on ten occupancies in December 2012 and the EB-5 policy memorandum issued in May 2013 have helped to clarify various eligibility requirements and how the those requirements are to be applied during the course of an EB-5 adjudication. EB-5 is of course a complex program and subject matter and we understand that there are additional issues that require future clarification, whether it is a regulatory change or additional policy guidance; however, we believe the guidance issued in the last 14 months has improved the foundation for administering the EB-5 program in a fair, efficient, and predictable manner. It should also be noted that the guidance, in particular the EB-5 policy memorandum, was posted for stakeholder comment a couple of times and the feedback provided by stakeholders was very useful as USCIS evaluated and developed the EB-5 policy guidance.
As mentioned, USCIS is now in the process of developing the EB-5 policy manual which is designed to consolidate existing EB-5 policy memoranda and the AFM into one comprehensive EB-5 policy guidance document. As Nick mentioned, in addition to developing the policy manual we are eager to launch into revising the regulation since we firmly believe that it is essential to effectively administering the EB-5 program long term. Ultimately we understand that our policy, in order to be effective in terms of administering the program in a fair and efficient manner, must be applied in a timely adjudication of each application and petition. As Nick mentioned, we are continuing to build our staffing model to ensure that we maintain a high level of quality during the adjudicative review process and are able to work through the existing backlog, reduce processing times, and provide a consistent adjudication process timeline upon which qualifying job-creating projects can be structured and resolved in the positive economic impact and job creation intended by the program.
A number of questions were submitted by stakeholders in advance of this engagement. And while we are unable to address each one specifically due to the sheer number of submissions we will summarize some of those questions that we believe have brought us applicability and provide responses before we open the lines for additional comments or questions. It should also be noted that a number of questions pertain to information which have been provided in our opening remarks.
To begin, one of the first questions we will address relates to the types of regional center application. The May 30, 2013, policy memorandum discussed the different types of projects that can be submitted to support an I-924 including hypothetical projects held with an exemplar I-526 form, which can receive deference. The question is if a regional center has an actual project but not enough information to file an exemplar I-526, will USCIS’s approval be the same as it is for a hypothetical project – that is, the regional center’s geographic area and industries need to be approved, but there will be no difference to the project. No, we consider an approval of an I-924 application based on a hypothetical project to be different than an I-924 application based on an actual project would not be the same as an approval based on a hypothetical project. Deference will be provided to determination based on actual projects and our approval notices now expressly describe the extent to which deference will apply. USCIS approved an I-924 application based on an actual project that does not include an I-526 exemplar and a copy of the business has been submitted in support of the I-924 application based on an actual project is deemed compliant with matter of Ho, we will defer to that determination in future petitions involving the same comprehensive business plan absent fraud, willful misrepresentation or an objective mistake of law or fact, the same level of deference also applies to the associated economic analyses submitted in support of an approved I-924 application based on an actual project.
The next question – does a regional center application seeking approval based on hypothetical projects require verifiable details or similar standards for market feasibility analysis or validation of costs and timeline for construction to support assumptions made in the economic analysis or is it enough to present a basically credible, hypothetical business plan? Our response is a reasonably credible sample or hypothetical business plan that provides a general market feasibility analysis, cost estimates, and timeline for construction may provide a basis for establishing eligibility for initial regional center designation. Regional center applications based on hypothetical projects still require an economic analysis with verifiable detail pertaining to how the jobs are going to be created; however, the level of detail and degree to which it needs to be verifiable is not as stringent as it is for I-924 applications based on actual project proposals and a matter of ho compliance comprehensive business plan. Understanding that these are sample projects that are presented only to demonstrate the types of projects that the regional center may pursue to create jobs, the range of assumptions that are acceptable as input into the economic modeling supporting I-924 applications based on sample projects which will not receive deference in later I-526 adjudications are different that those assumptions and inputs that are used to support I-924 applications based on actual projects that may received deference in later I-526 adjudications based on those projects. Existing regulations, however, as noted still require an economic analysis for all regional center applications and those analyses need to provide enough detail for USCIS to verify generally how the jobs will be created.
Next question – what is an objective mistake of fact or law that eliminates deference? Our response – we consider an objective mistake of law or fact to involve a determination where the officer misapplies the applicable eligibility criteria or failed to take into consideration a fact that would have been determinative in the eligibility decision. For example, an objective mistake of law or fact would be present if an officer approved a petition for the reduced investment amount upon a determination that the unemployment level in the targeted area was 125% of the national average rather than the required 150%. Subjective determinations, however, where an officer uses his or her adjudicative judgment to assess the facts and make a determination while applying the correct eligibility criteria would not be considered an objective mistake of law or fact. For example, an officer’s decision that the business plan is comprehensive and credible under matter of ho would likely be a subjective determination and unless such decision is based upon an objective mistake of fact or law would likely be provided deference.
Next question – this question relates to census track, aggregation, will USCIS accept a TEA, Targeted Employment Area, constructed from an aggregation of census tracks using the prescribed Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology from the individual investor or [inaudible – 00:41:32] designation? Our response – when the investor claims that his or her investment is in a new commercial enterprise located in a geographic or political subdivision of a metropolitan statistical area or of the city or town with a population of 20,000 or more usually by aggregating census tracks, the investor must present a letter from the state government certifying that the geographic or political subdivision is a high unemployment area. As stated in the May 30, 2013, policy memo USCIS defers to state determinations of the appropriate boundaries of a geographic or political subdivision that constitutes the TEA. According to 8CFR204.6J6 to show this new commercial enterprise has created or will create employment in a targeted employment area the petition must be accompanied by in the case of a high unemployment area, evidence that the metropolitan statistical area with specific county within the metropolitan statistical area or the county in which a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more is located in which the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business has experienced an average unemployment rate of 150% of the national average rate, or a letter from an authorized body of the government of the state in which the new commercial enterprise is located which certifies that the geographic or political subdivision of the metropolitan statistical area or of the city or town with a population of 20,000 or more in which the enterprise is principally doing business has been designated as a high unemployment area. The letter must meet the requirements of a CFR204.6I. As such a TEA constructed from an aggregation of census tracks to claim that a particular geographic or political subdivision is a high unemployment area would not meet the regulatory requirements absent a state approval letter. This type of TEA designation must be in the form of a letter from an authorized state official.
