Better Get that EB-5 Regional Center Application in ASAP…

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that USCIS Director
Alejandro Mayorkas is the person who behind the new proposed fee increases,
which would take effect this summer after a public comment period.  Across the board, they raise the cost of
filing petitions for permanent and temporary residency for foreign
professionals and entrepreneurs by an average of 10%.

The most commonly filed petition, which is used by US
citizens and permanent residents to petition for relatives outside of the
country, will go up from $355-$420, an 18% increase.  The WSJ opined that an increase of $65 is
unlikely to affect the filing of family petitions, and I agree.  The cost of applying for US citizenship —
form N 400 — will remain at $675, since the fee went up three years ago to the
tune of 69%.

Once again, it is the business visas, which will bear the
brunt of the fee increases.  H1B, L, and O
visa applicants, him on others, will see the filing fees rise slightly.  The filing fee increase for employment-based
permanent residency will go up only slightly, according to the article.  More relevant to those of us involved in
investment-based immigration are the proposed fee changes affecting EB 5 immigrant
investors.  The filing of an eye 526 is
proposed to go up to $1500 from $1435, not a big deal.  But the I829 filing two years later, which
makes the investors conditional residency permit, will rise from $2850 to $3750.

But I saved the headline for the end: currently, there is no
filing fee paid in connection with the submission over regional center
application.  If the fee increase is
approved, new EB-5 service centers seeking
certification will be paying a filing fees of $6230 for the privilege of having
their regional center proposal considered. 
Better get those RC apps in sooner than later, eh?  I know a few guys besides myself who suddenly
have a very, VERY busy summer ahead to beat the proposed new fee!

Given the fact that the number of Regional Centers filed and
approved in 2009 more than doubled the total approved in the prior 15 years,
and given the fact that, as far as I can tell, the majority of them are  essentially “shelf companies” filed by
attorneys or entrepreneurs who have done little or nothing to move forth with
an actual investment project,  I can
certainly understand why USCIS would want to add a filing fee…but $6230??   Seems pretty steep to me. I assume the number
is based upon some sort of handling estimates; it certainly will not discourage
a legitimate Regional Center filing, which rarely costs under $100,000 by the
time the attorneys, economists, and accountants are done.

But blaming the proposed fee increases on decreased demand
for US immigration, we are once again reminded that only the government can
conclude that the way to increased demand is to raise the cost.