Skip Navigation

30 November 2010

What is the EB-5 program?

(As published on 10/29/2010 in Epoch Times (in Chinese) as part of an ongoing series addressing general immigration questions posed by readers.)

The Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by immigrant investors by creating a new commercial enterprise or investing in a troubled business. There are 10,000 EB-5 immigrant visas available annually. In 1992 and regularly reauthorized since then, 3,000 EB-5 visas are also set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

There are two distinct EB-5 pathways for an immigrant investor to gain lawful permanent residence for themselves and their immediate family—the Basic Program and the Regional Center Pilot Program. Both programs require that the immigrant make a capital investment of either $500,000 or $1,000,000 (depending on whether the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area [TEA] or not) in a new commercial enterprise located within the United States. TEA is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.”

The new commercial enterprise must create or preserve 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR).

I want to invest $500,000.00 in an area, but there is no regional center there. How long does it take for a regional center to be established in the mid-America?

What are the requirements for me and my company to meet to get my permanent status?

The target case processing time is four months for new regional center proposals and for amended regional center proposals for approved regional centers.

A Regional Center is defined as 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. The organizers of a regional center seeking the regional center designation from USCIS must submit a proposal showing:

  • How the regional center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States, and must explain how the regional center will achieve economic growth within this regional area;
  • That the regional center’s business plan can be relied upon as a viable business model stating market conditions, project costs, and activity timelines;
  • How in verifiable detail (using economic models in some instances) jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the regional center’s business plan;
  • The amount and source of capital committed to the project and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.
When making an investment in a new commercial enterprise affiliated with a USCIS-designated regional center under the Regional Center Pilot Program, an immigrant investor may satisfy the job creation requirements of the program through the creation of either direct or indirect jobs. Notably, an immigrant investing in a new commercial enterprise under the Basic Program may only satisfy the job creation requirements through the creation of direct jobs.
  • Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
  • Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor.
How long does it take for me to immigrate to America once I apply for EB-5 immigration visa?

What's the requirement? What document do I need to provide?

I have a 22-year old son and a 17-year old daughter. Can both of them come to the U.S. once my immigration status application is approved? If my 22-year old cannot come with me, how long will it take for him to come to the U.S.?

Acquiring lawful permanent residence (“Green Card”) through the EB-5 category is a three step self-petitioning process. The target case processing time is five months for Forms I-526 and I-829.
  • First, a successful applicant must obtain approval of his or her Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur (Form I-526). 
  • Second, he or she must either file an I-485 application to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the United States. The EB-5 applicant (and their derivative family members) is granted conditional permanent residence for a two year period upon the approval of the I-485 application or upon entry into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa. 
  • Third, a Form I-829 Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions must be filed 90 days prior to the two year anniversary of the granting of the EB-5 applicant’s conditional Green Card. If this petition is approved by USCIS then the EB-5 applicant will be issued a new Green Card without any further conditions attached to it, and will be allowed to permanently live and work in the United States.
The processing time for these filings is of approximately five to six months.

Please note that the Application for Regional Center under the Immigrant Investor Program (Form I-924) effective is effective Nov. 23, 2010, and the filing fee is of $6,230.

Where can I find more information about this program?

To learn more about the EB-5 immigrant investor program, please refer to these links:
You may also visit or call 1-800-375-5283.

23 November 2010

First-Ever Fee Waiver Form Makes Its Debut

For the first time, USCIS is introducing a standardized fee waiver form. The new form, entitled “Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver”, is available for use today. The new fee schedule also takes effect today.

Comments received during the development of the form reflected applicants’ concerns and experiences in requesting fee waivers. We used many of the recommendations they provided to make the fee waiver form and its instructions easy to understand.

The form identifies clear requirements for documenting a fee waiver request and the instructions give information on the methodology that USCIS uses to evaluate the requests.

We are also seeking feedback on a new guidance memorandum documenting our consolidated policy for reviewing fee waiver requests. Stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to visit to review the new memorandum and offer their input.

USCIS’s latest fee rule expands the availability of fee waivers to several new categories. The new fee schedule also increases fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent, but does not increase the fee on naturalization applications.

16 November 2010

Five Questions and Answers: How to Address Comments and Complaints to USCIS

Have you ever had a comment for or complaint about USCIS? The following five questions and answers were put together to provide those we serve with information on how best to address comments and complaints regarding various aspects of the work that we do:

1. What should I do if I feel that I have received rude or unprofessional treatment by an officer or security guard at USCIS?

If you believe that you or someone you represent has been treated improperly, please ask to speak to a USCIS supervisor. There will always be a supervisor on duty. If, for whatever reason, you cannot speak to a supervisor, there are additional ways that you can submit a complaint, listed below.

