USCIS promises foreign investors seeking visas — whose investments were redeployed by their sponsoring regional centers in order to maintain their capital at risk — will be safe from retroactive geographic restrictions announced in USCIS’s recent policy clarification
Investment firms Civitas Capital Group and EB5 Capital jointly announced today they are voluntarily dismissing, without prejudice, concurrent litigation against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The dismissal was granted in light of assurances by the agency to the Court and the plaintiffs in the EB5 Capital case that it would not apply its previously stated policy to deny any investor petitions based on redeployment of an investor’s capital beyond the geographic scope of their sponsoring regional center.
Dallas (TX)-based Civitas and Bethesda (MD)-based EB5 Capital in April 2021 each filed suit against USCIS in response to the geographic restrictions USCIS had imposed retroactively on redeployed EB-5 investments, which could have negatively impacted thousands of pending petitions.
Since the Immigration and Nationality Act’s regulations and precedential decisions define the regional center geography requirement for initial investor fund deployment based on whether a job is created, and the laws do not limit the future redeployment of funds based on geography, the geographic limits the USCIS threatened to place on redeployments had to be eliminated, the firms argued.
Attorney Ron Klasko, of Klasko Immigration Law Firm, represented the firms. He noted that the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (as part of H.R.2471 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022), signed into law by President Biden on March 15, which reauthorized the EB-5 immigrant investor regional center program through September 2027, specifically removed any geographic restriction on redeployments with respect to new investors. The litigation sought to ensure that the new policy would be applied retrospectively as well as prospectively. He called the agreement to dismiss litigation a win not only for the EB-5 firms and regional centers represented but an enormous win for EB-5 investors and the industry at large.
“Since the government stated on the record that it had no intention of denying existing investors on the basis of redeployment geography, we believe the best course of action was dismissal of both lawsuits without prejudice,” says EB5 Capital President Brian Ostar. “It essentially means we are taking the government at its word. However, we will remain vigilant on behalf of our investors. We reserve the right to bring the case back to court if necessary.”
The decision to bring litigation – and the promise that should the government not uphold its word, the firms will once again sue – emphasizes how seriously the EB-5 industry stakeholders take compliance with rules, says Civitas Capital Group CEO Daniel J. Healy.
“It also shows just how seriously we take our obligations to protect our investors. This is a win for our investors and the industry.”
Between 2008 and 2021, the EB-5 Program helped generate $37.4 billion in foreign direct investment to create and retain U.S. jobs for Americans, all at no cost to the taxpayer.
About Civitas Capital Group
Civitas Capital Group is a nimble alternative investment manager, founded in 2009, offering compelling, niche opportunities in U.S. real estate. Civitas exists to create opportunities that enrich our communities, investors, and employees alike. Driven by relentless creativity, Civitas digs deeper to uncover opportunities that others miss. Follow Civitas Capital Group on LinkedIn. Learn more at civitascapital.com.
About EB5 Capital
EB5 Capital provides qualified investors from around the world with opportunities to invest in job-creating commercial real estate projects to obtain U.S. permanent residency, as well as private equity investments and secondary passports. For more information, follow EB5 Capital on LinkedIn and visit www.eb5capital.com.