Navigating EB-5 Project Filings: Exploring the Impact of Expedited I-956F on Investors

On February 16th, 2024, LCR hosted the webinar “Understanding EB-5 Project Filings: How an Expedited I-956F Impacts Investors” with the industry leader, Ron Klasko, Chairman of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, which explored the intricacies of the EB-5 program, specifically focusing on the crucial Form I-956F and its implications for investors.  

Here is an outline of the key takeaways for individuals interested in the program.  

Here are the key takeaways:

Project Filings (I-956F):

  • Purpose: The I-956F application explains why a project should be approved for EB-5 investment.
  • Timing: It must be filed by the regional center before any investor invests, but it does not need to be approved beforehand.
  • Content: It includes project documents like the private placement memorandum, business plan, and economic report.
  • Benefits for Investors: Under the new law, investors only need to submit the receipt notice proving the project has a filed I-956F, not the entire application package.

Expedited Processing:

  • Criteria: Rarely granted, usually based on national interest arguments presented by government agencies.
  • Impact: Expedites the I-956F adjudication, potentially leading to faster investor petition processing.
  • Investor Petitions: Investors can request their I-526E petitions to be expedited based on the project’s expedite justification.

Additional Points:

  • RFE (Request for Evidence): Considered normal and an opportunity to clarify information for project approval.
  • Direct vs. Regional Center EB-5: With direct EB-5, all project documents are filed with the petition, while regional center EB-5 only requires the I-956F receipt notice.
  • Processing Times: Non-rural projects typically take 12-16 months, while rural projects may be faster. Expedited approvals can be obtained within 1-2 months.
  • Investor Considerations: Filing before April 1st is crucial to avoid significant fee increases. Allow ample time (ideally months) for lawyers to prepare strong petitions with proper source and path of funds documentation. Partial investments are generally discouraged due to increased risks.

This summary provides a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding EB-5 project filings and the impact of expedited processing on both projects and investors. Remember, this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized guidance.

Demystifying the I-956F:

Form I-956, also known as the Application for Approval of an Investment in a Commercial Enterprise, plays a critical role in the EB-5 program. Submitted by regional centers managing pooled investment projects, it seeks approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the project’s economic viability, job creation potential, and adherence to program regulations. An approved I-956F serves as a gateway, signifying the project’s eligibility for EB-5 investment. 

Investors need to know that the I-956F has been filed, but USCIS doesn’t require approval when the investor files their I-526E.

Understanding the Impact on Investors:

For potential investors, understanding the I-956F process is crucial. While a lot of trust can be put in an experienced team, an I-526E petition will not be approved if the project is not approved.  It is not uncommon for a project filing to receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) and still be approved. If an experienced team has a well-structured project, investors can be confident that it will be approved.

This session highlighted the significant connection between an approved I-956F and an investor’s individual I-526 petition: 

  • Streamlined Application Process: An approved I-956F simplifies and potentially expedites the individual investor’s application by demonstrating the project’s prior vetting by USCIS. This can potentially reduce processing times and minimize hurdles. 
  • Transparency in Project Scrutiny: The webinar shed light on the rigorous evaluation conducted by USCIS during the I-956F review. This process ensures project legitimacy and safeguards the interests of investors by thoroughly examining economic viability, job creation potential, and compliance with program regulations. 
  • Advantage of Expedited Approvals: If the project has expedited review, it may also lead to expedited investor petitions. Expedited project review does mean the I-956F will be processed more quickly, less than the 12.8 average months and potentially as short as 2 months. Of course, while an approved I-956F isn’t required, it does remove immigration concerns for the project. 

Additional Resources:

This post serves as a concise summary of the “Understanding EB-5 Project Filings” webinar. For those interested in further details, consider watching the webinar recording here.

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