FOR SHAME! IIUSA Charging $500 for Freedom of Information Act EB-5 Answers

When the brilliant Steven Yale-Loehr founded IIUSA on May 10, 2005,  I paid attention.  According to its website, “IIUSA [was] founded as the first national membership-based 501(c)(6) not-for-profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program”.  At that stage in my career, I had zero faith in the Regional Center program, given the damage done to (mostly) Chinese families by changing USCIS positions as well as by law-skirting Regional Centers…but Steve’s involvment gave it real credibility.  I’d done a number of individual, direct EB-5 investor visas, but I didn’t trust the Regional Center program; his decision to form this entity as a means of self-governing the chaotic Regional Center community gave me hope.

By 2011, when American Venture Solutions Regional Center was approved by USCIS, I had obviously changed my tune regarding regional centers, but only because AVS was a “purpose-built” Regional Center formed to market the first (and still ONLY) Forbes 400 pedigree EB-5 projects.  Under Steven’s leadership, IIUSA had grown in significance.  While I was just entering the Regional Center world, I remember thinking…”one day I’ll need to join IIUSA…”  But I was busy, and it would be years before I revisited the subject.

By the time I was ready to consider IIUSA membership in earnest, things had changed:  IIUSA had mutated from its original purpose of representing the totality of the EB-5 Regional Center industry into becoming a de facto lobbyist for the same giant regional centers which have repeatedly abused TEA regulations and continue TO THIS DAY to rely on kickbacks to unlicensed foreign agents, notwithstanding years of SEC enforcement actions against Regional Centers for that very activity.  Today, IIUSA ONLY represents that powerful and monied lobby of Regional Centers owned by giant urban developers, and the handful of small Regional Centers with TRUE TEA projects like AVS are not even an afterthought on the IIUSA agenda.

I get that IIUSA took the time and effort to file the FOIA request.  I also understand that I am NOT an IIUSA member because I long ago concluded that spending $4000 to make AVS RC a  member made no economic sense given that their focus is exclusively on protecting the interest of the mega-projects.  But when IIUSA as a “non-profit” decides to charge $500 to non-members for what is PUBLIC information released by the USCIS, it is the ultimate confirmation that the organization has devolved into a special-interest lobbying group which does NOT represent the whole of the EB-5 Regional Center community, and which cares only about further limiting access to public information to it’s deep-pocket Regional Center members.  I have no idea if a FOIA response constitutes “public information” once it is issued, but even if it doesn’t, IIUSA’s $500 price tag for access to what is clearly intend to BE public information from USCIS says everything you need to know about the organization.

So sad.