Next question – what is the standard for determining the geographic range of a regional center? Is the standard more flexible in the expansion context than in the initial filing? The standard for determining the geographic range of a regional center is the same regardless of when or how that regional center geographic request is submitted. USCIS will review the proposed geographic boundaries of a new regional center and will deem them acceptable if the applicant can establish by preponderance of the evidence that the proposed economic activity will promote economic growth in the proposed area. The question is a fact-specific one and the law does not require any particular form of evidentiary showing such as a county by county analysis. In USCIS’s experience, the reasonableness of a proposed regional center geographic boundary may be demonstrated through evidence that the proposed area is contributing significantly to the supply chain as well as the labor pool of the proposed projects. We do understand the value of predictability in the context of associated I-526 petitions. An I-924 amendment with an exemplar presenting the project to USCIS for approval and subsequent deference prior to the filing of associated I-526 petitions allows for a level of predictability for regional centers and investors. We also understand that in order to maximize the value for applicants to file an I-924 amendment with an exemplar prior to the filing of I-526s under that project we need to ensure that our processing times substantially improve. We believe we are making substantial progress towards improving I-924 processing times and believe that IPO continues to increase staff and a similar reduction in I-526 processing times will follow. Again, predictability, consistency, and efficiency in processing in addition to quality and integrity are all important goals for IPO as we administer the EB-5 program.
The next question is the May 30 memo states that a regional center may operate out of its area of operations and any ICS is job creation requirements are met. Does this mean a California regional center may submit a project in New York or must a new area of operations be contiguous to the approved region of operation? Our response – with respect to the question of whether a regional center’s geographic area must be contiguous, the new area of operations must be contiguous to the approved regional center geographic area since it would involve an expansion of the geographic area. Consistent with the form I-924 instructions, USCIS requires that a regional center focus on a contiguous geographic area. A regional center designated to operate in California would not be approved to operate a project in New York and their geographic area would not be expanded to include New York.
Next question – this question relates to the EB-5 program and public works project. The question notes that information supplied on the USCIS website seems to indicate that a commercial enterprise connected with an EB-5 investor must a “for-profit activity” and does this preclude a public works project? Our response – according to 8CFR204.6E the new commercial enterprise is required to be a for-profit entity. In cases where an investor may claim indirect job creation through an investment into a new commercial enterprise associated with a regional center, the actual job-creating entity may be separate from the new commercial enterprise. While the new commercial enterprise may pool investor funds to belong to a separate not-for-profit job-creating entity such as an entity undertaking a public works project the petitioner will still be required to demonstrate that the new commercial enterprise itself is engaging in for-profit activity and that the invested funds are placed at risk for the purpose of generating a return and that the investment into the new commercial enterprise is likely to resolve in the requisite job creation.
Next question – can investors in a project qualify for a $500,000 minimum investment by investing in a new commercial enterprise that will create jobs in a collection of separate TEAs without creating most of the jobs in one of them? Our response – yes, as long as the job-creating entities are principally doing business in the designated TEAs and if the investment is within a regional center, the job-creating entities are located in the geographic area of the regional center. Most of the jobs do not have to be created in one particular TEA if multiple TEAS are involved and the fact-supporting finding that the job-creating entities are principally doing business in the TEAs.
Next question – is there any problem if the developer or the general partner has the option to redeem an investment at a fixed amount or provide property in addition to or in lieu of a fixed amount as long as it is not an option of the investor? Our response – the answer will depend on the specific facts involved and the terms of any agreement. As noted in the May 30, 2013, policy memo, if the immigrant investor is guaranteed the return of a portion of their investment or is guaranteed a rate of return on a portion of their investment, then the amount of a guaranteed return is not at risk. Thus, IPO will review the evidence to determine if there is a risk of loss and a chance for gain and to determine whether there is a promise to return or redeem some portion of the minimum required investment amount. Even if the agreement does not represent a promise or guarantee that [inaudible - 00:50:55] contribution of capital below the minimum required amount, depending on the terms of the agreement there may be questions pertaining to whether the investor has the potential for gain.
Next question – provide clarification on sale of regional centers. In regards to the May 30, 2013, memo this clarification regarding this topic was missing from the guidance. Previously USCIS had held that sales were permitted but required amendments and in recent adjudications USCIS seems to be shying away from this position. Clear guidance is requested. Our response – a sale of a regional center entity is not prohibited. Note that the instructions for form I-924 provide that regional centers must notify USCIS within 30 days of a change of address, contact information, regional center principles, contracting agents, or similar changes in the operation or administration of the regional center. Accordingly, if a regional center entity is sold the regional center must notify USCIS of the sale within 30 days and USCIS may require the principles of the new regional center entity to file a form I-924A. The regional center may also file an I-924 amendment to reflect the sale.
Next question – does the formation of a new company after November 29, 1990, and the purchase of assets by that company from another company that went out of business quality as a new commercial enterprise. Our response – the determination of whether a new commercial enterprise has been established will ultimately depend on the facts involved and whether the facts support the claim that the new company is a new commercial enterprise or through the purposes of assets of a prior entity performed on or before November 29, 1990, is merely a reorganized or restructured entity that has not shown the degree of restructuring or reorganization required by 8CFR204.6H2 to constitute a new commercial enterprise. The various factual distinctions noted in the question and to summarize some of those distinctions that were raised – is there a difference in terms of when the assets from the prior business were acquired, whether or not that business was in existence or no longer in existence, whether or not the assets were simply stock, and whether or not the foreign national requiring the assets is entering into a different type of business, those various factual distinctions would be relevant along with others in the analysis; however, the mere fact that an entity formed after November 29, 1990, purchased assets of a prior entity does not in and of itself mean that the entity is not a new commercial enterprise. The nature, timing, and extent of the asset purchased will be evaluated to determine if this is simply as asset purchased in the course of operating and growing the new commercial enterprise or if the asset purchased is more likely than not the acquisition and restructuring or reorganization of an existing business formed on or before November 29, 1990. If the facts show that the asset purchased was more likely than not a purchase of an existing business then the facts will be reviewed consistent with matter of Soficci in precedent decision and other applicable law to determine if the business purchased was restructured or reorganized such that a new commercial enterprise resulted.
