The disbarment of an EB-5 investor’s attorney will not necessarily affect a pending I-526 petition. However, if the attorney was negligent in preparing or filing the I-526 petition, this could result in a request for evidence (RFE) or denial. Additionally, the reason for disbarment might cause United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to more carefully scrutinize the petition.
While it is best practice to retain immigration counsel to help with the drafting and submission of an I-526 petition, an investor can submit their EB5 investment visa application without the assistance of counsel. Simply put, USCIS does not require investors to use immigration attorneys when preparing their petitions. Working with an experienced EB-5 attorney facilitates the application process for the EB-5 investor, who can draw on the attorney’s knowledge and experience to improve the likelihood of success. Therefore, the disbarment of an attorney after I-526 petition submission will not automatically lead to the rejection of the petition.
If the attorney was disbarred for reasons relating to ineffectiveness of counsel or committing fraud, it can raise red flags. For example, if the attorney was disbarred because they misrepresented facts relating to clients’ visa applications, USCIS adjudicators may spend more time on I-526 petitions prepared by that attorney to ensure the information included is accurate.
The best course of action would be to retain new counsel immediately and have that attorney file a notice of appearance as the new attorney of record. Dealing with this quickly is important to avoid missing deadlines on any RFEs that might arise from the original petition.
The new attorney should also review the submitted I-526 petition to ensure it was complete and accurate. If the petition includes misrepresentations or major errors, the investor may need to resubmit the petition or provide document to substantiate the original filing.