EB-5移民提案之生效时间及其影响分析 | Ronald Klasko律师版

今天,我们再回到EB-5变法,EB-5新提案。最近有个问题越来越突出,虽然参议院6月3日推出的新提案,各方争议特别大,但是毕竟是重量级议员提出来的,通过的可能性(或者说在妥协修改之后)还是比较大的。

美国移民

那问题来了,这份新提案,对于项目、区域中心和投资者有几个关键的变化,在9月30日之前,乃至9月30日之后,将带来哪些影响。从现有的律师们的分析,以及提案条文来看,一旦提案通过并生效,那么就立即对于几个关键变革,如:就业创造条款、TEA(目标就业区)的认定、最低投资额和资金来源,发生至关重要的变化,而在这4个重大变革中,TEA和最低投资额,可能会因Grandfather(延用旧律)条款而继续沿用老的法案。

今天,EB5Sir找来了两篇文章,分别本篇是Ronald Klasko律师的文章,另一篇是是Peng & Weber律所的文章。就这两篇解读而言,Peng & Weber律所的文章更加简洁明了易于理解,Ronald Klasko律师的解读更加专业细致,朋友们可以参考阅读。事先申明下,如果越读越糊涂,别发愁,毕竟立法者自己没有说话,USCIS(移民局)没有 发声,都是律师们的个人解读。当然,对于投资者来说,早点递案,避免不确定因素,也是唯一可以控制的。

提案生效时间

关于EB-5提案生效时间的解读

就参议院的EB-5提案,我们将在接下来的时间内发表文章对其继续解读。尽管我们认为提案中的内容并不会最终全部成为法律,但在国会给区域中心项目长期延期之前,我们深信EB-5项目必将面临一场立法上的改革。

无论最终通过的法律规定的内容是什么,EB-5项目的变化一旦发生,它的生效日期都将是一个重要的问题。因此,尽管我们认为最终通过的法律的具体内容可能会和现行提案有所区别,但现行提案中关于生效日期的规定有可能在最终通过的法律中保留下来。基于这一原因,也考虑到项目中心,开放商和投资人一定是希望在法律生效日之前采取必要的行动,因此本篇文章旨在讨论参议院EB-5提案的生效日期的相关规定。

在讨论之前,作为一位已将提案中关于生效日期的规定反复研读多遍的律师,我想先阐述一下我对于这一问题的观感。在我看来,提案中关于生效日期的规定,有些地方不明确,有些地方无法操作,有些地方不合逻辑,有些地方又不一致。尽管如此,我还是希望尽最大的可能就参议院提案中关于生效日期的规定作一个总结。我会把我的讨论着重放在项目方,投资人,和区域中心这三个方面。

eb-5项目方

总体而言,提案中规定关于项目方的变化在法律通过之日起开始生效。那么,对于那些在法律通过日之前递交样本申请,但在法律通过日当天该申请尚在审理的项目意味着什么呢?就这一点而言,提案的规定好听的说是不清晰,难听的说就是无法操作。如果关于项目的变化(比如,关于创造就业的变化)对正在审查的样本申请生效,那么其中许多甚至大多数申请都将无法通过。最起码,这些项目都需要为了满足新法律的要求作出实质性的改变,从而可能导致样本申请无法被通过。为了满足新法律的要求作出的改变还可能导致项目文件与该项目下其他投资人已经递交甚至已经获批的申请中的项目文件的不一致。这些法律上的改变可能导致某些项目的投资人不再能获批,从而阻碍项目进一步的开展,而危害到那些已经投资的投资人的利益。因此,提案中关于法律通过当日即对正在审理的样本申请生效的规定必须改变。否则,将会带来非常严重的移民法和证券法的问题。

我们应该能够确定的是,起码就投资额以及指定就业区域(TEA)的定义这两块内容,如果样本申请在法律生效日期前递交,那么递交日当时的相关规定会被祖父化而保留下来。请注意这并不意味着如果在递交日当天项目方在TEA内,那么法律生效之后他仍然就会被定义为在TEA内。而是,当下关于TEA的定义将会在将来投资人对项目进行投资时仍然适用。也就是说,如果该项目符合当下现行的TEA定义——我们假设他使用的是连接人口统计区域和州政府认证——那么50万美金的投资额将会对该项目的未来投资人生效。而新提案中更为严苛的TEA认定将对没有通过递交样本申请而被祖父化的项目的投资人生效。

然而,参议院提案中要求在任何投资人投资之前,项目方需要通过一个和现行的样本申请制度基本类似的获批程序。这一规定会在法案通过之日起生效,并且适用于所有在法案通过日之后递交的I-526申请。