Next question – what, if any, limits on bridge financing should investors know about? The May 30, 2013, memo does not mention any temporal or other limits on using EB-5 funds to repay bridge financing. Is there any particular EB-5 related event that must have occurred before bridge financing is advanced for EB-5 funds to be allowed to replace such financing? Our response – generally, the replacement of bridge financing with EB-5 investor capital should have been contemplated prior to acquiring the original non-EB-5 financing; however, even if the EB-5 financing was not contemplated prior to acquiring the temporary financing, as long as the financing to be replaced was contemplated as short term, temporary financing, which would be subsequently replaced, the infusion of EB-5 financing could still result in the creation of and credit for new jobs. Consistent with the policy as set forth in the May 30, 2013, memo, the focuses on the nature of the underlying financing in order to determine that the financing to be replaced by the EB-5 funds is truly bridge or temporary financing or if the EB-5 funds are being used to merely refinance the longer-term debt. If the underlying financing was bridge financing, which is a fact-based determination based on the terms of the underlying financing and the circumstances surrounding the use, application, and plan at the time the financing was obtained to replace it with other long-term financing such as EB-5 funds, then jobs credited through the use of the bridge financing could still be credited to the EB-5 investors. If, however, the petitioner fails to establish that it is more likely than not that the EB-5 funds are being used to replace bridge or temporary financing rather than, for example, to refinance longer-term debt that was not contemplated to be used temporarily then jobs created through the use of the prior financing would not be credited to the EB-5 investors.
Next question – the next question relates to guest expenditures. What is the legal standard for allowing EB-5 investors in a hotel to obtain credit for guest expenditure jobs that the jobs would not be in the area? For example, that the jobs would not be in the area but for the hotel or that the hotel is the primary reason the guests are in the area? The question notes that these standards are different. The hotel might make it possible for someone to stay in the area by offering rooms when other hotels are full but visitors may be coming for some other reason. And the question asks if there is another standard. Our response – USCIS reviews these analyses and projections to determine if they are economically or statistically valid. As such, it is a fact-based specific determination in a market study and supporting evidence and the manner in which that information or data is used in the economic analysis in job creation projection. Thus, an applicant can establish that a hotel and consequently hotel and associated hotel revenues are creditable for job creation through several means. The first of these is unmet aggregate demand. USCIS examines the occupancy rates of hotels in the area when reviewing new hotel projects. If occupancy rates for hotels are high in a particular area a successful argument could be made that a new hotel will serve unmet demand rather than cannibalize existing hotel visitors to that area. If an applicant demonstrates in their business plan and through data and market studies, for example, that high hotel occupancy rates exist the USCIS considers that as evidence that there is unmet demand and that guest expenditures for hotel revenues including restaurants, meeting facilities, and concessions with the hotel, etc., represent new spending and consequently new jobs for the area. USCIS would also consider guest spending, i.e. hotel revenues, from a proposed new hotel in an area as new spending and consequently new jobs for the area if an applicant can demonstrate that they are providing a differentiated product to serve a special market segment. For example, the construction of a hotel to provide facilities for longer-term guests, usually called resident hotels, in an area where none exist supported my market study estimating current and future demand for this market segment would more than likely demonstrate the serving of new demands, hence new expenditures, rather than displacing current visitors. Similar successful arguments have been made for five-star hotels and for budget hotels in areas where one, there is aggregate unmet demand in an area and two, no comparable facilities exist.
USCIS also considers arguments that guest expenditures for hotel revenues represent new spending and consequently new jobs for the area if the new hotel is in response to another facility, for example a sports arena or entertainment venue. The next and last question that we would like to address at this time relates to evidence at the I-829 stage. What evidence does USCIS accept at the 829 stage to support the creation of model derived direct jobs or the justification of the input, i.e. revenue or expenditures, or would it be actual payroll documentation? Our response – direct jobs are identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the investor has directly invested his or her capital. The implication is that the petitioner has some operational control over the employees being counted for purposes of job creation. To show employment creation the principal alien can submit payroll records for the entity, relevant tax documents for the entity, forms I-9 for all employees hired, or any other evidence deemed appropriate by the petitioner. Model-derived jobs describe jobs that are indirect or induced and are established in the creation of a model which usually involves direct jobs as an input. Investors should carefully review the job creation model which they are basing their eligibility and submit evidence appropriate to that model. In other words, the type of evidence need to establish job creation would depend on the model being used. For example, if the model were based on revenue then evidence of revenue would need to be provided. If the model were based on the number of workers per square foot in a particular industry, the evidence should establish that this industry in fact occupies the square footage that the model predicted. USCIS will also accept payroll documentation to support the creation of jobs derived from a model using direct input.
With that, we would like to open the line so you may provide comments and suggestions for future EB-5 regulatory changes as well as to ask questions about the EB-5 programs. In closing, we would like to note – let’s go ahead and open up the lines for questions.
