California EB-5 regional center could be stripped of its designation
With all of the success stories regarding the EB-5 visa program it is easy to forget that not every investor or regional center will get exactly what it wants out of the program, a lesson a California city is currently in the process of learning.
In June 2009, Victorville, California, was approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to become an EB-5 regional center, according to the Victorville Daily Press. Now it appears that the federal agency will strip the city of its designation unless it can prove that it hasn’t misrepresented itself in advertising the program and that projects considered “defunct” can be revived.
The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to become green card eligible if they invest $1 million in an American business and that investment creates or preserves 10 jobs.
Shortly after the EB-5 visa program began, Congress created EB-5 regional centers. These centers manage and direct investments from foreign nationals and can be “any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment,” according to the USCIS’s website.
Some regional centers, like the one in Victorville, are designated as Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), which are distinguished by having an unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent of the national average. Investments in such areas need only be $500,000.
The city of Victorville gave the company Inland Energy an exclusive contract to raise $25 million to help develop projects. Officials had promised the municipality that all funds would be raised by May but was only able to produce $3 million in foreign investment, which represents funding from six foreign nationals.
City officials asked Inland Energy why it was unable to produce the promised investment amount, but company representatives would not comment.
Because of its failure to deliver, the USCIS issued a notice of “intent to terminate” the EB-5 regional center in Victorville, which is considered to be a rare occurrence by the news source.
The city was given until July 27 to respond to the agency’s concerns and the immigration petitions of those foreign nationals involved in the regional center have been put on hold.
Victorville submitted hundreds of pages of documents that it hopes will allay the agency’s qualms with the regional center, and now the city will have to wait for a response.
USCIS spokeswoman Mariana Gitmore told the news provider that it could be a month or two before economists are able to review the documents and determine whether or not Victorville’s EB-5 regional center will be terminated.