Currently, a federal agency called “USCIS” is in charge of administering the EB-5 visa program. USCIS stands for “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.” It is one of the United States’ current immigration agencies.
The former U.S. immigration agency, the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services), no longer exists. After September 11th, the U.S. government underwent a significant restructuring in an effort to more efficiently combat terrorism and ensure preparedness for natural disasters.
This restructuring created an entirely new department of the federal government: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In March of 2003, the Department of Homeland Security absorbed the former INS and split its responsibilities between two new agencies: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
From a certain perspective, dividing the functions of immigration enforcement and administering programs like EB-5 between different agencies makes sense. They require two very different mentalities. The goal of the EB-5 program, after all, is about bringing qualified investors into the United States, rather than keeping illegal immigrants out.
When these functions were combined under the former INS, it had a fairly predictable result. The requirements of the EB-5 were made more difficult to satisfy and, as a consequence, it was harder for foreigners to get a visa and the program failed to strengthen the economy to the degree that U.S. lawmakers had hoped.
Fortunately, qualified foreign investors now have a fair, flexible path to permanent residency.