那么,这一规定在一个已经祖父化的样本申请的情况下又如何适用呢?在这一点上提案的具体规定和意图依然不明确。尽管如此,从文字的解读上看,提案似乎规定在法律通过日之后,样本申请必须获批的要求适用于所有投资人,无论该投资人投资的是否是已经祖父化的项目。因此,祖父化项目的投资人可能需要等待祖父化的样本申请再次获批才能递交该项目的I-526申请,而这可能需要等到法律通过的几个月甚至几年之后。尽管如此,一旦祖父化的项目获批,那么投资人就可以以现在的投资额进行投资,尽管这可能是法律通过的几年之后。

eb-5投资人

投资人的I-526申请并不能祖父化一个项目,因为只有区域中心递交的样本申请才能将项目祖父化。尽管投资人的I-526申请的标准应当适用在投资人递交I-526申请时现行的法律,但提案中的规定似乎不能保证会产生这一结果。相反,提案的内容似乎可以解读为任何新的变化会对所有正在审理中的I-526申请生效。这可能导致一个极端反常的现象出现:投资人投资某个在递交时能够通过但因为法律的变化而导致无法通过的项目,而此时他们通常没有获得还款的途径。如果我们对现提案的内容的解读是正确的,那么这应该不是也不应该是国会的本来意图。那么,对提案的内容作出必要的修改来确保这一情况不会出现就十分关键。

提案同时在什么是合法的投资资金来源上有很大的变化。在之前的文章中我们曾经指出,如果提案被全文通过,在现行法律制度下能够被接受的许多资金来源形式将不再被接受。提案从文字解读上来说似乎要求这些改变在法律通过之日起对所有正在审理的I-526申请适用。毋庸置疑,这将是一个不能接受的结果,因为包括赠与,贷款等许多财务上的交易正如投资资金一样是不可逆的。这将导致许多投资人无法获得投资款返还,或者获得申请批准。因此,修改提案内容,从而明确界定所有关于资金来源的法律变化仅适用于法律生效日之后递交的申请也就尤为重要。除非并且直到这一修改发生,我们认为为了保险起见,所有新递交的I-526申请都应该按照参议院提案的新要求为准。

提案同时也给了投资人一些优惠,包括可以在递交I-526同时递交I-485调整身份申请,以及能够通过利用245(k)条款在投资人失去移民资格的180天内仍然递交调整身份申请。这些规定将对所有正在审理的I-526申请生效。

最后,提案要求政府在批准I-829之前进行实地考察。这一要求会在法案通过两年后生效。

区域中心

提案中有许多区域中心以及其负责人的新规定。这些变化包括合规的要求,何时能够递交修改申请,区域中心实地考察,区域中心负责人的规定,证券法的规定,关于区域中心市场宣传的规定等等。所有的变化将在法律通过日对正在审理的区域中心申请生效。尽管如此,对于在法律生效日之前通过的区域中心,在法律生效日一年内该法案不会生效。这也就意味着那些已经存在区域中心将有一年的时间来满足提案中的严苛规定。

由于不同的生效日期的规定充满着不一致和不合逻辑的地方,我们现在唯一能给出的明确的建议就是:区域中心在法律生效前需要递交样本申请,以及现在递交I-526的投资人避免使用提案中不认可的某些贷款和赠与的资金来源类型。

以上所有关于生效日期的问题我们都会向国会进行大量的反馈和争取。希望这会在法案正式通过前带来一个可实践的关于生效日期的具体规定。

原文作者:H. Ronald Klasko律师,原文出处:www.blog.klaskolaw.com。

Effective Dates in Senate EB-5 Bill
June 29th, 2015 by H. Ronald Klasko

We are in the process of publishing a number of Client Alerts and blogs on the Senate EB-5 Bill. Although we do not believe that the Bill will pass in its present form, we do believe that there will be some legislative reforms to the EB-5 program before a long term extension of the regional center program is passed by Congress.

No matter what is contained in the final Bill, the effective date of any changes in the EB-5 program is a critical issue. It is certainly possible that, although the provisions of the Bill may change, the effective date scheme may remain. For that reason, and because regional centers, project developers and investors may want to take action before the effective date of any change, I have prepared this Alert to summarize the effective date provisions in the Senate EB-5 Bill.

Before doing so, however, I want to express my opinion as someone who has read and reread the effective date language many times. That opinion is that the language is at some points unclear, at some points unworkable, at some points illogical and at some points inconsistent. With that said, here is my best attempt to summarize the effective date scheme in the Senate Bill. I will divide my summary into Projects, Investors and Regional Centers.

