On August 24, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) hosted a webinar on the Form I-924A, Annual Certificate of Regional Center (“Form I-924A”). USCIS released an audio recording of the seminar which you can listen to here. The Form I-924A is required to be submitted by EB-5 Regional Centers to demonstrate continued eligibility for its regional center designation. Here are five things we learned from the webinar, which provided an overview of changes to the Form I-924A in the December 23, 2016 edition:
- When to File Form I-924A. USCIS indicated that EB-5 Regional Centers may submit the Form I-924A at any point from October 1 through December 29 of the calendar year in which the Federal fiscal year ended. The instructions to the Form I-924A provide a helpful chart indicating whether an approved EB-5 Regional Center is required to its initial Form I-924A:
Once the I-924A is properly filed, USCIS will issue a receipt notice within 21 days after submission. An EB-5 Regional Center who has not received a receipt notice should contact USCIS at USCIS.ImmigrantInvestorProgram@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS noted that entities with pending I-924 Regional Center applications or EB-5 Regional Centers that have been terminated are not required to submit a Form I-924A.
- Rejection of Form I-924A. USCIS noted numerous reasons why it may reject a Form I-924A filed by an EB-5 Regional Center. These include:
- Failure to completely fill out the Form I-924A;
- Failure to submit any requested documents listed in the Form I-924A instructions;
- Submission of a Form I-924 prior to October 1 or after December 29;
- Failure to include the appropriate filing fee of $3,035,
- Failure to pay the filing fee of $3,035 on a check or money order drawn on a bank or financial institution located in the U.S., or not payable in U.S. currency;
- Failure to make the check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”;
- Submission of a Form I-924A signed by an individual who has not previously been approved by USCIS to complete the Form I-924A;
- Failure of an EB-5 Regional Center’s “Authorized Individual” to provide an original signature (no signature stamps or e-signatures) on the Form I-924A; and
- Submission of a Form I-924A to the Immigrant Investor Program Office in Washington D.C. (“the “IPO”).
In the event USCIS rejects an EB-5 Regional Center’s Form I-924A, USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Terminate the Participation of the Regional Center in the Immigrant Investor Program (a “NOIT”). USCIS indicated that a response to a NOIT should be submitted to the IPO with a copy of the Form I-924A submitted to USCIS’ California Service Center.
- Job Creation. USCIS stated that EB-5 Regional Centers must ensure accuracy and consistency regarding job creation, both internally within the Form I-924A and externally with other immigration petitions filed with USCIS (Form I-526s and Form I-829s). The job creation number should reflect the aggregate direct, indirect, and/or induced jobs that have actually been created by all sponsored projects to date, regardless of whether EB-5 investors have independently claimed credit for such jobs on a Form I-526 or Form I-829. USCIS noted that EB-5 Regional Centers should only include job creation that occurred during the Federal fiscal years chosen in the Reporting Period selected in Part 3 of the Form I-924A. This will require the calculation of direct jobs or jobs created through expenditures or revenue to be pro-rated for the Federal fiscal year. USCIS stated that EB-5 Regional Centers should only include “maintained jobs” if its sponsored projects involve a “troubled business.” The revised Form I-924A also requires EB-5 Regional Centers to clearly demonstrate each industry and the resulting aggregate capital investment and job creation in that industry. USCIS provided no guidance on how to allocate EB-5 capital investment and non-EB-5 capital investment into each industry category.
- Multiple New Commercial Enterprises. For EB-5 Regional Centers with multiple new commercial enterprises (“NCEs”), information solicited in Part 6 of the Form I-924A must be submitted for each NCE in Part 11 of the Form I-924A. During the Q&A session, USCIS indicated EB-5 Regional Centers can submit attachments in word or excel format to provide the requested information, as long as it clearly indicates what section of Form I-924A it is answering and the EB-5 Regional Center’s “Authorized Individual” signature and date is included on each page.
- Use of Information Submitted in Form I-924A. USCIS will use the information submitted in each Form I-924A to determine whether the EB-5 Regional Center is continuing to “promote economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment in the approved geographic area” in accordance with 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(m)(6). USCIS also indicated that information submitted in the Form I-924A relating to principals or owners of an EB-5 Regional Center and its sponsored projects will allow USCIS to perform standard background checks with law enforcement agencies, which may reveal derogatory information that may result in the issuance of a NOIT.