Carlos: Thanks Robert. Thank you so much Nick and Dan and everyone else for listening to today’s presentation. As Robert mentioned we are now ready for the questions and answers session. As we open up the phone lines we would like to remind you to please limit your questions to one per person and to please stay within the topics that we have discussed here today. If you just need general information about the EB-5 program we encourage you to visit our website at www.USCIS.gov or you may email us at public.engagement@USCIS.DHS.gov. Again, we cannot address any case-specific or fact-specific questions on today’s call. Do keep in mind that this is also a listening session and as Nick said earlier we look forward to your feedback on EB-5 regulations and any proposed changes that you would like USCIS to take into consideration. Again, members of the media joining us today – if you have questions please call the USCIS press office at (202) 272-1200. We will not be able to address questions from the media in this public engagement. And another reminder, Congressional staff we kindly ask that you please contact the USCIS office of legislative affairs for any briefing requests and/or case-specific matters. And now Mia, I think we are ready to take the first question.
谢谢Robert。非常感谢Nick，Dan和所有收听陈述的各位。正如Robert所说，我们已经为问答环节做好准备。因为我们是以电话会议的形式进行此次会议，所以我们提醒各位：每人仅限提问一个问题，问题内容需与今天讨论的主题相关。如果您只是需要了解EB-5项目的基本信息，我们推荐您访问我们的网站www.USCIS.gov ，或发电子邮件至public.engagement@USCIS.DHS.gov。另外，今天的电话会议无法解决与特定案例或特定事实相关的问题。请记住：这还是一个倾听环节，Nick之前提过，我们希望能够收到您关于EB-5规定的反馈，或者是提出您意见或建议，请USCIS酌情考虑。参与本次电话会议的媒体朋友如有问题，请致电USCIS新闻办公室，电话为（ 202 ） 272-1200。我们无法在本次公共会议上解决来自媒体的问题。另外，我们还提醒各位议会工作人员，请联系USCIS法律事务办公室索取基本信息或解决特定事宜。Mia, 现在我们可以收听第一个问题了。
Coordinator: Thank you, if you would like to ask a question please press star and one on your touchtone phone. Be sure to unmute your phone and record your name. Press star and two to withdraw your request. Our first question comes from Linda Lau with Global Law Group. Go ahead.
Linda: Hi, this is Linda Lowe from California and thank you so much for having this public engagement conference call, which is most helpful. I really appreciate everybody on the call from USCIS to make this available. I have a question regarding tenant occupancy. And in many of the RFEs that the stakeholders have been receiving, and there is a request regarding facilitation of employment, and right now the request is that besides having a market analysis of each of the industries needed for let’s say a big gigantic shopping center with 200 retailers, we are being asked to provide market analyses specific to a type of tenant, meaning that it may be a flower shop, may it be a dance studio, may it be any type of retail, and for a big shopping center it takes two to three years to build so it creates undue burden to a lot of the developers not knowing what to do in advance to solicit tenants who commit to a space for three years in advance. I am asking if there is any way we can have a policy consideration to allow market studies to be generic for a retail space and not on specific tenants.
大家好，我是来自加利福尼亚的Linda Lowe，有幸参加此次公共电话会议，使我受益匪浅。非常感谢移民局各位成员组织此次会议。我的问题是关于租户就业方面。很多申请者收到的补件要求（RFE）中，要求提供促进就业证明，现在的要求是我们不仅需要提供每个行业需求的市场分析，还需要提供具体到每个租户类型的市场分析，比如说一个大型购物中心有200家店，这些店可能是花店、舞蹈工作室或其他类型的零售商店，这就意味着我们不仅要做整个行业需求的市场分析，还要做具体到这200家店的市场分析。大型购物中心需要两到三年才能建成，这就给很多开发商造成了不必要的负担，以至于不知道如何提前三年招揽租户。 我想问对于零售市场有没有可能出台一些政策，即只要求做一般的市场分析，而无需具体到租户。
Robert: Sure, and thank you for the question. As it relates to this question, as the memo I think tried to make clear and as I believe our RFEs try to elaborate and explain, we obviously are looking for additional evidence from the applicant to establish that it is more likely than not that these types of tenants will occupy the space in this context that we are talking about, commercial space and future tenants. The evidence that may be submitted of course is not limited. There is a range or a wide variety of evidence that could be relevant to that determination but from our perspective we’re looking for sufficient evidence to be submitted by the applicant to establish that it is more likely than not that the commercial space being developed will be occupied by the types of tenants that is claimed when those tenants are being used as input into the economic model on which the job creation projections are based. And that is, of course, important for the economic analysis to determine that those job creation projections are more likely so than not or reasonable. So of course it will depend on specific facts involved and the specific evidence that may be submitted by the applicant, but again I believe our RFE should articulate some examples of the types of evidence that may be submitted and may be relevant to establish facilitation of tenant occupancy jobs.
Linda: Okay, thank you. I appreciate the answer. I am reminded of the May 30 memo – actually, December 2013 memo regarding the allowance of a change of tenant makes. So this will go in line with that policy because during the two years of construction there can be lots of changes in terms of tenant mix. I appreciate that you allow us to provide alternative evidence to show that there is a demand for retail in that situation instead of just limited to specific tenants that I get very few of our clients can commit them to lease a space three years in advance. And thank you for your answer.
Carlos: Thank you so much, Linda. I think we are ready for the next question, operator.
Coordinator: Thank you, our next question comes from Henry Chow with the Law Office of Henry Chow. Go ahead.
谢谢，下一个问题由来自Henry Chow律师事务所的Henry Chow提出，请！
Henry: Thank you. My question is related to 526, to prove a source of income. Is there any particular policy towards an offshore company? The offshore company can provide the financial statement but no tax return so the investor is using the funds as the offshore company as income or evidence. That will be difficult to prove with a tax return. So is there a particular policy toward offshore company income?
