提前规划|新一轮EB-5改革前瞻以及对中国市场的影响

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所属分类:美国移民

回顾2015——新一轮改革的前世今生

在刚刚过去的2015年,为了改革我们现有的EB-5项目,美国国会在一系列的谈判角力之后达成协议,将现有项目原封不动的暂时延期至2016年9月30日。

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在过去的七年间,EB-5项目以爆炸式的速度增长,当然在现有的制度中有一些元素已无法顺应现在市场上的一些大项目的要求。同时,近些年区域中心的高速增长使得政府对EB-5项目监管需求日益增大。基于此,2015年试图改革EB-5项目的努力主要可以归纳为以下两个方面:

(1)试图解决诸如目标就业区域、最低投资额以及签证配额分配的技术层面的规则;以及

(2)被称为“诚信方案”的措施,旨在加强政府监管EB-5项目的能力,从而防止欺诈并保护投资人。

在2015年在国会发起供讨论的五个议案均试图将上述问题一次性解决。然而,由于EB-5项目十分复杂,由诸多相互关联的部分组成,一旦改变一个部分将不可避免的影响其他内容。除此之外,在EB-5团体中也有很多不同的利益牵扯。其中,那个谈判到最后一刻(2015年12月15日)的议案试图进行太多的变革,但却没有足够的时间讨论,最终无法通过,一方面因为其试图解决所有的技术问题,另一方面也是因为议案没有收到EB-5团体的一致支持。

然而,尽管在技术层面有很多分歧,但对诚信方案的需求争议却一直不大。基于此,2015年12月,亚利桑那州的参议员Flake提出了一个新的议案。这个议案被称为“2015年EB-5诚信法案”即S.2415,由Flake在12月17日提出(即前述改革议案落败后的两天时间内),其发起人还包括德克萨斯州共和党参议员John Cornyn和纽约州的民主党参议员Charles Schumer。本议案包含诸多旨在提高区域中心透明度与诚信度的规定,其中一些提案与之前未通过的EB-5议案中的内容相似。

展望2016——衔接中国市场,改革未雨绸缪

这个议案中大多数的条款明显是为区域中心制定的(例如所有区域中心每年须缴纳的2万5千美金的年费),但我想在本文中指出此议案中一些有可能影响中国市场及投资人的条款。

1)EB-5资金不能用于购买市政债券或其他任何债券,只要此债券一般公众亦能购买。

2)在投资人提交任何项目的I-526申请前,区域中心必须已经提交样本申请,但此样本申请不需要已通过。(现在的情况是,区域中心先行提交样本申请被认为是最佳实践,但并未规定必须这样做。跟现行规定相同的是,投资人提交申请I-526申请前不需要样本申请已经通过。)

3)“参与”区域中心的人必须是美国公民或永久居民。所谓“参与”区域中心的人一般被定义为对区域中心持所有权的人或者在其职位上有权作出运营上或管理上的决定的人。

4)外国政府实体不能向区域中心提供资金,或直接或间接的拥有区域中心的所有权或管理权。(这个规定与2015年12月未通过的议案规定相比相对宽松。上一个议案规定外国政府实体不仅不能参与区域中心,还不能参与新商业企业或就业创造实体,这基本上杜绝了中国国有企业的美国关联公司以任何形式参与EB-5.)

5)投资人在现行的1500美元的申请费之上需额外支付1000美元。(未通过的议案原本规定为12000美元)

6)移民中介需在美国移民局注册,并且向移民局披露相关收费。美国移民局将向公众提供已注册的中介名单。

7)每个投资人的I-526申请中需包含一份由投资人签署的文件,披露所有由区域中心或新商业企业所支付的与投资人投资相关的费用与报酬。

8)投资人在50万美元投资款外还需提供管理费的资金来源。(其他未通过的议案中包含的较有争议的与资金来源相关的规定未被包含在这个诚信法案中,例如,只有来自于直接家庭成员的赠与才能是合法的赠与来源,以及只有由特许的银行或金融机构提供的EB-5贷款才是合法的贷款来源。)

9)投资人必须披露任何对其不利的财产相关的判决,以及任何未决的在美国内外的法院针对投资人的与政府相关的民事、刑事以及行政程序和任何有可能涉及财产判决的民事程序。

10)诚信法案为拯救那些I-526已通过但区域中心被撤销的投资人提供了方案。这对于深陷区域中心撤销案例但自身并无过错的投资人而言是极大的好消息。也就是说,如果投资人的I-526申请已经通过或者已经是一个附条件的永久居民,但其投资所基于的区域中心被撤销,投资人有6个月的时间重新投资一个新的项目,从而不会丧失他们的I-526批准或他们的附条件永久居民身份。同时,整个新商业企业也可以选择重新挂靠一个未受影响的区域中心,这对于那些租用区域中心的项目而言可能有很大的帮助。

总的来说,这个议案通过的可能性较大,因为它并未试图解决任何争议很大的问题,但却可以使国会在因为游说压力过大,未能通过EB-5改革法案而备受指责的情况下挽回颜面。因此,我们应当密切留意与此议案相关的动向,为不久的将来有可能发生的规则变化未雨绸缪。

翻译:Becky Song

(本文原载于EB-5移民超市季刊冬季刊)
以下为Julia Park律师文章英文原文,供参考:

(Possible) EB-5 Rule Changes for 2016

Author: Julia Park

After much hand wringing and negotiations surrounding the draft language of a new bill that proposed to change the EB-5 program as we know it today, the US Congress came to an agreement to temporarily extend the program unchanged until September 30, 2016.

