Managing Partner, LawQuest, Contributor Content
Poorvi Chothani is the founder and managing partner of LawQuest, an employment and immigration boutique law firm. Poorvi, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is admitted to the bar in India and the USA and is a registered and practicing solicitor, England and Wales. She holds senior leadership positions in the American Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association and the International Bar Association.
Thankfully, most of these are things of the past for now. Indian nationals are no longer subject to retrogression as per the most recent data published by the Department of State (DOS); the pandemic has subsided, the increase in investment amounts has been superseded by more moderate increases under the EB-5 Regional Center Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 that also reinstated the RC Program. However, as of now data published by the USCIS shows that processing time is between 41 to 71 months from the date of filing an I-526, investment-based petition. The USCIS has resumed processing cases that were filed before June 2021, and we should soon see some progress soon.
But the road ahead still has pitfalls for new investors.
Since the passage of the new law the government agencies like the DOS and USCIS were to publish guidelines or regulations to take the RC Program forward in compliance with the new statute. In the last week of April 2022, the USCIS published a set of new frequently asked questions (FAQs) where it announced a new policy that provides that “Entities seeking to be designated as a regional center are required to file Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation. The USCIS will be publishing this new form, including the form instructions, with additional information regarding the filing process by May 14, 2022.”
The RC Program was to begin functioning on May 15, 2022, when practitioners hoped to file new investment-based petitions. However, because of this new development new investors will have to wait before they can file their I-526 petitions, i.e. their investment related petitions. New investors will have to wait until after May 14, 2022, because regional centers must first file Form I-956 application to get approval, then submit a project application and receive a receipt number for it to be eligible to qualify for EB-5 investments.
But It Is Not All Bad
Fortunately, this re-designation requirement does not affect investors who have filed regional center related Forms I-526s on or before June 30, 2021, i.e. before the RC Program sunset, that is to say, the sunset day of the previous regional center program. In other words, the need for regional centers to get re-designated does not impact petitions that were pending prior to March 15, 2022. These pending petitions are considered to be “grandfathered” and will be adjudicated as per the eligibility requirements at the time they were initially filed.