Riverside County Congressional Delegation Sends Letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Seeking Improved Efficiency and Communication
Washington DC – Yesterday, members of the Riverside County Congressional Delegation (Rep. Mark Takano [D-Riverside], Rep. Ken Calvert [R-Corona], Rep. Raul Ruiz [D-Palm Desert], and Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-Temecula]) sent a letter to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas regarding recent difficulties EB-5 regional centers in the Riverside area have been having with the USCIS.
In the letter, the Members of Congress detail the recent difficulties of EB-5 regional centers in dealing with the USCIS saying, “These issues include a lack of customer service and communication, in addition to lengthy wait times for the approval of new EB-5 regional centers.”
According to Riverside County, these problems, “are severely impacting international investor confidence…[and] translate into a lack of job creation in our county and all loss of investment capital here.”
“The obstacles EB-5 regional centers are having with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are unacceptable and need to be resolved,” said Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41). “Riverside County has been facing an unemployment rate above 9 percent for over 4 years and the EB-5 investor programs have proven to be effective at improving our local economy. I urge Director Mayorkas and the USCIS to work with Riverside County and the EB-5 regional centers to resolve these issues.”
"There is simply no excuse for USCIS's pattern of poor communication with EB-5 regional centers," said Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42). "Clearly, USCIS must perform its due diligence in processing EB-5 paperwork, but they should do so in a more efficient and transparent manner. Our region cannot afford to lose more jobs because of bureaucratic red tape."
“EB-5 Regional Centers are an important venue for investment, and it is imperative for USCIS to improve responsiveness and expedite the approval process for EB-5 Regional Centers," said Dr. Raul Ruiz (CA-36). "At a time when investment is critical to our county’s economic recovery, it is unacceptable for bureaucratic red tape to prevent our local Riverside County Economic Development Agency from getting access to the resources it needs to create jobs in our district."
The EB-5 program provides Visa's for international investors who invest a minimum of $500,000.00 in a business in the County of Riverside and create a minimum of 10 new jobs within the county workforce. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors launched its EB-5 Visa investment campaign in March 2009. Today, 1/5th of the nation's EB-5 Centers call Riverside County home and are funding public and private sector projects. Each of the county's 28 cities have benefited directly from the EB-5 investor programs.
Full letter below:
May 27, 2013
Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, DC 20528
Recently, we received a letter from the County of Riverside detailing certain issues that EB-5 regional centers in the Riverside area have been having with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These issues include a lack of customer service and communication, in addition to lengthy wait times for the approval of new EB-5 regional centers. We urge USCIS to address these concerns, ensure that inquiries from EB-5 regional centers are responded to in a timely manner, and improve the EB-5 regional center approval process.
The EB-5 regional center program has played an essential role in Riverside County’s economy. In fact, twenty percent of the nation’s EB-5 regional centers are located in Riverside County, and each of the 28 cities in the county has felt the positive effects.
Unfortunately, our EB-5 centers have experienced difficulties working with USCIS. According to Riverside County, “calls and emails to the USCIS Ombudsman are not returned, and emails to employees regarding status updates on applications are ignored. These delays are severely impacting international investor confidence…[and] translate into a lack of job creation in our county and all loss of investment capital here.” Additionally, the approval process for new EB-5 centers now averages a full year. The federal government should be helping these job creators, not hindering them.
Again, we urge you to address the apparent customer service issues and to evaluate potential ways to expedite the approval process for new EB-5 regional centers, while ensuring that the EB-5 visa process continues to thoroughly vet visa applications in order to prevent fraud and maintain the integrity of the EB-5 visa. We request a response to this letter by no later than June 18, 2013.