2. How do I file a complaint with USCIS?

There are several ways that a customer may file a complaint with USCIS:
  • If you are at a USCIS office and feel that you are being mistreated or are unhappy with the service you received, it is best to raise your concerns with a supervisor while you are still at the office. The supervisor will be able to immediately address your concerns before you depart the office.
  • You may also write USCIS with your complaint. The mailing addresses of USCIS offices can be found at the “Find a USCIS Office” page. USCIS reads and takes seriously every complaint that we receive.
  • Customers are welcome to submit their complaint directly with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG). Contact information for the DHS OIG can be found on USCIS’s “Contact Us” page. This information is also posted in the waiting rooms of USCIS Field Offices.
  • You may raise your concerns to USCIS Headquarters. Headquarters information can be found on the “Directorates and Program Offices” page of
3. How do I file a complaint about the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)?

If you call the NCSC and feel that you are not receiving proper service, you may ask to speak to the representative’s supervisor. You can also write the Customer Service Directorate at:

USCIS Customer Service Directorate
Contact Center Enterprise Office
111 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Mailstop 2260
Washington, DC 20529

When you write the Customer Service Directorate, it is helpful if you include the following information in your letter:
  • Date and time of the call
  • The phone number you used to call the NCSC
  • The name or ID number of the representative you spoke with
USCIS keeps NCSC call recordings for 90-days. Providing the information above will assist in locating the call so that we can effectively address your concerns.

4. I have information about misconduct or criminal activity of a USCIS officer, who should I notify?

Please report this information to the DHS OIG:
  • Toll-free DHS Hotline at 1-800-323-8603
  • By fax at (202) 254-4292
  • Via e-mail to 
  • By mail to the following address:

    Department of Homeland Security
    Attn: Office of the Inspector General
    245 Murray Drive, Building 410 Stop: 2600
    Washington, D.C. 20528
5. I have a suggestion for USCIS, where can I direct my comment?

You should submit your comment to the appropriate office (i.e. if it is a suggestion about a service center, you can send your comment to the service center). The mailing addresses for offices can be found on the “Find a USCIS Office” page.

11 November 2010

USCIS Honors the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces

Posted by Alejandro Mayorkas

Standing Proud With Our Newest Citizens, Honoring Our Veterans

Oath of Allegiance

Seventy-two service members from 24 countries were sworn in as new U.S. Citizens during the 7th Annual All-Military Veterans Day ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California on November 10, 2010.

Today is Veterans Day, a day reserved to express our solemn and immeasurable appreciation for the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. We recognize the sacrifices that service members make each and every day for our great nation, sacrifices that are to be forever honored. That in America volunteers enlist in service of our country is a unique source of pride. The principles of freedom, justice, and equality form the foundation of our nation. Immigrants not yet citizens have joined our military and served with distinction alongside citizens in defense of these principles.

Yesterday I was proud to address 75 members of the military who are becoming naturalized citizens on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego, California. (Read more - click here)

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas presented new U.S. citizens with their Certificates of Naturalization as part of the 7th Annual All-Military Veterans Day ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California on November 10, 2010.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent a team of immigration officers to Camp Victory, Iraq to complete the naturalization process for more than 50 non citizens deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. This is the third time in 2010 that USCIS officers have traveled to Iraq to naturalize members of the military. Here are some of their stories.


10 November 2010

Five Frequently Asked Question from Members of the Military and their Families

As a part of our work leading up to Veterans Day, we wanted to post a list of questions frequently asked by members of the military and members of their families - and provide the answers here.

1. How do I report a birth abroad?

According to the Department of State: "The birth of a child abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) should be reported as soon as possible to the nearest American consular office for the purpose of establishing an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship at birth. The official record is in the form of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America. This document, referred to as the Consular Report of Birth or FS-240, is considered a basic United States citizenship document. An original FS-240 is furnished to the parent(s) at the time the registration is approved."

You can find more information on the Department of State’s website.

2. I’m not able to keep the ASC appointment in U.S. because I’m overseas with spouse and children. What do I need to do?

If you and your family are stationed abroad, you can submit two properly completed FD-258 Fingerprint Cards taken by:
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, 
  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate officials, or
  • U.S. Military Police,
3. I am an active duty military member stationed abroad. How do I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of any application by clicking on the “Check My Case Status” link on the USCIS homepage at Please Note: when checking the status of a Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence, Form I-751, you must use the receipt number from your ASC appointment notice. You may also check your case status by calling the USCIS Military Help Line at 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645).

4. I am a military naturalization applicant. When am I permitted to file my Application for Naturalization, Form N-400?

If you are applying for naturalization through U.S. military service during a designated period of hostility, you may file the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, once you have completed one day of honorable service on active duty or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. In most cases, the earliest you can submit your application is during basic training. Individuals in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) are typically not eligible to apply.

5. I am abroad and my conditional resident status will expire prior to my return to the United States. Can my spouse file the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) without my signature?

Yes. USCIS will accept Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, Form I-751 without a signature if:
  • The form is signed by the conditional resident spouse and
  • Accompanied by the required evidence outlined in the form instructions and
  • Includes a copy of official orders abroad.
Make sure you contact the Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) to notify USCIS when you return to the United States.

