Early in May 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an official notice of its intent to modify the federal regulation that covers the fees that the government charges for various immigration application forms. Two of the applications that would be most profoundly affected by this proposed change are two prominently involved in the EB-5 visa process: the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur and the Application for Regional Center Designation. If the proposed rule takes effect as currently written, the cost of the application process for EB-5 visa seekers, as well as the cost for those seeking regional center status, would go up by several thousand dollars.
The DHS proposed the new rule on May 4. Under this proposal, there are several new or increased fees that the federal authorities have placed along the path for those involved in the EB-5 visa process. The first step for a foreign national seeking an EB-5 visa is the Form I-526, the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. The I-526 is the immigrant’s means by which he establishes that he is eligible for an EB-5 visa. Under the existing rule, the application fee associated with this form is $1,500. If the proposed new rule takes effect as currently written, that fee jumps to $3,675.
After the federal government approves an immigrant’s I-526 form, the immigrant’s next step involves a choice of two options. For one of these options, there is another increased fee. Immigrants can file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to change their immigration status to conditional permanent resident. That form’s fee would rise under this new rule from $985 to $1,140.
Under the proposed rule, some of the biggest fee hikes would await those involved in the regional center certification process. The form for initially obtaining a regional center designation as part of the Immigrant Investor Program is the I-924, which currently has a fee of $6,230. That fee would leap to $17,795 under the new rule. Once you obtain a regional center designation, you must submit a Form I-924A each year in order to demonstrate continued eligibility for participation in the program. Currently, the Form I-924A has no fee. Under the new rule, that form would carry a $3,035 fee.
According to the DHS, the fee increases were necessary after it reviewed its current fees and its current costs related to these applications, and it concluded that the “current fees do not recover the full costs of the services” the agency provides. Particularly, the agency pointed to the significant growth in the Immigrant Investor Program as a reason for the increases. Currently, the USCIS has approved roughly 800 regional centers nationwide, and that number is going up quickly. The increase would go toward the review of I-924A forms, which is often a complex task, as well as “site visits to some regional centers to verify the information provided.”
The rule is likely to take effect later this year.
The proposed changes, if enacted, would clearly have a substantial impact on immigrant investors and employers alike, especially from a budgetary perspective. As with any aspect of the EB-5 visa process, it is essential to have on your side skilled counsel who is up-to-date on all aspects of the law. The Florida business visa attorneys at Stok Folk + Kon are here to help you through this procedure, providing reliable advice and representation at every step along the way.
Contact us online or by calling (305) 935-4440 to schedule your consultation.
More blog posts:
Florida Workers Sue Disney for Alleged Fraud Conspiracy in H-1B Visa Application Process, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, May 18, 2016
Temporary Extension of EB-5 Visa Program Triggers Action in South Florida, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Nov. 4, 2015