Robert: In terms of evidence related to source of income, as you know the requirement is that the petition establish and document the past of the income used for the investment and establish that the income was derived from lawful sources. The types of evidence that may be submitted in each case really becomes fact-specific to those individual cases. And certainly in some instances the availability of certain types of documents may not be the same as they are for other cases. There is obviously a variety of reasons that may impact the types of documents that are available, just in terms of the nature of different countries and their laws pertaining to how taxes are filed and recorded and documented. With that said, the burden of proof is on the petitioner to submit sufficient evidence to establish eligibility and in this case that the funds were lawfully derived. So the petitioner will need to decide what evidence is available and may be provided to USCIS in support of their petition to establish that it is more likely so than not that those funds were lawfully derived. So I would refer you to the regulations in terms of a list of the types of evidence that are typically submitted in support of that issue and as the regulations note, any other relevant evidence may also be submitted to establish eligibility on that issue.
Carlos: Thank you so much for your question and I think, operator, we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Your next question comes from David Herson with [inaudible -01:12:40]. Go ahead.
下一个问题由David Herson 提出，请！
David: That was pretty quick. Today and this morning in California for those who don’t understand that. My question relates to bridge financing and taking out the bridge financing. In many cases we could have in a construction-type case almost wholly completed at the time of substituting the bridge financing with the EB-5 money. So the question comes about as to the timing of the creation of the jobs. Clearly most of those jobs will have been created because of the cash that has already been spent, but the I-526 may not have yet been filed. So the question is can we pick up those jobs and apply them to I-526s to be filed resultant from the EB-5 bridge takeout investment?
Robert: Yeah, and this question goes back to the question that we addressed a few minutes ago as we went through the questions that were submitted in advance of the call. Again, ultimately this is a fact-based determination but as we review the application our focus is on the nature of that underlying financing, what was contemplated at the time that financing was obtained, and whether this was – for example – bridge financing that was obtained and contemplated based on the replacement of EB-5 funds. If, for example, EB-5 funds were not contemplated at the time the bridge financing was obtained as the policy memo notes that may not necessarily be determinative as long as that underlying financing was truly bridge or temporary financing that was contemplated to be replaced. EB-5 funds can be used to subsequently replace other financings that fell through in terms of replacement financing. But in the general scenario where EB-5 funds are being contemplated at the time that the bridge financing is obtained, our focus or our concern is making sure that the jobs are properly credited to the EB-5 investment funds, understanding that temporary or bridge financing is an important tool in order for these legitimate job-creating projects to proceed, especially given some of the challenges in timing related to the release or availability of EB-5 funds, so as long as there is the associated connection between the bridge financing and the EB-5 funds that are replacing the bridge financing. Per our policy, we believe that jobs may be credited to the EB-5 investors even though the initial financing that was used to start the project and start the job creation was temporary or bridge financing.
David: Thank you. I understood that and I appreciate the very practical and valuable approach. I am being challenged by some people out of country who read the regulations and say to us that the jobs must be created within, the effective work, the approval of the I-526 at 30 months later. In the case I just described, the jobs would effectively have been created quite some time before. If I take your answer on its face then, this is not a problem. Am I correct?
Robert: Yes, thank you for the clarification. We will look into that further and if additional clarification or guidance is needed we will consider that for posting. Thank you.
Carlos: Thank you Robert. Thank you for your question and I think we are ready now for the next question. Operator, the next question please?
Coordinator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jenny Liu with Global Law Group. And as a reminder, if you can be sure to mute your line when it is active. Thank you.
谢谢。下一个问题由环球法律集团 Jenny Liu提出。在此我提醒一下各位，电话接通后，请确保将电话静音。
Jenny: Hi, this is Jenny Liu. I have a question regarding what do you use the information you collect on the I-924A for? And in the past the information collected from the I-924As were used for research and compiling statistics. Is this still the case?
大家好，我是Jenny Liu。我的问题是：收集关于I-924A的信息的用途是什么？之前收集I-924As信息是为了研究和编制统计资料。现在还是 同样的情况吗？
Robert: That is still the case. It is an annual reporting form for collecting data as well as evaluating continued eligibility for regional center designation.
Jenny: I understand, thank you so much.
Carlos: Thank you so much. Operator, the next question please.
Coordinator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Shirelle Fuller with [inaudible - 01:18:21]. Go ahead.
谢谢！下一个问题由Shirelle Fuller 提出，请！
Shirelle: Hi, my name is Shirelle Fuller in Washington, D.C. Thank you for hosting today’s call. I was wondering if one of the questions and answers could be repeated. I didn’t fully understand concerning an investor’s guaranteed rate of return or their guaranteed portion of return. You talked about the promise depending on the terms of agreement. So I was wondering if that question and answer could just be repeated for clarity.
Robert: Absolutely. So again the question, as you know, was related to an option to redeem an investment at a fixed amount. So our response is the answer will depend on the specific facts involved and the terms of any agreement as noted in the policy memo. If the immigrant investor is guaranteed the return of a portion of their investment or is guaranteed a rate of return on a portion of their investment then the amount of the guaranteed return is not at risk. Thus, IPO will review the evidence to determine if there is a risk of loss and a chance for gain and to determine whether there is a promise to return or redeem some portion of the minimum required investment amount. Even if the agreement does not represent a promise or guarantee that erodes the contribution of capital below the minimum required amount, depending on the terms of the agreement there may be questions pertaining to whether the investor has the potential for gain.
Shirelle: Got it, thank you.
Carlos: Thank you. Next question, operator?
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Marty Cummings with Florida EB-5 Investment. Go ahead.
Marty: Thank you. Regarding obsolete TEA letters, USCIS will accept TEA status as determined as of the date the 526 was filed based on the most current data available at that 526 filing date. So we have seen RFEs saying that the TEA letter must be updated as of the date that the RFE was issued, which in the past was issued 12 or 18 months after the 526 was filed. We get confirmation that the TEA status was set as of the date the 526 was filed.
Robert: So two things to note and the first is that per precedent decision as well as the regulation, the determination is based on when the funds are committed to the new commercial enterprise or the filing of the 526 petition, whichever is sooner. If you have examples where you believe a request for evidence was submitted that was not consistent with precedent decision or regulation you can of course send that to the Immigrant Investor mailbox noting your concern. Of course, that doesn’t relieve the petitioner of the obligation to respond to the request for evidence by the time indicated, but certainly you can elevate such concerns through the immigrant investor mailbox.
