17 Jul Elis And USCIS Electronic Filing For I-526 Cases
In February of 2014, USCIS made the public aware of a new USCIS service that allowed persons to electronically file I-526 visa petitions. The USCIS electronic visa filing system is named “ELIS” (which stands for “Electronic Immigration System”). ELIS is part of the long-term efforts by USCIS to enable electronic filing of all visa applications with their supporting documents.
Since February of 2014, only a few I-526 visa petitions have been filed using the ELIS system. On July 3, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report finding that the ELIS system faced software integration issues, and that USCIS adjudicators actually took longer to process I-526 cases using ELIS compared to I-526 cases filed using traditional paper applications. The Office of Inspector General recommended improvements and better-integration of software platforms, combined with further training of USCIS adjudicators.
We do not expect an increase in I-526 cases filed through ELIS until the issues raised by the Office of the Inspector General are resolved.
BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS PLANS TO RELEASE MODIFIED RIMS II IN 2015
Recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (“BEA”) notified the public that 2015, it will be releasing a modified economic model to replace the original Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II). The modified economic model will be similar to RIMS II because it will produce regional “multipliers” that can be used in economic impact studies to estimate the total economic impact of a project on a region.
The BEA expects that the modified economic model can be produced with fewer costs because the modified model will be updated with new input-output (I-O) data only for calendar years ending in 2 and 7 (referred to as “benchmark years”). The modified model will become available to customers in 2015 and incorporate 2007 benchmark I-O data and 2012 regional economic data.
This development was adopted by the BEA because the budget sequester of 2013-2014 reduced its funding levels, causing the BEA discontinued updates to RIMS II. While the BEA has continued providing RIMS II multipliers without interruption throughout 2014, the modified economic model offers a longer term, reliable and cost-effective solution.
Until the modified model is available in 2015, all users may continue to buy RIMS II multipliers.
We have continued to receive I-526 approval notices on cases filed using RIMS II economic methodology throughout 2014. Further, in our experience, we have not had any questions raised by USCIS regarding this issue in 2013 or 2014.
RFE SPOTLIGHT ON SOURCE OF FUNDS
Recent Requests for Evidence (“RFE’s”) issued by USCIS on Source of Funds issues point to continued efforts by USCIS to verify the origin of money used to purchase real estate assets.
EB-5 investors and their families frequently sell or mortgage real estate that they have acquired to generate the funds that will be invested in the new commercial enterprise in the U.S. USCIS has always sought to obtain information regarding the origin of funds used to purchase real estate.
Recent RFE’s indicate that USCIS delves in great detail into real estate sale and mortgage contracts. For example, a recent RFE asked the EB-5 investor to explain why the address on the mortgage loan contract was not the same as the address of the real estate property used as collateral for the mortgage loan. This trend is particular true for purchase and sale contracts between individuals that are not fully documented. A recent RFE asked for detailed information on the EB-5 investor’s sale in 2013 of a real estate asset to an individual, such as: a complete copy of the real estate sales contract including signatures from both parties; identification documents of the buyer; bank account documents proving that the money paid as the purchase price originated from the buyer, and real property registry information confirming that the transfer of title was registered.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions regarding EB-5 news.
Ignacio A. Donoso