Significant changes to the United States Immigration Investor Programme designed to make it easier for foreign investors and entrepreneurs to create jobs are being proposed.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reviewing the application process to the programme that is commonly referred to as the EB-5 Programme.

They involve making the application process more simple, transforming the intake system and reviewing the process for immigrant investors. According to Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the US Immigration Department it is part of the Obama administration's ‘continued commitment to improve the legal immigration system and meet our economic and national security needs for the 21st century’.

Annually, there have been 10,000 visas available through the programme for immigrant investors who invest in commercial enterprises that create at least 10 full time jobs in the United States.

Mayorkas said that the programme was created by congress in 1990 to attract foreign investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. It allows international investors to petition independently or as part of the USCIS-designated Regional Center, but it is often criticised for being too complex.

‘Proposals submitted to us under the EB-5 Programme are often complex, involving business plans supported by expert analyses evidencing that the EB-5 Programme’s legal criteria are met. Over the years, stakeholders have brought to our attention challenges that petitioners have faced in our processing of the often complex EB-5 proposals,’ said Mayorkas.

‘Our focus on this programme, and the input stakeholders have provided, has led us to propose a series of significant improvements to the programme. These changes include an accelerated adjudications process, with premium processing, the creation of specialized intake teams to handle the Form I-924 applications, coupled with the applicants’ ability to communicate directly with the specialized intake teams via email and the creation of an expert Decision Board to render decisions on the applications and to afford applicants with an in-person or telephonic interview to resolve issues,’ he explained.

‘We are dedicated to enhancing this programme to ensure that it achieves its goal to the fullest extent possible. We are committed to making long term process improvements to ensure that all of us together are fully realizing the EB-5 Programme’s goal of creating jobs and growing our economy,’ he added.