Marty: Well, we were okay because it was still a valid TEA status. But we are concerned that may not always be the case in the future so thank you very much for your answer.
Carlos: Thank you. Operator, we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Martin Lawler, with Lawler and Lawler. Go ahead, sir.
下一个问题由来自Lawler and Lawler的Martin Lawler提出，先生请！
Martin: Yes, hi, this is Martin Lawler in San Francisco. Thank you very much for your very valuable information that you have answered a number of our questions in writing that we have submitted. I was confused about one, though. You talk about the sale of a regional center and are two 924As required, one by the regional center seller and one by the new buyer? Or is one 924A with information about the sale sufficient?
Robert: It is my understanding that in that context, and as noted in the regulations, USCIS can request sort of at any time the submission of an I-924A outside of the typical annual filing timeline. In the instance where a sale of a regional center occurred and were properly notified within the appropriate time of that sale, it is my understanding that we would or could request the submission of one I-924A or would request submission of one I-924A to update the record regarding the details of the sale.
Martin: All right, thank you very much.
Coordinator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Richard Strauss with Exemplar Law.
谢谢。下一个问题由来自Exemplar Law的Richard Strauss提出。
Richard: Thank you for holding this discussion. This is Richard Strauss from Boston. My question is specific to today’s meeting and it is of director Colucci. It is in regarding the filing tips. I just wanted to ask what was the last filing tip after you discussed the cover letters?
Nick: The last two filing tips both had to do with cover letters, one discussed on the I-526, a request to indicate the receipt and identification number of the regional center under which the petition is based along with the name of the new commercial enterprise. And the final one was for an I-924, which is it would be helpful if you state the type of approval you are requesting – hypothetical, actual, or exemplar – again, to help ensure more timely processing.
Richard: Thank you very much.
Carlos: Thank you. Operator, the next question please.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Kevin Wright with Wright and Johnson. Go ahead.
下一个问题有来自Wright and Johnson的Kevin Wright提出，请！
Kevin: Yes, my question relates to exemplar I-924 filings. In the case where you have a state such as New Mexico, for example, which refused to issue a TEA letter until the regional center is first approved, can you get an exemplar filing provided that you provide all the statistical data to prove that the TEA does exist?
Robert: Yeah, we believe that is possible, particularly since the actual TEA determination is made at the 526 stage. So in the exemplar context, obviously, the exemplar could be adjudicated and approved as an exemplar but obviously the 526 petitions filed consistent with that project and those exemplar documents would, in support of their petition, need to submit the TEA designation letter from the state if that is the evidence we are relying upon in order to establish that they are eligible for the reduced investment amount.
Kevin: Perfect, thank you.
Carlos: Thank you Rob. Thank you for your question. Operator, we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Peter Joseph with Association to Invest in the US. Go ahead.
Peter: Hi there, Peter Joseph here, executive director of the Association to Invest in the USA, the national trade association for the regional centers around the country. And thank you for hosting this welcome teleconference today. I do have a specific question with regards to maintaining the investments for 829 purposes. What is required to maintain that investment for I-829 purposes, particularly if an opportunity to refinance or to liquidate came about for a successful project? And this is particularly pertinent give the erratic 526 processing times that we often see and that could really extend the lifeline of the entire duration of the project and the immigration process that goes with it. Hopefully that makes sense and thanks in advance for your answer.
Robert: Sure, thank you for the question. The issue of sustainment as it relates to the 829 stage is something that we’re currently reviewing. As you know and as other stakeholders have indicated obviously there are a number of questions that relate to the sustainment requirement and the interpretation of that part of the regulation. There are a variety of factors that may impact that interpretation, particularly as the program may reach a point that some dates are retrogressed in terms of availability. So the issue of sustainment is something that we’re aware of, reviewing, and hoping to issue additional clarification on in the future.
Carlos: Thank you Rob and thank you for your question. We are ready for the next question, operator.
Coordinator: Thank you, our next question comes from Kathy Owens with Virginia Atlantic Regional Center. Go ahead.
Kathy: Yes, thanks so much. My question is in regards to the regional center operating in a contiguous area. Must the job creation entities be in the contiguous area or is acceptable for the geographic area generated from an economic impact report be continuous or even overlap?
Robert: Yeah, so the job-creating enterprise must be principally doing business within the geographic area of the regional center, as noted in the policy memo. They may still receive credit for jobs created outside of that area, for example indirect and induced jobs that kind of spill outside of that area as long as they are supported and reflected in a statistically or economically valid economic model and projection. But yes, the job-creating entity must be principally doing business within the regional center.
Kathy: I’m sorry, and the answer prior to that was the new area – the question was earlier was the regional center operating outside of its area and according to the policy the new area must be contiguous since it will be an amendment. The question is can the job-creating entity – does it have to be in the contiguous area or can its economic geographic area generated from the economic impact be that contiguous area?
Robert: Yeah, it may be a very fact-specific question and we would like to have an opportunity to kind of think that through a little bit better and make sure we understand the various facts or factors involving your specific question. If you would, we would like for you to send your question to the Immigrant Investor mailbox and we will review and again determine if additional clarification should be issued.
Kathy: Okay, thank you.
Carlos: Thank you Rob. Operator, the next question please.
Coordinator: Thank you, our next question comes from James Mays, with Davis-Wright-Tremaine. Go ahead.
James: Yeah, thanks for a very informative session. I have a question about the regional center geographic expansion. And basically we have approved the regional center and are going to expand it to a new geographical area. But the new geographic area, already the project is ready – I have the 526 ready to file. The question is whether we should file an I-924 first or can we file an I-924 and I-526 together? Thank you in advance.
