USCIS Gives Some Immigrant Investors a 19-Year Grace Period

By David North on October 27, 2011

Suppose you and 30 other individuals in a similar situation had owed IRS a substantial amount of taxes since 1995. Suppose IRS knew all about it at the time.

Do you suppose IRS would give you, and the others, a 19-year-long grace period before doing anything about it?

Well, USCIS (and INS before it) has given a group of 31 would-be alien investors exactly that forgiving treatment.

Here's a (considerably shortened) history:

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A number of would-be EB-5 immigrant investors had filed petitions, between January 1, 1995, and August 31, 1998, seeking what would become green card status because they had made what they thought were adequate investments in the U.S. to obtain that benefit. Their applications were pending when INS appeals officials made several precedential rulings that, in effect, said that their petitions were not adequate. Most of the investments were at the half million-dollar level.

This small population – which apparently has now shrunk to 31 families – appealed to Congress for more time to make the additional investments, or other arrangements, needed to qualify for legal status. In 2002, as a small part of the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Act, Congress decided to give these families another two years to perfect their applications; but for that to happen, INS (and its successor agency, USCIS) had to write the needed regulations.

In the meantime the families, who had not yet met the investment standards for green cards were allowed to remain in the U.S. and not be deported.

Nine more years passed, and on September 28 of this year USCIS finally got around to publishing a set of draft regulations in the Federal Register to deal with the issue.

Once the regs are published in final form, some months from now, most of the would-be alien investors will be given yet another two years to perfect their applications, a process that could easily extend into early 2014. Then USCIS will have to decide to give the aliens legal status or to deport them.

But by then some of them will have been in a totally legal limbo status for 19 years!

Somebody must be paying too much attention to the saying "haste makes waste."

Interpreter Releases' October 3 issue, on p. 2374, carried an item on this matter, without mentioning the 19-year delay, as such.