The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have begun their previously heralded site visits to Job-Creating Entities as part of their information-gathering process required for EB-5 adjudications.
The site visits, reports IIUSA, are part of a wider USCIS verification program launched to counteract the employment of H-1B, L-1 and religious workers, and do not cover regional centers or new commercial enterprise sites. The inspectors, dispatched by the Fraud Detection and National Security directorate, show up unannounced and interview on-site personnel, take photographs, verify information given in the petition, and compile a report that becomes part of the record used in Form I-829 (but not I-924 or I-526) adjudication.
The inspectors, furthermore, appear to be familiar with the project’s record and have reportedly been asking questions such as
- “How are EB-5 funds being put to use?”
- “How much EB-5 has been drawn and used by the company?”
- “How are jobs being created?”
- “How many workers are on site?”
- “What is the business of the company? How many employees does the company have?
- “How many facilities are in the U.S.?”
Carolyn Lee, Partner at Miller Mayer LLP, a leading law firm focusing on EB-5, points out several problems with EB5 site visits.
“USCIS site inspectors are accustomed to visiting named employers on a worker petition. The inspected business therefore knows or should know that it is on record with USCIS and that USCIS may conduct a site visit.
In the EB-5 context, however, the project site business or businesses may have no idea that any EB-5 capital was used, or even know what EB-5 is. Consider a large scale construction project involving an office tower and retail on the ground floor. USCIS site inspector arrives and begins questioning retail and office tenants with questions like the above. The tenants have no idea why they’re being asked these questions and would understandably be alarmed or at minimum, confused, about why they are being asked these questions. They would also not know whether they were required to answer the questions, and how best to answer if they even have knowledge enough to answer. Consider these questions being put to a cashier at a retail clothing store.”