Projects

The general rule is that the changes regarding projects are effective on the date of enactment of the law. What does this mean with respect to a project for which an exemplar is filed before the date of enactment and is still pending on the date of enactment? The Bill is at best unclear; at worst, unworkable. If the changes (for example, the job creation changes), were to apply to pending exemplar petitions, many, if not most, of them would not be approvable. At the very least, the projects would require material changes in order to comply with the new law, which could render the exemplar petitions unapprovable. Changes to comply with the new law would also make the project documents inconsistent with project documents that may have already been filed by investors in the project and for which investors may have already been approved. The legislative changes may render the project no longer approvable for EB-5, which could prevent the project from going forward, to the detriment of investors whose money has already been disbursed. It is critical that the language of the Bill be changed to have the law in place at the time of exemplar filing apply to pending exemplar petitions. Otherwise, there could be serious potential immigration and securities issues.

It is fairly clear that a project for which an exemplar is filed before the effective date of the law would be grandfathered at least with respect to the amount of the investment and the definition of Targeted Employment Area in effect on the date of filing. Note that this does not mean that the project would be considered to be in a TEA if it is in a TEA on the date of filing. Rather, the same definition of TEA as exists today would be applied at the time a future investor invests in the project. If the project qualified under the present definition of a TEA – presumably including census tract aggregation and state certification – the $500,000 investment level would apply to future investors in the project. The new, far more restrictive definition of a TEA would apply to investors investing in projects that were not grandfathered by the filing of an exemplar petition.

The Senate Bill would require that a project be pre-approved – through an equivalent of the present exemplar system – before any investor could invest in the project. This provision would be effective on the date of enactment and apply to any petition filed after the date of enactment.

How does this fit with the concept of a grandfathered exemplar petition? Again, the language and the intention are not clear. However, the language in the Bill seems to indicate that the requirement for the exemplar petition to be approved would apply to all investors after the effective date of the law, even investors in a grandfathered project. Therefore, investors in a grandfathered project would have to wait for the approval of the grandfathered exemplar – perhaps many months or even years after the effective date – before being able to file an I-526 petition in the grandfathered project. However, once the grandfathered project is approved, the investor – even if many months or years later – would still be able to invest at the present investment levels.

Investors

An investor’s I-526 petition does not grandfather a project – only an exemplar petition filed by the regional center grandfathers a project. Although the law in effect when an investor files an I-526 petition should be applied to that petition, it is not at all clear that the statutory language produces this result. Rather it appears that changes in the law would apply to pending petitions. This could lead to completely anomalous results whereby investors invest in a project – often with no ability to get their investment money back – that was approvable when filed but could become unapprovable as a result of a change in the law. If, in fact, that is the result of the present language, it would appear that it is not the result that Congress could have or should have intended. A change in the language of the statute to make it clear that this result is not intended is critical.

The Bill also changes what is considered to be a proper source of capital for an investment. As indicated in our prior Client Alerts, many sources of capital that are acceptable under the present law would not be acceptable if this Bill were to become law. The language of the Bill seems to indicate that these changes would apply to all I-526 petitions pending on the date of enactment. Again, this would be an unacceptable result since many of the financial transactions – gifts, loans, etc. – cannot be reversed just as the capital investment cannot be reversed. This would render many investors unable either to get their money back or to get their petitions approved. It is critical that the language of the Bill be amended to clarify that changes in the law relating to an investor’s source of funds apply to petitions filed after the date of enactment. Unless and until that happens, the prudent course is to comply with the language of the Senate Bill for all newly-filed I-526 petitions.

The Bill provides some benefits to investors, such as the ability to concurrently file an I-526 petition with an I-485 adjustment of status application and the ability to take advantage of Section 245(k) which allows for the approval of an adjustment of status application even if the investor has been out of status for up to 180 days. These provisions apply to pending I-526 petitions.

Finally, the Bill would require Government site visits prior to approval of an I-829. This provision would go into effect two years after the date of enactment of the law.

Regional Centers

There are many changes affecting regional centers and their principals. There are changes in the compliance requirements, when an amendment must be filed, regional center site visits, regional center principal requirements, securities issues, rules affecting marketing of regional center projects and various other provisions. All of these changes apply to all new regional center applications that are pending on the date of enactment. However, they will not apply for one year after the date of enactment for any regional center that is approved before the date of enactment. This means that already existing regional centers will have one year to meet the far more rigorous standards contained in the Senate Bill.

Given this amalgamation of different effective dates that are inconsistent and in many cases illogical, the only advice that can clearly be given is for regional centers to file exemplar petitions before the effective date of the change in law and for investors to file I-526 petitions avoiding the use of loans and gifts that would be prohibited if the new law were to pass.

All of these effective date issues will be the subject of significant amounts of advocacy that will hopefully result in a workable scheme before any bill is signed into law.

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