Nearly 200 people joined us for our webinar, EB-5 Site Visits: Are You Ready?, where Daniel B. Lundy and Jessica DeNisi from Klasko Compliance along with Reid Thomas from NES Financial discussed what EB-5 issuers need to know about upcoming USCIS site visits.
Thomas started off with talk about all the different versions of proposed 2015 legislative bills – from Amodei/Polis Bill HR 616 in January, to Flake Bill S.2415 December 2015. In 2016, the evidence pointing to site visits comes from the fact that all three stakeholder meetings to date (February, April, and July) have all mentioned the occurrence.
The USCIS has also announced plans to implement the following changes during FY16:
- Updates to forms I-924, I-924A, and I-526
- Establishment of a Regional Center Audit Program and Regional Center Compliance Unit
- I-829 investor interviews
- Increased staff and training for EB-5 adjudications
- Continued regulatory clarification and rulemaking
- Expanded security checks
- Random site visits by the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit
It is clear that site visits are coming regardless of whether integrity legislation is passed or not.
Lundy and DeNisi discussed what to expect with these site visits and audits of Regional Centers based on details from the July USCIS stakeholder call and USCIS site visit protocol from other immigration programs.
Site visits will be conducted at the JCE, unannounced, performed by FDNS, and will be observational in nature. The intent is to verify that the activities on site are consistent with what was presented in the I-526 petition.
To prepare for a site visit, ensure at the time of filing that the business description is accurate, along with the location and address listed pointing to the JCE. On site there should be a summary of EB-5 information and a sign indicating that the project is an EB-5 project. The sign can reference an exact place to get more information.
The Regional Center audit will be more comprehensive. There will be advanced notification, and they will follow the general accepted government audit standards. The audit may last for a week or more and will have more interaction with management and staff. Auditors will be interested in following the path of the funds and looking to make sure there are adequate procedures in place to ensure the Regional Center is in compliance.
To prepare for the Regional Center audit, it is important to maintain documentation the entire way. Lundy stated there are over 150 categories of documents that should be kept. It is wise to have an executive summary for all of this documentation. Auditors will be looking for where the money is going, so most importantly, keep documented track of the flow of funds.
Thomas closed the webinar by highlighting real-world solutions available to help Regional Centers prepare for site audits. A proactive compliance strategy is key to audit and immigration success. NES Financial’s Intelligent EB-5 Solutions help with the tracking and documenting of funds flow.
A lively Q&A session followed, where speakers answered many relevant questions from curious attendees. To hear the webinar in its entirety, please click here.