Robert: Sure, just to note we are not in a position of course to give specific advice or case-specific advice. I would simply note as you evaluate what you believe to be best for your situation that from our perspective in terms of operational efficiencies, consistency, and predictability a 924 exemplar filed and approved in advance of 526 petitions, for example, allows for a level of processing efficiency and consistency that may not be available through other processes that are of course available based on whatever may or may not be appropriate for your clients or your situation. But again we cannot give specific advice on how you should file an application.
Carlos: Thank you Robert and thank you for your question. Operator we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Thank you, our next question comes from Yasmine Blackburn with Associates. Go ahead.
Yasmine: Hello, I [inaudible - 01:33:36] from earlier about obtaining specific TEA designations from the state. We’re in Connecticut and the governor has not designated an actual official to give out TEA designations. There is an individual within the Department of Labor who usually gives them but he is not the official designee. And although we have asked the governor as well as other departments within the Department of Economic Security to designate someone officially, they said that they are just not prepared to do that right now. So the letter that we have from this individual who normally does it, would that be sufficient to begin the process of obtaining the regional center? Or do we need to continue to press for a specific letter from an official designee?
Robert: Sure I would suggest directly to our regulation because it articulates the requirement in that regard. And the regulations do indicate that the designation must come from the governor or their designee.
Yasmine: Right, we know that it’s just that they won’t designate someone specifically and understanding that the climate is changing we want to make sure that we do everything properly rather than receive an RFE or have the investors put money into something that is not going to be approved because we can’t get an official designation. The letter is by someone who has been doing it for three or four years, but the governor won’t officially say yes, this is the person. How do you get around that if the state won’t officially designate someone?
Robert: Sure, and obviously again we cannot give specific advice on the types of evidence that someone should submit to comply with the regulatory requirements. I would simply note that the regulations do provide several options in terms of evidence that may be submitted to establish that an area qualifies as a TEA. So certainly take those into consideration as you evaluate the circumstances and what evidence is available to be submitted to establish eligibility on that issue.
Carlos: Thank you Rob, and thank you for your question. Operator, we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Thank you, or next question comes from Mona Shaw with Mona Shaw and Associates. Go ahead.
谢谢，下一个问题由来自Mona Shaw and Associates 的Mona Shaw提出。
Mona: Hello, thank you very much for taking my call. I noticed that you didn’t have any indication for direct projects, they are becoming more and more popular. Is that because you don’t want to discuss direct projects in this particular seminar or because we just didn’t think about it?
Robert: If you have a specific question that you would like us to addressed we are of course more than happy to try to address your question. In terms of questions that we did discuss as noted we obviously received a large number of submissions and tried to respond to those questions that appeared to have the broadest interests and applicability based on the questions that were received. But certainly if you have a specific question we are happy to consider that.
Mona: Thank you. I do have a couple of questions but I will try to keep it very brief. First of all, with the timing you had stated that a 526 petition is currently taking about 11 months. We understand that direct petitions are a little faster and if you could elaborate on that. The second point was relating to the structure – the corporate structure of direct petitions in a loan scenario. And if on these, most of the time when we are setting them up or are generally seeing them they are basically a wholly-owned subsidiary of the original enterprise. We would just like to know if you have any guidance on structures on a direct project and not a regional center project. Thank you.
Robert: In terms of the second part of your question, I don’t believe we can speak to that at this time. it sounds like it kind of involves a specific scenario and certainly we don’t have all of the facts before us in which to determine the extent to which an answer is appropriate or not or what issues may be involved in that analysis based on those specific facts. So I can’t speak to that part of your question. In terms of processing times, we do make an effort to process 526 petitions in FIFO order. We are aware that some processing times have appeared to be inconsistent and we are taking steps to ensure that cases are processed in FIFO order balancing kind of issues related to operational efficiency and commonality among petitions that are filed for projects and around the same time. but again we make an effort to process cases in FIFO order and the processing times that we provided are average processing times for all 526 petitions. Understanding of course there are as many of you are aware petitions that have been pending longer than those average processing times and we’re making every effort within our power to adjudicate those with a sense of urgency, but again without sacrificing the quality of the adjudicative review process.
Mona: We understand. Thank you very much.
Carlos: Thank you for your question. Operator, we are ready for the next question.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Renna Jaserili from Paxton. Go ahead.
Renna: Hi yes, this is Renna Jaserili in Washington, D.C., with Delworth Paxton. I am actually asking a question of essentially elaborating on one that was previously asked or maybe clarified. And it relates to the issue of a regional center’s investment outside of its designated geographic area. And I think the question is what would you consider to be contiguous? Well we obviously understand New York and California would not be contiguous, but does that mean it has to be literally the immediate county outside of where the geography has been approved, or is it a metropolitan issue meaning the next metro – for example, Philadelphia and New York City? Is there way you can give a little bit more guidance on that given that many people would like to actually begin the projects and submit the 526s but need some clarity to know whether or not that would be an approved project for their regional center.
大家好，我是来自华盛顿的Renna Jaserili，在Delworth Paxton工作。我的问题实际上之前已经有人提问，并做了详细解释。我的问题是关于在指定地理区域外的区域中心投资问题。您如何认定区域是成片的？我们很清楚的明白纽约州和加利福尼亚州不会是成片区域，但这是否意味着区域中心必须是已获批准的地理区域之外的相邻县城？ 或是意味着未来地铁的大都市问题？比如费城和纽约。鉴于很多人想尽快开始项目，提交526，但是他们需要清楚地知道在他们区域中心，项目是否会获得批准，您能否在这方面给点意见和建议呢？
Robert: Sure, and the determination of course would be based on the specific facts involved in that request and the evidence that is submitted to support that request. If the geographic area that was requested in your example of New York and Pennsylvania constituted one contiguous area, we would evaluate the evidence consistent with the standard as stated in the policy memo to determine what is the economic impact of the project in that area and is there the type of economic activity that spills out, for example, in that area to support the request for that designated geographic area expansion? And again, that is going to be what ultimately we would look at to ensure that it is a contiguous area and that economic activity that is being proposed supports that request.