Due to the explosive speed at which the program has grown during the past 7 years, there are definitely elements of the current rules that do not scale easily to accommodate the larger projects on the market today. In addition, the proliferation of Regional Centers in recent years has increased the need for government oversight of the EB-5 program.

Reflecting this reality, legislation introduced to reform the EB-5 program in 2015, in particular the so-called Grassley-Leahy Bill addressed two broad topics: (1) Technical Rules addressing such topics as the TEA, minimum investment and visa quota allocations and (2) so-called Integrity Measures that are aimed at strengthening the government’s oversight capabilities of the program to prevent fraud and protect investors.

The five bills that were floated in Congress in 2015 attempted to address all of these issues in one fell swoop. However, the EB-5 program is a complicated program that has many interrelated moving pieces. So moving one piece inevitably affects other pieces. In addition there are different interests among the players in the EB-5 community. The bill that was negotiated up to the last minute on December 15, 2015, attempted to cram through too many changes with too little discussion. It ultimately failed because it was difficult to reconcile all the technical issues and as a result it didn’t could not receive the support of the EB-5 community.

However, despite the disagreement over the Technical Rules, there was never much controversy over need for Integrity Measures. Reflecting this perceived need, a new bill was introduced in the Senate in December 2015 by Senator Flake of Arizona. Listed as the EB-5 Integrity Act of 2015, or S. 2415, the bill was introduced by Flake on Dec. 17 (two days after the more comprehensive bill failed) and co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. It contains several provisions aimed at increasing Regional Center transparency and integrity, and some of its proposals are similar to ideas contained in the EB-5 legislation that failed to pass.

Most of the provisions of the bill are obviously aimed at regulating Regional Centers (such as a $25,000 annual fee for all RCs), but in this article I want to point out some provisions of the bill that would impact the migration industry and future investors.

1) EB-5 capital may not be used to purchase municipal bonds or any other bonds if such bonds are available to the general public

2) An exemplar petition (Becky: please link to our “what is an exemplar” article – don’t forget to delete this note before you post!) must be filed by the Regional Center before any investor can file their I-526. (Currently, it is considered best practice to do so, but it is not a rule that an exemplar must be filed. But unchanged from the current rules, the Exemplar Petition doesn’t have to be approved for the investor to file.)

3) A person must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be “involved with” a Regional Center. Being “involved in” a Regional Center is generally defined as having an ownership interest or being in a position of substantive authority to make operational or managerial decision.

4) A foreign government entity may not provide capital to, or be directly or indirectly involved with the ownership or administration of a Regional Center. (This is actually a looser restriction compare to the Grassley-Leahy Bill which said that a foreign government entity may not be involved in not just the Regional Center but also the NCE or JCE – which basically eliminated involvement of all U.S. affiliates of Chinese SOEs from being involved in EB-5 in any way.)

5) Investors will be required to pay an additional $1000 in addition to the $1500 filing fee. (This number was $12,000 in the bill that didn’t pass.)

6) Migration agencies will have to register with the USCIS and disclose fee arrangements to the USCIS. The list of registered agencies may be made publicly available by the USCIS.

7) Each investor’s I-526 petition must include a disclosure document signed by the investor which discloses all fees and compensation paid by the Regional Center or the NCE in connection with that investor’s investment

8) Investors must provide source of funds for administrative fees in addition to the $500,000 investment. (The rather controversial new SOF rules of the bill that didn’t pass didn’t make it into the Integrity Bill. Ex. Only direct family members can gift; Only chartered banks or financial institutions can make EB-5 loans.)

9) Investors must disclose any monetary judgments against them as well as any pending governmental civil or criminal actions, governmental administrative proceedings, and any private civil actions involving possible monetary judgment against the investor in any court in or outside the U.S.

10) The Integrity Bill provides procedures to save investors whose I-526 has been approved if the RC is terminated. This is great news for people who are inadvertently caught up in RC termination cases through no fault of their own. Basically if the investor already has an approved I-526 or already is a conditional resident and the RC that sponsors their investment is terminated, the investors will have 6 months to reinvest into a new project and not lose their I-526 approval or their conditional resident status. There is also an option for the entire NCE to associate itself with a non-tainted Regional Center which would be very helpful for lease deals.

There is a pretty good chance that this bill will be passed as it doesn’t address any really controversial issues while also allowing Congress to save face in the face of criticism that they failed to pass EB-5 reforms due to lobbying pressure. So it is worth monitoring the movement surrounding this bill and also plan ahead for the possible new rules in the relatively near future.

作者简介:Julia Park是AAEB5集团的执行总监,在AAEB5集团成立之前,Julia的主要工作是作为Julia Park律师事务所的首席律师,专门负责EB-5移民事务。通过她多年的EB-5移民业务,Julia掌握了大量的与EB-5移民相关的实用信息,并分享在她的EB-5博客上。

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