A Form I-526 “reset training” was given through the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicators in May 2019, and in September 2020, those training materials were finally released… at least partially. The first collection of documents amounts to roughly a quarter of some 2,000 pages of training materials (around 500 pages), but it’s a start. And even that much was a fight. After EB-5 advocacy association IIUSA’s Freedom of Information Act request was refused, they filed a lawsuit against the agency.
Why is this information important? Foreign investors participating in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program must infuse the minimum-required capital in an eligible EB5 investment project. Once they have, each investor must file an I-526 petition to prove they have met their capital requirements. They have the flexibility of choosing to invest directly or indirectly through a program-approved regional center, but every investment must create the same number of full-time jobs for U.S. workers – 10.
These petitions are reviewed by USCIS adjudicators, and the training materials help those preparing the petitions better understand that adjudication process – something that can increase their likelihood of success. Unfortunately, the FOIA lawsuit only resulted in a judgement forcing USCIS to release the training materials to IIUSA, and the non-profit organization has decided to use them as a member benefit. For now, only those who have access to the association’s member portal may review the reset training materials directly.
That said, we do know a bit about the first batch of materials released and can share why are they important to the EB-5 program participants who work with EB5 Affiliate Network.
Changes in EB-5 Investment-Related Content
Within just the first few pages of the 500 released so far, a lot of ground is covered on how adjudicators are asked to practice identifying scenarios of denial for deference on previously approved I-526 and I-924 petitions. There is also important information on how adjudicators should request evidence and notify of intent to deny a petition. Here are some areas of content change that should be of particular interest to foreign nationals working on an EB-5 investment:
- TEA analysis
- Fund-sourcing and path
- At-risk capital
- Escrow arrangement
- Material changes
- Minor and non-EB-5 investors
The Importance of Access to USCIS Adjudicator Training Materials
Although the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program provides one of the quickest and easiest pathways to a U.S. green card, foreign investors can still spend several years meeting requirements and processing the various petitions and requests necessary. Wouldn’t it make sense for the government agencies involved to be as transparent as possible in their practices to ensure the work they are required to review is as complete and accurate as possible the first time it reaches USCIS adjudicators’ desks?
Program participants and the experienced legal teams they partner with to execute their EB5 investments can benefit greatly from the valuable information available through these training materials. These adjudication guidelines provide sample scenarios and interpretation that simply aren’t available through any other source. These materials should be accessible to foreign investors and other immigrants who may be affected by changes in processes for adjudication, at the very least.
Even though a vast amount of the content doesn’t change in these kinds of updates, there are nuanced adjustments in how USCIS adjudicators are trained to interpret policy and precedent. These slight shifts can make considerable differences in the final outcomes of EB-5 investment adjudication. It’s not just about outlining basic information: It’s the insights a trained eye can glean from new angles, noted emphasis, and omissions from otherwise familiar texts.
Those tasked with preparing EB-5 investment documentation for an adjudicator’s review should be able to immediately access any updated standards and perspectives that will be applied to the petitions and supporting documents they will ultimately submit. This will save valuable time and resources for both hopeful immigrant investors and their families and the adjudicators charged with analyzing the submissions.