After Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act in March 2022, USCIS announced that the act repealed the legacy Regional Center Program. Consequently, more than 600 existing regional centers were effectively deauthorized and were required to file the new Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation, in order to regain authorization under USCIS. Thanks to a recent decision by a California federal judge, previously authorized regional centers are allowed to continue operations while litigation is pending, “or until the agency engages in a reasoned decision-making process regarding how to treat these centers under the Integrity Act.”
As a result of the decision, the existing regional centers are permitted to operate within the regime created by the Integrity Act. In addition, USCIS must continue to process new I-526 petitions from immigrants investing through the existing regional centers. However, USCIS may ultimately determine that all previously authorized regional centers can no longer operate until new I-956 petitions are submitted and processed. In any case, USCIS cannot deauthorize existing regional centers “without engaging in reasoned decision-making consistent with the APA,” according to the decision.
The decision will remain in effect until the earlier of:
- a ruling on summary judgment by the court; or
- a reasoned decision by the agency about how regional centers should be treated given the Integrity Act’s ambiguity.
The court is set to address case scheduling at a hearing on Invest in the USA’s motion to intervene to be held on July 14, 2022. In the interim, entities may choose to submit I-956 applications seeking USCIS designation as a regional center under the new Regional Center Program. In addition, individuals seeking status as an EB-5 immigrant investor whose investment project is associated with a regional center may file an I-526 Immigrant Petition only after the regional center has submitted an I-956F project application and received a receipt number for that application.
Stay tuned for potential updates from Jackson Walker. For questions about how you or your business could potentially be impacted, please contact an attorney in Jackson Walker’s Business Immigration & Compliance practice.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For additional assistance related to EB-5 regional centers, please contact an attorney in Jackson Walker’s Business Immigration & Compliance practice.
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- What Investors Need to Know About Lapsed Authorization for EB-5 Regional Center Program »
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