Renna: Okay thank you very much.
Robert: Thank you.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from Ollie with the law office of Ollie Ramen. Go ahead.
Ollie: Hello, yes good morning. Thank you very much for this program, it has been very informative. My question or I should say it is just a comment regarding the credibility of the EB-5 program – I represent numerous clients from the Middle East and I have numerous I-526 applications that are pending, I have numerous cases that are pending for more two years and literally these were filed in January of 2012. I have not received anything from USCIS on these cases. I have filed and emailed and emailed and emailed through the website, and just for your information the email responses I am getting are not even proper. I mean, I literally write down the case number and the file number I write down the case was filed, for example, January such 2012. The email response says, ‘We are working on cases filed on or after April 2012.’ And that’s it. And this has become very, very frustrating because the program itself as I can share my experience with you is losing a lot of credibility for many Middle Eastern investors because the word has kind of spread that these processing times are just taking way too long. These families have to schedule their lives around this process. And when we tell them it is going to take a year or 18 months and all of a sudden it is two and a half years or three years until they are done and it makes it very, very difficult. I was wondering if you can share with me anything else I should be doing to try to get some sort of response or resolution on these cases that are pending for such a long time, literally two years.
Robert: Certainly, and we appreciate your comments and your concerns. Obviously I can’t speak to specific cases but I would like to note a couple of things generally, however. And that is that as Nick mentioned in his comments we are aware of the concerns and frustration that has been expressed about the responses that are provided to case status inquiries. We are looking into those communications to determine what is an appropriate level of detail that we should or may be providing in response to case status inquiries. So that is something that we are exploring and may clarify or provide additional detail on in the future. In terms of processing times and your comments related to the program and how it is perceived, again as our opening remarks I think indicated and made clear, as administrators of this program we are well aware of where we stand in terms of processing times and the impact that long processing times can have on some of these projects. And certainly we’re doing everything within our control and ability to identify ways to improve processing times, improve efficiencies within the program, but again without sacrificing the quality of our review or the integrity of the program. We continue to take steps to staff the program and build it to a level where we can not only keep up with processing cases that are being filed but also really starting to reduce the backlog and thus overall processing times. We are exceptionally happy with the staff that we have put into place. They are an extremely talented group of economists, officers, and supervisors. We are looking to continue to build that. Again, we are in the process of bringing more people on board and we are confident that we are going to be able to build this program and reduce processing times and hit some of the processing target goals that we have identified as a program. As you can imagine, that is not something that can occur overnight but we are committed to making that happen. So we appreciate your comments and your concerns.
当然，我们非常感谢您的意见和投诉。通常我不能评说具体的案例，但是我想从整体上指出几件需要注意的事情。那就是Nick在他的评论中提到的问题，我们知道您对状态查询回复的担忧和无奈。我们正在研究申请者与移民局的交流方式，以决定向申请者提供适当的状态查询详情。所以这是我们正在探索的方面，可能在将来澄清或提供更多细节。关于处理时间和您对该项目的意见，我们在开场白中已经指出并做了清楚的解释，作为该项目的行政人员，对于处理时间和较长的处理时间对一些项目的影响，我们清楚的知道我们所处的位置。我们现在尽全力在我们的控制力和能力范围内制定相关方案，以加快处理时间，提高项目工作效率，但是前提是不要牺牲我们的审查质量和项目的完整性。我们将继续采取措施，为该项目配备职员，使其达到一个新的水平，不仅可以跟踪提交案例的处理情况， 还可以真正开始减少积压案件，从而缩短整体处理时间。我们对已经落实到位的工作人员非常满意。他们当中有经济学家、高级管理人员和总监，是一个非常有才华的团队。我们期待继续构建合理的结构。我们正在为该项目配备更多的人员，我们相信我们有能力构建此项目，缩短处理时间，完成我们确认的项目处理目标。您可以想象，这个问题很难在 短时间内解决，但我们现在致力于将该问题在短时间内解决。非常感谢您的建议和意见。
Ollie: Just to followup, we have even had a very few cases that we did receive RFEs, on a few minor points and which we responded to immediately. And now we are waiting over nine months – I mean, even for processing of RFE cases I think you agree with me that nine months is just unreasonable. You would assume that the examiners have covered all the major points and when they send an RFE with only one or two issues and those issues have been addressed by us it shouldn’t take then nine months to get back to us. It is just very frustrating.
Robert: We understand your concern and again we just can’t comment on specific scenarios.
Carlos: Thank you Rob and thank you for your question. And operator we are running a little bit over our time so we will take the next question and then close the conference.
Coordinator: Okay, our last question will be from Rebecca Losato with Bank United. Go ahead.
好的，最后一个问题由Bank United的Rebecca Losato提出，请！
Rebecca: Good afternoon. This is regarding bridge financing. I was wondering if a bank can use EB-5 funds as collateral.
Carlos: Just one second, we are consulting on your question. Please hold.
Rebecca: Thank you.
Robert: Thank you for your question. It appears that the question is kind of outside the scope of the call and not necessarily something that we can speak to or provide advice on. But certainly if you want to followup by submitting your questions to the Immigrant Investor mailbox we can maybe provide additional clarification and we can take that into consideration and see if that is a question that we can provide an answer to.
Rebecca: All right. I have already submitted the question there as well. Thank you.
Carlos: Thank you Rob. This concludes the engagement for today. We would like to thank our operator Mia and thank everyone for participating in the call today, especially to my colleagues Dan, Nick, and Rob for their guidance today. If you have a question that we did not have time to address today please email it either to the Investor program office or you are also welcome to email it to our public engagement mailbox at public.engagement@USCIS.DHS.gov. and be sure to reference that you were on today’s phone conference. Again, thank you for joining us and have a great day.