Does an EB-5 project have to receive USCIS pre-approval?

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulviaUnited States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) pre-approval is not required for an EB-5 project. However, before Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur, can be filed, EB-5 investors and project developers must first submit Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation. Form I-956 does not need to be approved prior to submitting Form I-526; it simply needs to be filed.

Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation

In May 2022, USCIS introduced Form I-956. This was one of the changes brought about in the industry after the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act. Previously, project developers could submit a request to have their EB-5 project granted exemplar status through Form I-924. The greatest benefit that exemplar status offered was an expedited adjudication time for investors submitting Form I-526. Form I-924 was optional, but this new Form I-956 is required.

Applicants filing Form I-956 for regional center designation must pay a one-time fee of $17,795 and prove that the proposed regional center will have a positive economic impact throughout its requested geographic area. The regional center’s geographic area must be defined and justified, and it can be as large as multiple states or as small as a single census tract, according to the design of Form I-956. In addition, all persons in positions of “substantive authority” must be defined in the I-956 petition and must submit Form I-956H, Bona Fides of Persons Involved with Regional Center Program.

Form I-956H must be completed and signed by all persons of substantial authority in the new commercial enterprise (NCE) and job creating enterprise (JCE). This includes owners, principals, officers, directors, board members, executives, administrators and anyone else with the authority to make operational or managerial decisions over the release, investment, pooling, securitization, acceptance, control or use of any EB-5 capital from immigrant investors.

Given the complex nature of this new form and the changes brought about by the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, it would be in the investor’s best interest to consult an industry expert, such as an immigration lawyer, to guide them through the process.
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