For more information about immigration benefits for members of the military and their family, please visit our website at


08 November 2010

Veteran and USCIS Asylum Officer Danny Phillips

Danny Phillips is currently an Asylum Officer with the USCIS Houston Asylum Office. The following was written by Danny and details his military service:
The military is what got me to where I am. I was a high school drop-out. I never considered college as an option because it just was not something that people in my family did. I had always been interested in the military and with no high school diploma the Army was the only branch that was interested in me, so I signed up. Almost immediately I was told that I would have to get my GED to stay in the Army. Next I was told that I could get promotion points by taking college courses, so I started taking random courses from University of Maryland which offers classes on most Army bases. In 1996, while in Bosnia, I got a letter from UofM stating that I had earned an Associate in Arts in General Subjects. It wasn’t much, but it made me realize that I was capable of more than I had considered. I set a goal of obtaining a baccalaureate degree, but had no idea what to major in. 

Danny Phillips at the “Great Ziggurat of Ur” ruins of the ancient Sumerian City of Ur near An-Naziriya, Iraq
Danny Phillips at the “Great Ziggurat of Ur” ruins of the ancient Sumerian City of Ur near An-Naziriya, Iraq

About that time I was taking an undergraduate Constitutional Law class and my professor convinced I too could go to law school. I left the regular Army in 2002 and joined the National Guard.  I started law school at University of Houston in the summer of 2002. I was deployed to Afghanistan for one year in the middle of law school, but I came back and graduated in May 2007. It was through the career services office at law school that I found my current job as Asylum Officer and I cannot imagine doing anything else. After one more deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009, I retired from the National Guard with 24 years in service. Despite all my deployments I believe that the Army has given me way more than I ever gave to it.


Honoring Veterans at USCIS: Seoul Field Office Director Ken Sherman

As we approach Veteran's Day, The Beacon will feature a number of posts honoring those who served. Today, we feature stories authored by two veterans working for USCIS. The first is Ken Sherman, our Field Office Director in Seoul, South Korea. Ken served in the U.S. Air Force from 1986-1990 and writes about growing up in a military family.

My first experience overseas was as a small child when we were stationed at Tainan Air Force Base (AFB), Taiwan from 1968 to 1970. We were at a small base in the southeast of Taiwan. We were cut off from many American things, but we did receive support from our country. The department of defense provided excellent schooling, nice housing, and the military families supported each other. 

Picture of Ken on a plane flying from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bagram AFB, Afghanistan in April 2009
Picture of Ken on a plane flying from Kabul, Afghanistan to Bagram AFB, Afghanistan in April 2009

As children, my brothers and I changed schools every few years. We were constantly losing and making new friends at each new location. Our mothers were having to move households and learn to live in new countries. Our fathers were often on temporary duty away from home. However, it did not feel unusual or strange because all of our friends were dealing with the same things and the military provided so many programs for family members. After we returned from Taiwan, we were stationed one year in New Hampshire and then my father was sent to Vietnam. My mother, myself, and my three brothers moved to a small town in Vermont called South Ryegate. We had very little money and while I did not realize this at the time, my mother must have been very worried about my father. Dad has always stated that he was in one of the safest parts of Vietnam and that except for occasional ill-aimed mortar attack and bomb, it was pretty comfortable.

My mother wrote my father each day and I remember the excitement when we received a letter back from him. Those letters are still in the attic of my parent’s home. Dad also visited us at Christmastime in the middle of his Vietnam tour. I can still remember the excitement when he came back during Christmas. He had dropped from 185 pounds to 155 pounds due to the heat. I do not remember clearly how I felt when he returned to Vietnam after the holidays, but I do remember feeling confused and unsure. One other thing I should note is that my father had to take a second job in Vietnam to help support his family. He worked part time for Western Union in order to make a few more dollars to send back Mom because we no longer had military housing. My father returned safe and sound in summer of 1972. What I took from this is that military members and their families sacrifice to defend our country. As U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, we have the duty to support members of the military and their family.

I am currently serving as the USCIS Seoul Field Office Director. My area of responsibility is Korea and Japan. Both of these countries have a large number of U.S. military personnel and military family members.  I consider it one of my most important duties to provide them service and support. I have traveled to many bases naturalizing military members, military spouses, and military dependent children. I have also been TDY to Afghanistan, flown on to an aircraft carrier at-sea, traveled to the Philippines assisting with military naturalization.

I think that our agency understands the demands and stresses on military members and strives to assist them.  I enjoy this part of job and appreciate working with an agency dedicated to supporting the military. I think that growing up in a military family probably does make me feel more comfortable dealing with military members and does help me to emphasize with military members and their families. I will miss this work when I rotate back to the states. Military members have protected this country for over two centuries and it is only right that we celebrate their service.