USCIS shuts down Victorville EB-5 regional center
After months of speculation, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has decided to shut down the EB-5 regional center in Victorville, California.
Mariana Gitmore, a spokeswoman for the USCIS, told the Victorville Daily Press that the EB-5 regional center had not been able to show the federal agency that it met the standards needed to raise capital through the EB-5 visa program.
Gitmore also noted that this was the first time that the USCIS has terminated an EB-5 regional center since the EB-5 visa program began in 1990.
The program was started to help American businesses gain access to the foreign capital. Under the EB-5 visa program, if a foreign national invests $1 million (or in some areas of the country, $500,000) in a U.S. business and that investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs, the investor becomes eligible for a U.S. green card.
EB-5 regional centers were established shortly after the original program to help direct and manage foreign investments. According to the USCIS, these centers 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."
City Attorney Andre de Bortnowsky told the news source that Victorville will appeal the USCIS's decision.
David Hirson, an attorney who worked with the program through its marketer, Inland Energy, said he was optimistic about the program.
"We expect that the Victorville Regional Center will be reinstated very soon," he told the news source.
The Victorville Regional Center initially received USCIS approval in July 2009, but this past May it received what the news source described as a rare notice to terminate its center.
In its notice, the USCIS raised questions of whether some of the proposed projects that the center was undertaking were viable. In addition it questioned whether the EB-5 regional center had misrepresented itself to investors.
The regional center defended itself, asking the federal agency to disregard the potentially not viable projects and focus on helping a local wastewater treatment plant repay some of its loans.
The USCIS sent the city a second notice in August, questioning whether the repayment of the loans would create the jobs necessary for participants in the EB-5 visa program.
The news source reports that the Victorville had received $9.5 million in loans through the program.