Immigration Lawyer Chicago/ Immigration Forms for U.S. Citizenship, Naturalization, and Admission/ USCIS Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program
The United States offers various immigration pathways to attract foreign investors who can contribute to economic growth. One pathway is the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the EB-5 Program.
A key component of the EB-5 Program is the concept of Regional Centers. These are organizations designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to facilitate the pooling of EB-5 investments in large-scale projects that can create significant economic impact and employment opportunities within a specific geographic area.
You can browse the approved regional centers across the United States on the USCIS website.
To apply for and maintain the designation as a Regional Center, organizations must file Form I-956, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program.
This blog will explain the purpose of Form I-956. It will also guide you through the eligibility criteria for Regional Center designation, the application process, and the 2022/2023 changes to the regional center designation application.
Organizations must meet specific eligibility criteria to earn a regional center designation. There are several criteria to help demonstrate the organization’s potential to contribute positively to the EB-5 investor program.
Applicants must clearly define the geographic area where the Regional Center will operate. This area, also called the “targeted employment area” (TEA), should consist of contiguous geographic locations, such as cities or counties.
Ideally, the TEA should have high unemployment rates or be a rural area because these locations qualify for a reduced investment threshold under the EB-5 Program.
A crucial factor in obtaining regional center designation is demonstrating the ability to promote economic growth and create jobs within the TEA. You must provide a detailed business plan outlining your proposed projects, the investment requirements, and the expected job creation resulting from these projects. The business plan should include a comprehensive economic analysis, illustrating the planned investments’ direct and indirect economic impact.
USCIS requires that each EB-5 investment create at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. For Regional Centers, indirect job creation (jobs created because of the project’s economic impact) can be counted towards this requirement.
You must also present a reliable job creation methodology that estimates both direct and indirect job creation resulting from the EB-5 investments.
Regional centers are responsible for managing and overseeing the EB-5 investments they receive. You must demonstrate your ability to administer and monitor the investments effectively. This includes having an experienced management team, a strong organizational structure, and adequate financial and operational controls.
Additionally, regional centers must comply with all USCIS regulations and reporting requirements throughout their designation period. As part of the I-956 application, organizations must outline their plans for compliance, due diligence, and investor support to showcase their capacity to fulfill their responsibilities as a designated regional center.
Applying for Regional Center designation involves several steps, including completing Form I-956, gathering supporting documentation, paying the required fees, and submitting the application package.
The process begins with completing Form I-956.
Form I-956 is a robust 12-page application public or private entities use to petition for a regional center designation.
You’ll also use Form I-956 to amend an approved regional center if there is a change in the regional center’s name, organizational structure, ownership, administration, or geographic area.
The application process for Form I-956 is a lengthy one that can involve multiple parties, including:
The first part is simple. You indicate what type of application you’re completing. You either select “initial application” or “amendment to an approved regional center.” If your application is for an amendment, you’ll provide your regional center identification number and select the type(s) of change happening at your organization.
In this section, you’ll provide basic information about the regional center that you are applying on behalf of. Include the legal name of the regional center, address, contact information and legal, and organizational structure.
You must clearly define the targeted employment area (TEA) where the regional center will operate, including details about its boundaries and the rationale behind choosing this specific area.
You must provide a comprehensive economic analysis demonstrating the potential economic impact of the proposed regional center’s projects within the TEA. This analysis should include data on the expected increase in regional productivity, job creation, and capital investments resulting from the EB-5 investments.
You must also include a description of the regional center’s policies and procedures for managing, monitoring, and accurately reporting on the performance of each new commercial enterprise (NCE) or job-creating entity (JCE). This includes outlining your plans for compliance with all regulatory requirements.
You must demonstrate that you have the necessary policies and procedures to ensure the regional center complies with all USCIS regulations. This includes outlining your organizational structure, due diligence processes, investor support systems, and other effective plans for managing EB-5 investments.
You’ll need to provide details about all the people involved in the regional center and its projects, including managers, partners, investors, executives, consultants, and other related personnel.
A qualified certifier (someone with substantial authority in the organization), an authorized individual, an interpreter, and a preparer will all sign in the appropriate sections of the form.
You must provide any additional documents and evidence needed to support your application. This includes financial statements, project plans, marketing materials, letters of commitment from investors, appraisals, or other relevant documents. All documentation should be written in English or translated into English by a certified translator.
In addition to Form I-956, applicants must submit various supporting documents to substantiate the information provided in the application. The evidence you submit will depend on your specific project.
The documents you submit could include the following:
Since the EB-5 process and filing Form I-956 are individualized for your business, working with an immigration attorney with experience with regional centers is highly beneficial. At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., our team can guide you through the process to ensure your application is complete and accurate. Contact us today for more information.
Applicants are required to pay a filing fee when submitting Form I-956. The filing fee is $17,795. However, fees are subject to change, so verifying the current fee before applying is essential. Payment options include checks, money orders, or credit card payments using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
Once Form I-956 and all supporting documents have been compiled, you must submit the application package to the USCIS address specified in the form instructions. You should use a trackable mailing method to ensure the safe delivery of the application package.
Processing times for Form I-956 can vary depending on the volume of applications USCIS receives and the complexity of the proposed Regional Center. USCIS does not give any data on estimated wait times for this petition. However, processing times vary anywhere from four months to almost ten years. You can check your application status using the USCIS case status tool.
Form I-956G, Regional Center Annual Statement, is a form used to demonstrate a regional center’s continued eligibility for the designation. The regional center’s annual statement must file this form with the USCIS within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year for as long as the regional center remains approved.
Failure to file an annual statement can lead to the regional center being suspended or terminated. The filing fee for Form I-956G is $3,035 and it must be submitted with a check or money order.
Form I-956G replaces Form I-924A. You’ll no longer complete Form I-924A.
Form I-956F is a newly introduced form exclusively for approved regional centers. Although it shares some similarities with the “exemplar” submission on Form I-924 from the previous program, Form I-956F is now required by law for Regional Centers to obtain approval for each new project.
This form is not for requesting a change in the regional center’s geographic area. You can complete this form at any time; each form may only include one commercial enterprise.
This mandatory form ensures that every investment offering complies with the EB-5 program requirements and meets the necessary job creation and economic development criteria. Implementing Form I-956F, the USCIS aims to enhance transparency and oversight within the EB-5 program, ensuring that all associated projects contribute positively to the U.S. economy.
Form I-956 replaced Form I-924 in June 2022 after passing the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. You’ll no longer complete Form I-924.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 requires the USCIS to collect an annual fee from designated regional centers, with a standard fee of $20,000 and a reduced fee of $10,000 for regional centers with 20 or fewer investors. USCIS will begin collecting fees for the fiscal year 2023 on March 2, 2023, and fees for future years are due between October 1 and October 31.
If you have any questions about Form I-956, Form I-956G, Form I-956F, or the new Integrity Fund, the knowledgeable attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help.
We have over 30 years of immigration law experience and are well-versed in the process of applying to become an EB-5 economic unit.
You may be just beginning your journey toward becoming an EB-5 designated regional center. Or maybe you want more information about hiring an individual on an EB-2 immigration visa for your business.
Our experienced immigration attorneys are just a phone call away. Contact us today at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!